Category Archives: Bob Dylans’s best songs

Bob Dylan’s best songs: Subterranean Homesick Blues

bob dylan Subterranean Homesick Blues
Photo by Tony Frank

Ah get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don’t steal, don’t lift
Twenty years of schoolin’
And they put you on the day shift

Question: Do you think there’s a move afoot to turn you into a pop star?
Dylan: They can’t turn me into anything. I just write my songs and that’s that! Nobody can change me and by the same token, they can’t change my songs. Of course I vary things once in a while, like with the different backing I had on Subterranean Homesick Blues. But that was entirely my own doing. Nobody talked me into it. Just so happened we had a lot of swinging cats on that track, real hip musicians.
~Bob Dylan (May 1965, UK)

Subterranean Homesick Blues. I mean… I don’t think I would have wanted to do it all by myself. I thought I’d get more power out of it, you know, with a small group in back of me. It
was electric, but doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s modernized just because it’s electric, you know? It was, you know, like a… Country music was electric, too.
Bob Dylan (Jeff Rosen Interviews, 2005)

If Dylan like Shakespeare is to be someday remembered for having created combinations of language that “age cannot wither,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues” will be a shining example thereof.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan Performing Artist I: The Early Years 1960-1973)

Subterranean Homesick Blues” was electric all the way down to its obvious R & B roots. No traditional ballad provided this song with its underlying infrastructure. Acoustic or electric, it had been taken at quite a different clip from any folk ballad—or, indeed, the southern boogie Chuck Berry utilized when devising the template on April 16, 1956. And Dylan would be the last to deny Berry’s overt influence. As he told Hilburn recently, this first foray into folk-rock was “from Chuck Berry, a bit of ‘Too Much Monkey Business,’ and some of the scat songs of the forties.
~Clinton Heylin (Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973)

Subterranean Homesick Blues – video:


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Bob Dylan’s best songs: Up To Me

Bob Dylan - UpToMe

I don’t think of myself as Bob Dylan. It’s like Rimbaud said, ‘I is another.’
~Bob Dylan (Biograph liner notes)

In its own way ‘Up To Me’ is as masterful an achievement as ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, using much the same technique to create a well-crafted juxtaposition of ‘what I know to be the truth’ and what I’m projecting’.
~Clinton Heylin (Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol. 2, . 1974-2008)

“Up To Me” was recorded 19 September 1974:

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Bob Dylan: Roll On John (Lennon)

Captured in the documentary “Eat the Document”

Roll on, John, roll through the rain and snow
Take the right-hand road and go where the buffalo roam
They’ll trap you in an ambush before you know
Too late now to sail back home

Shine your light
Movin’ on
You burned so bright
Roll on, John
~Bob Dylan (Roll On John)

I dig John [Lennon]. As a writer, a singer and a Beatle. I dig everytime I meet them, but him I dig. He doesn’t take things seriously as so many guys do. I like that.
~Bob Dylan (KRLA Beat Interview, June 1965)

Oh, I always love to see John [Lennon]. Always. He’s a wonderful fellow… and I always like to see him.
~Bob Dylan (to Jann Wenner, Dec 1969)

Roll On John (original album version)

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Bob Dylan: Angel of Rain (Almost Done) – Unreleased Gem


Almost done
almost done
but I don’t stand missed
but you’re the one
oh you’re the child
I’m a-trustin’ you
to trust me down
just trust me too
-from “Angel of rain”

One of three new originals Dylan was threatening to play on his 1984 tour of European stadiums, this gorgeous song was worked on a number of times at pre-tour rehearsals, of which recordings remain, but was never performed or recorded at the post-tour sessions in New York.
– Clinton Heylin (The gems that Bob Dylan discarded – The Telegraph)

There was one beautiful song he played occasionally that he’d never recorded and never [fully) rehearsed with us either. It was a tricky little number, we never knew the title, but he’d launch into it from time to time, leaving us totally in the dark.
-Ian McLagen (Keyboard player – 1984 Europe tour)


  1. Facts
  2. Lyrics

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Bob Dylan’s best songs: I’m Not There (1956)


“No, I don’t belong to her, I don’t belong to anybody
She’s my Christ forsaken angel but she don’t hear me cry
She’s a lone hearted mystic and she can’t carry on
When I’m there she’s alright but then she’s not when I’m gone”
-from “I´m Not There”

There are times you just pick up an instrument—something will come . . . some kind of wild line will come into your head and you’ll develop that. If it’s a tune on the piano or guitar . . . you’ll write those words down. And they might not mean anything to you at all, and you just go on. . . . Now, . . . if I do it, I just keep it for myself. So I have a big lineup of songs which I’ll never use.
—Dylan, Sing Out! June 1968

Finally, for its fortieth birthday, it received an official release under the same name as the film it unwittingly inspired, “I’m Not There.” Hallelujah.
-Clinton Heylin (Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973)

“Dylan’s saddest song, achieved without benefit of context or detail. It’s like listening to the inspiration before the song is wrapped around it.”
-John Bauldie (The Telegraph)


  1. Facts
  2. Lyrics
  3. Live versions / other notable versions

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