Category Archives: Bob Dylans’s best songs

Bob Dylan & Patti Smith – Dark Eyes – Electric Factory Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 17 December 1995

BD & PS

From the last (and one of the best) concerts of the 95-tour we get this great version of “Dark Eyes”.

…. and then three nights in Philadelphia (December 15–17). Every night Patti Smith would come on in the middle for the tenth song of the set and they would
share vocals on ‘Dark Eyes’, the acoustic song from
the end of the Empire Burlesque album of ten years
earlier, and which he had never sung live before.
The routine might have been the same every
night but there was nothing routine about it. ….
….but without question live performance brought it
alive, and it was Patti Smith who made it happen.
Here, in the tingling electricity between them as
they traded verses and duetted on the choruses, the song was the conduit of a beauty and excitement it had never possessed.
Many Dylan followers believed that he felt challenged by Patti Smith’s still possessing a fierce anti-showbiz, anti-bullshit credibility that had in his own case been compromised by then: that she therefore kept him on his toes as no performance with his own band alone would have done. As it was, he rose higher than his toes.
~Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Ecyclopedia)

BD & PS2

Lyrics:

Oh, the gentlemen are talking and the midnight moon is on the riverside
They’re drinking up and walking and it is time for me to slide
I live in another world where life and death are memorized
Where the earth is strung with lovers’ pearls and all I see are dark eyes

A cock is crowing far away and another soldier’s deep in prayer
Some mother’s child has gone astray, she can’t find him anywhere
But I can hear another drum beating for the dead that rise
Whom nature’s beast fears as they come and all I see are dark eyes

They tell me to be discreet for all intended purposes,
They tell me revenge is sweet and from where they stand, I’m sure it is.
But I feel nothing for their game where beauty goes unrecognized,
All I feel is heat and flame and all I see are dark eyes.

Oh, the French girl, she’s in paradise and a drunken man is at the wheel
Hunger pays a heavy price to the falling gods of speed and steel
Oh, time is short and the days are sweet and passion rules the arrow that flies
A million faces at my feet but all I see are dark eyes



BD & PS3

-Egil

Bob Dylan’s best songs – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – #16, released version

The hard rain is gonna fall is in the last verse when I say “when the pellets of poison are flooding the waters”. I mean, all the lies, you know, all the lies that people get told on their radios and their newspapers which, all you have to do is
just think for a minute, y’know, try and take peoples brains away, y’know, which maybe’s been done already. I dunno, maybe, I hate to think it’s been done, but all the lies, which are considered poison, y’know, er…
Bob Dylan (to Studs Terkel, April 63)

‘Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’… I wrote the words of it on a piece of paper. But there was just no tune that really fit to it, so I just sort of play chords without a tune. If all this comes under the heading of a definition, then I don’t care really to define what I do. Other people seem to have a hard time doing that.
~Bob Dylan (to Max Jones, May 64)

From “The Witmark Demos” (Bootleg Series 9):

@ #16 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs. The original version from “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” was recorded on December 6 – 1962…. 50 year’s ago today. The Witmark version above was recorded sometime in December 62.

‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’, recorded December 6, 1962, is another song whose genius and power are so great that our analytical minds (not our hearts) may have difficulty accepting and recognizing it’s simplicity.
~Paul Williams (Performing Artist 60-73)

from 1964:

 

Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – #16, released version

Bob Dylan’s best songs – It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – #7, released version

Well, I still do that song [It’s Alright Ma]. It’s still very relevant to me.
~Bob Dylan (June 1985)

“I’ve written some songs that I look at, and they just give me a sense of awe,… Stuff like, It’s Alright, Ma, just the alliteration in that blows me away. And I can also look back and know where I was tricky and where I was really saying something that just
happened to have a spark of poetry to it.”
~Bob Dylan (to John Pareles, Sept 1997)

Ironically, this song, which Dylan performs unaccompanied on the “folk-side” of his half-folk, half electric album, is more of a rock and roll performance than anything else on the record.
~Paul Williams (Performing Artist 60-73)

@ no.7 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs.. comes this acoustic masterpiece with lyrics that still makes me shiver in awe…

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked

best of the best:

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

original version:

Lyrics:

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

Temptation’s page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you’d just be one more
Person crying

So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Except hatred

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it

Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit
To satisfy, insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something they invest in

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes must get lonely

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only

….and proceeded to record the final versions of “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “It’s Alright, Ma” & “Gates of Eden” in a single take, with no playback between songs! ….. It is as though all three songs came out of him in one breath, easily the greatest breath drawn by an american artist since Ginsberg & Kerouac exhaled “Howl” & “On the Road” a decade earlier.
~Paul Williams (Performing Artist 60-73)

Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs – It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – #7, released version

Bob Dylan’s best songs – If You See Her, Say Hello – #56

So, I kick off my journey through “Bob Dylan top 200 songs” (my list of Bob Dylans 200 greatest songs) with number 56.
Why not start at number 1… or number 200 ? No particular reason, “I just happen to feel this way”.
I will publish posts in this category on and off, with no spesific frequency.

If You See Her, Say Hello – #56

New York Version 1

Outtake from original studio sessions for Blood On The Tracks
Alt version1: A&R Studios,  19  September 1974, Columbia A&R Studios, NYC
Musicians: Bob Dylan: Guitar, Vocals, Charles Brown III: Guitar, Eric Weissberg: Guitar, Barry Kornfield: Guitar
Not released – New York Sessions bootleg

This version is similar to Bootleg Series vol 1-3 version, but different take – softer and shorter without the harmonica solo before the last verse.

Short history – “The making of “Blood On The Tracks”:

The original “New York Sessions” for Blood On The Tracks took place from 16-25 of September 1974 in NYC. A test pressing of the album was made, but Dylan was not comfortable. He took the album “home” to Minnesota and played it for his brother – David Zimmerman. David told Bobby that the album was not “radio friendly”, and they put together a band with local musicians  at Sound 80 Studio in Minneapolis on 27 & 30 December. These two sessions ended up replacing half of the albums original New York takes… And one of the unlucky ones was “If You See Here, Say Hello”.. The released Blood On The Tracks version was recorded on December 30.

Why Do I Like the original “New York” version better ?

Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs – If You See Her, Say Hello – #56