Bob Dylan: 30 best songs from the 1980s (Poll results)

bob dylan 1987

Back in April 2014 we challenged our readers:

to put together a top 10 list, or at least 10 songs (if you only provide a top 5 list, they will count as well). Songs 1-5 will receive 2 points each & 6-10 will receive 1 point.

Here was my list:

  1. Blind Willie McTell (1983) – electric version
  2. Every Grain Of Sand (1981)
  3. Brownsville Girl (1984/86)
  4. Jokerman (1983)
  5. Most Of The Time (1989)
  6. Caribbean Wind (1981) – Studio 55 version (aka – rattlesnake version)
  7. Dignity (1989) – Touched By An Angel version
  8. Series Of Dreams (1989)
  9. Shooting Star (1989)
  10. Man In The Long Black Coat (1989)

Hallgeir’s list:

  1. Blind Willie McTell
  2. Every Grain Of Sand
  3. Brownsville Girl
  4.  Jokerman
  5. Caribbean Wind
  6. The Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar
  7. Most Of The Time
  8. Series Of Dreams
  9. Pressing On
  10. Shooting Star



48 people voted, most of them with a top 10 list.… this is a another GREAT list.

Here are the results of the JV/alldylan community jury:


Blind Willie McTell (1983)

70 points


Jokerman (1983)

65 points


Every Grain Of Sand (1981)

59 points


Brownsville Girl (1984/86)

40 points


Most Of The Time (1989)

38 points


Caribbean Wind (1981)

37 points


Series Of Dreams (1989)

28 points


Ring Them Bells (1989)

27 points


Pressing On (1980)

25 points


Man In The Long Black Coat (1989)

24 points


Angelina (1981)

20 points


The Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar (1981)

19 points


I and I (1983)

18 points


Foot Of Pride (1983)

15 points


Shooting Star (1989)

15 points


Dignity (1989)

14 points


Dark Eyes (1985)

13 points


In The Summertime (1981)

11 points


When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky (1985)

10 points


Sweetheart Like You (1983)

9 points


Solid Rock (1980)

8 points


Born In Time (1989)

7 points


Heart Of Mine (1981)

7 points


What Good Am I? (1989)

7 points


Everything Is Broken (1989)

6 points


In The Garden (1980)

6 points


Tweeter and the Monkey Man (1988)

6 points


Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight (1983)

5 points


What Can I Do For You (1980)

5 points


What Was It You Wanted (1989)

5 points

7 songs @ 4 points: Band Of The Hand, Covenant Woman, Emotionally Yours, License To Kill, Political World, Property of Jesus & Shot Of Love

24 songs @3 or less points.

Spotify Playlist:

Blind Willie McTell (electric):

Every Grain Of Sand:


45 thoughts on “Bob Dylan: 30 best songs from the 1980s (Poll results)”

  1. Shalom & Erev tov…unless I am mistaken (which I am not), Shabtai Zisel / ‘Bob Dylan’ is wearing a hair piece…

  2. Quite an impressive list for an artist who was supposedly at an all-time creative low in the 1980s. Maybe if Dylan had only released three albums during that decade his reputation would’ve fared better.

  3. For many artists, these songs would fill their career ” best of” album. And this was Dylan’s “down” period.

    1. Well, Oh Mercy, he did have 4 great albums and Saved the Infidels > He could have had an extra one with all the sublime outtakes, which he eventually did, but on his own timing …

  4. Dust on the Man in the Long Black Coat from Every Grain of Sand, he was gazing in the doorway and while gazing out the window, he saw Blind Willie Mc Tell in a Series of Dreams. There seems to be no exit in any direction : Oh Angelina, i was begging God for Mercy, What Can I Do For You ? You have given me life to live so Death is Not The End. What Good Am I if I know all this and don’t say that Foot of Pride is a mighty song, especially in the the roaring version of Lou Reed.

  5. 1.Blind Willie McTell
    2.Series of Dreams
    3.Every Grain of Sand
    4.Most of the Time
    7.Man in the Long Black Coat
    8.When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky
    9.Brownsville Girl
    10.Heart of Mine

  6. An alternate studio version of Jokerman with several different lyrical turns! Enjjoy. 🙂

  7. Sweetheart Like You…? That as about America getting embroiled in political revolutions in central america, I always thought. Glad to see Pressing On being recognized as a great tune here! I always felt it to be the best track on Saved…until I started listening to the live Massey Hall version of What Can I do for you? on a regular basis over the past year.

