Bob Dylan’s best songs from the 1960s

672225d Bob Dylan

[on songwriting] The song was there before me, before I came along. I just sorta came down and I sorta took it down with a pencil that it was all there before I came around. That’s how I feel about it.
~to Pete Seeger, Broadside Show, WBAI-FM Radio, May 1962

Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can’t sing, I call a poem. Anything I can’t sing or anything that’s too long to be a poem, I call a novel.
~Nat Hentoff quoting Dylan, jacket notes Freewheeling Dylan

“It’s hard being free in a song – getting it all in. Songs are so confining. Woody Guthrie told me once that songs don’t have to do anything like that. But it’s not true. A song has to have some kind of form to fit into the music. You can bend the words and the meter, but it still has to fit somehow. I’ve been getting freer in the songs I write, but I still feel confined. That’s why I write a lot of poetry – if that’s the word. Poetry can make it’s own form.”
~Nat Hentoff Interview, June 1964

“A song is anything that can walk by itself, I am called a songwriter. A poem is a naked person, some people say that I am a poet”.
~Jacket notes Subterranean Homesick Blues

Saturday (April 12 – 2014) I asked the question – What’s your top 5 Bob Dylan songs recorded in the 60’s ? – over at our Facebook page. As of writing 72 people (all Bob Dylan experts)  have uttered their opinions.

If you’re not on Facebook, or do not “like” our page.. you can use the comment section to post your 5 favorites.

Some numbers:

  • 335 votes
    Not everyone came up with 5. Some even tried more than 5 (I only counted max 5 from each person)
  • 64 songs received votes
  • Albums with most votes:
    – Highway 61 Revisited: 64 votes
    – Blonde On Blonde: 59 votes
    – Bringing It All Back Home: 36 37 votes
    – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan: 35 votes
    – John Wesley Harding: 13 votes

Here are the results of the alldylan community jury:

1. Like A Rolling Stone (H61R) 36 votes
2. Visions Of Johanna (BoB) 34 votes
3. Desolation Row (H61R) 19 votes
4. Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands (BoB) 18 votes
5. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (TFBD) 17 votes
6. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) (BiABH) 16 votes
6. Mr. Tambourine Man (BiABH) 16 votes
7. All Along The Watchtower (JWH) 11 votes
7. Ballad Of A Thin Man (H61R)  11 votes
9. Just Like Tom Thumb’s blues (H61R) 9 votes
9. Positively 4th Street (Single) 9 votes
9. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (TFBD) 9 votes
12. Blowin’ In the Wind (TFBD) 7 votes
13. I Want You (BoB) 6 votes
13. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (BiABH) 6 votes
13. Just Like A Woman (BoB) 6 votes
13. Boots Of Spanish Leather (TTTAAC) 6 votes
13. Love Minus Zero/No Limit (BiABH) 6 votes
18. Masters of War (TFBD) 5 votes
18. Chimes Of Freedom (ASOBD)  5 votes
18. To Ramona (ASOBD) 5 votes
21. My Back Pages (ASOBD) 4 votes
21. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (H61R) 4 votes 
21. Gates Of Eden (BiABH) 4 votes 
21. One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later) (Bob) 4 votes
21. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (TTTAAC) 4 votes

Bob-Dylan-like-a-rolling-stone

Songs with 3 votes: Girl From The North Country, Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I Go Mine), She’s Your Lover Now, The Times They Are a-Changin’, As I Went Out One Morning & Song To Woody

8 songs got 2 votes & 24 songs did get 1 vote.

Spotify playlist:


My top 5:

  1. Visions of Johanna
  2. Like A Rolling Stone
  3. Ballad Of A Thin Man
  4. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
  5. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

Hallgeir’s top 5:

  1. Like a Rolling Stone
  2. Ballad of a thin man
  3. Just like Tom Thumb’s blues
  4. It’s alright ma (I’m only bleeding)
  5. Visions of Johanna

Check out:

-Egil

30 thoughts on “Bob Dylan’s best songs from the 1960s”

  1. Subterranean homesick blues
    Masters of war
    All along the watchtower
    Blowin in the wind
    Boots of Spanish leather

  2. 1.Like a Rolling Stone
    2.Desolation Row
    3.Visions of Johanna
    4.It’s All Over Now Baby Blue
    5.All Along the Watchtower

  3. 1. Visions of Johanna
    2. One of Us Must Know
    3. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
    4. Mr. Tambourine Man
    5. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

  4. I guess I could have chosen something other than “Tonight I’ll be Staying Here with You” as my number five—and not ‘wasted’ my vote. But, then, neither Lay Down Your Weary Tune nor I Shall Be Released appear to have registered with anyone, either! (And I agree with Frank Jive: my selection of Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues should have specified the live single version with the Hawks! It ranks for me with the all time captured live dylan perfomances, along with Shelter from the Storm (from Hard Rain) and Dear Mrs. Roosevelt (from the Guthrie Carnegie Hall Tribute). 🙂

  5. So hard to pick 5. There are so many geat bob dylan songs in the 60’s, so im just going to pick some of my personal favorites, even though they may not be the best.

