“You thought it was all over after Blood On The Tracks? Well it’s not dark yet. In fact, it’s not even getting there. Here are ten songs you need, from Street Legal onwards.”
– Nigel Williamson
Nigel Williamson is a British journalist and author. Educated at University College London, Williamson worked as a reporter on Tribune (1982–84) and was then briefly its literary editor (1984) before becoming editor (1984–87) as successor to Chris Mullin.
He writes on pop and world music for a variety of publications, including the magazines Uncut and Songlines. He has also written books, among them, The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan. He made 4 Bob Dylan playlists for The Rough Guide Book of playlists.
…and here is the 4th:
“Hard on the hands of Blood On The Tracks, Desire got few plaudits. But for many it’s an overlooked masterpiece and this song, with Dylan’s voice counterpointed by Scarlet Rivera’s violin, one of his great ever moments”.
Changing of the guards:
“A storming anger-charged momentum-laden anti-anthem. Like many of Bob’s most rewarding songs, the precise meaning is wide open to interpretation”.
“The most tender song from the first and the best of the gospel albums (1979). Try those high notes yourself – they are not easy nor meant to be.”
Blind Willie McTell:
“A Deep South song from 1983 that would feel at home in any Dylan decade. Sin, the blues and one of Bob’s most haunting tunes in honour of the legendary bluesman”.
“Lyrically a kind of Mr. Tambourine man for the 80s, musically just a nice cool breeze”.
“Dylan goes to the movies in 1985. He’s in the front row with soaring girlie chorus watching Gregory Peck. Or is it Gregory Peck?”.
Tweeter and The Monkey Man:
“A New jersey crime-thriller yarn with the poser: who is the monkey man? The vocalist – on Blonde on Blonde form – is easier to suss on this 1988 outing.”
“Dylan twanging and impatient – full of taut energy rare in an otherwise magnificently resigned must-have album from 1997.”
Not Dark Yet:
“Dylan seems to foresee his death:”It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.” Emmylou Harris reckoned it “the greatest song ever about growing old…it brings up things we didn’t even know we were capable of feeling”.
Things Have Changed:
“Dylan for the couldn’t care less generation, used in the 1999 movie, Wonder Boys. Almost bouncy. The times had changed again”.