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Archive for December, 2019

5. Simple Twist Of Fate (1975)

Dylan’s saddest song. As he sings of the last night of a couple together with weary despair, Dylan’s narrative unfolds in the third person, except for one devastating giveaway “I remember well”. Even the wheezy harmonica solo sounds emotionally shattered.

4. Jokerman (1983)

Many of Dylan’s most devoted fans were alienated by the preachiness of Dylan’s born again Christian phase. On Jokerman he released himself back into a beautiful ambiguity that more perfectly distils the mysteries of faith. The Jokerman is Jesus, “born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing.” With legendary Jamaican rhythm section Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare pulsing beneath Mark Knopfler’s silvery guitar, the track has a slipperiness that mirrors its audacious lyrical twists and turns.

3. A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall (1963)

Adapting the melody and refrain of traditional English folk song Lord Randall, Dylan lets loose the full force of his poetic imagination like an apocalyptic storm. This first recording is sparse, just strummed acoustic guitar and that barbed wire voice, but the cascade of imagery holds listeners in hypnotic thrall.

2. Blowin’ In the Wind (1963)

This song was released in 1962 by Dylan on his Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album.

The song that really announced Dylan, a troubadour for a generation, old beyond his years. He was just 21 when he wrote it but cautiously held it back from his debut album of folk covers. It sounds like a song that has been blowing around for 1000 years and has a quality of simple, universal, mysterious truth that will keep it relevant for a thousand more.

1. Tangled Up In Blue (1975)

The most dazzling lyric ever written, an abstract narrative of relationships told in an amorphous blend of first and third person, rolling past, present and future together, spilling out in tripping cadences and audacious internal rhymes, ripe with sharply turned images and observations and filled with a painfully desperate longing. “I wanted to defy time” according to Dylan. “When you look at a painting, you can see any part of it altogether. I wanted that song to be like a painting.”

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