    1. Queen Jane Approximately
    2. She Belongs to Me
    3. Drifter’s Escape
    4. Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues
    5. Girl from the North Country

    Wow I really wanted to include at least one from Blonde on Blonde, again so hard to pick just 5.

  6. Hard Rain, Girl of the North Country, Like a Rolling Stone, Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, Mr. Tamborine Man

  7. 1, Mr. Tambourine Man
    2. Desolation Row
    3. Love Minus Zero / No Limit
    4. Like a Rolling Stone
    5. She Belongs to Me

  8. 1 to Ramona
    2 visions of Johanna
    3 Ballard in plain d
    4 Spanish Harlem incident
    5 gates of Eden

    how bout this
    If you were going to a Dylanesque masquerade party. What lyrical character would you dress up as?

    i.e. the one eyed undertaker…….

  9. In no particular order: Like a Rolling Stone, Visions of Johanna, All along the Watchtower, A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall, and Gates of Eden. Toughest list yet…

  10. Visions of Johanna
    Things Have Changed
    Idiot Wind
    Cross the Green Mountain
    The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

  11. 1. It’s Alright Ma….I’m Only Bleeding
    2. Stuck Inside of Mobile, With The Memphis Blues Again
    3. Visions Of Johanna
    4. Ballad Of a Thin Man
    5. Mr. Tambourine Man

  12. 1. I Want You
    2. I Threw it all away
    3. Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol
    4. A Hard Rain’s A-gonna Fall
    5. As I went out one morning

  13. People tend to equate the lengthy epics with “best.” These songs deserve praise, of course, but you could argue it’s more useful to think about the “best love (or anti-love!) song” or “best rock and roll song” or “best topical song” ala Biograph.

    I don’t think you could argue with the top five or six on the list with being some of Bob’s best songs ever (although where is She’s Your Love Now?!), but the man writes all different *kinds* of songs that, for me at least, are hard to lump together. Thanks for a stimulating site!

    1. Thanks for your feedback AWFF.

      I agree.. but is still fun to make these lists, and we will keep it up.
      “best love (or anti-love!) song”, “best rock and roll song” & “best topical song” would be cool lists.
      Probably at a later stage.. first we need to get the “best/fav” of 60’s / 70’s etc. out of the way 🙂

    2. “Angel with Four Faces”: I’d place Angelina in Dylan’s top 5 songs of the 80s! Perhaps, JV would like to host a “Top 5” or “Top 10” Dylan tunes of that decade.

      1. Totally agree Steven… Angelina is one of my top 10 all time greatest Dylan tracks, along with Girl from the Red River Shore… keep the faith brother !

  14. 1 I’t’s all right Ma (I’m only bleeding)
    2 Like a Rolling Stone
    3 Desolation Row
    4 Ballad of a Thin Man
    5 Visions of Johanna

  15. 1. Visions of Johanna
    2. I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine
    3. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It takes a train to Cry
    4. Girl From the North Country
    5. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

  16. In no particular order:

    Don’t Think Twice
    Hard Rain’s A’gonna Fall
    Desolation Row
    Highway 61
    Visions of Johanna

  17. Hi Guys… luv what you’re doin’… my top 5 from Bob in the ’60’s are:
    On the road again (that wailin’ harp intro just kills me and it rocks)
    Just like tom thumbs blues
    Visions of Johanna
    Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
    Desolation Row
    Cheers, Roger

  18. 1) One of Us Must Know 2) It’s Allright Ma 3) Boots of Spanish Leather 4) She’s Your Lover Now 5) It’s All Over Now Baby Blue

  19. It’s so hard to choose:

    1) Just Like A Woman
    2) Love Minus Zero/No Limit
    3) Like A Rolling Stone
    4) Mr Tambourine Man
    5) It Ain’t Me Babe

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