  8. I & I, Foot of Pride, Groom’s Still Waiting, Every Grain of Sand, Most of the Time, Blind Willie McTell (electric of course), Band of the Hand (It’s Helltime, Man!), Man of Peace, Carribean Wind, Dark Eyes

  9. In The Garden, Lenny Bruce, Every Grain of Sand, Jokerman, Sweetheart like you, Dont fall apart on me tonight, They killed him, Brownsville Girl, Silvio, Shooting Star

  10. Doesn’t anyone realize Watered-Down Love is is a truly great rhythm & blues song, and Dylan is speaking of Jesus in Sweetheart Like You? My list: Pressing On, In the Garden, Watered-Down Love, In the Summertime, Every Grain of Sand, Sweetheart Like You, I and I, I’ll Remember You, When the Night Comes Falling From the Sky, and Dark Eyes.

  11. Holiday travel kept me away from the internet this past weekend and, hence, unable to submit a list prior to deadline. Nevertheless, here posits the Neighborhood Bully his top ten of the 80s….

    1. Angelina
    2. Groom Still Waiting at the Altar
    3. Blind Willie McTell
    4. Jokerman
    5. Most of the Time (solo acoustic/harmonica)
    6. What Can I Do for You?
    7. Dignity (Touched by an Angel)–did he write it? nb: lawsuit
    8. Every Grain of Sand
    9. Brownsville Girl
    10. Foot of Pride

  12. 1. Every Grain of Sand
    2. Ring Them Bells
    3. Blind Will McTell
    4. Angelina
    5. Most of the Time
    6. Series of Dreams
    7. Man in the Long Black Coat
    8. Jokerman
    9. Pressing ON
    10. Shooting Star

  13. The absolute best:
    blind willie mctell
    most of the time
    tweeter and the monkeyman
    everything is broken
    every grain of sand
    dark eyes
    ring them bells
    license to kill
    i and i

  14. 1. Blind Willie McTell
    2. Every Grain of Sand
    3. Jokerman
    4. Sweetheart Like You
    5. Ring Them Bells
    6. Carribean Winds
    7. Man in the Long Black Coat
    8. When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky
    9. Pressing On
    10. Shooting Star

  15. the surprisingly many highpoints were true Dylan genius (sometimes disguised in bad 80’s sound), for the rest nothing but trash alas… As an exception though Oh Mercy was really good all the way through, but I was never that impressed with the lyrical qualities, too simple and straightforward for my taste, though the message went deep enough, real soul searching, but every song a bit one dimensional… It was the whole of the record that worked as a many facetted diamond…
    1 Angelina (why the hell was this left of Shot of Love, that could have been one of his strongest records but featured mostly the clunkers of the sessions like property of Jesus and oh no the childish Watered Down Love and moronic but at least excitedly sung Trouble)
    2 Jokerman
    3 Man in the Long Black Coat
    4 Dignity (why the hell was this left off Oh Mercy?)
    5 Carribean Wind (why the hell etc.)
    6 Man of Peace
    7 Blind Willie McTell (why, sigh)
    8 Sweetheart Like You
    9 Don’t Fall apart on me Tonight
    10 I & I

    1. you complain about one-dimensional songs on Oh Mercy, but include Man Of Peace, Sweetheart Like You and Dont Fall Apart on Me Tonight in your top 10 ? OK

      1. sure, man of peace has some dark imagery and attacks the one dimensional view that a man of peace is allways allright… Sweetheart is not the anti femistic song it is being called by some political correct people and paints a vivid picture of a woman in a bad place, and her role is far from being clear to the eye, it’s mysterious… Don’t fall apart has some surreal lines as well and you never get sure what the singer really thinks of the one he needs at that moment, he is full of doubts, so not quite one dimensional either… You may and I do complain about the musicaal setting, which is a bit dull because of Mark Knopfler and the robotic drums and bass… And I stressed that together the songs from Oh Mercy are far from one dimensional, Dylan just chose to focus in each song on one facet of his soulsearching, whereas mostly his lyrics go into all kinds of directions in one song. Oh mercy is very highly regarded by me, I was just surprised I chose only one song from it as his best of the decade, and this is the explanation I came up with for myself, but I can understand it puzzles you a bit. Yet I stand my ground concerning those great lyrics of Infidels, which as a record I find disappointing because of the eighties sound.

        1. It’s all good! Each to their own … That’s what makes Dylan great – something for everyone !

  16. As others have noted: The 80s’ period was not without it’s great tunes.
    And for me, these tunes were hitting at a particularly turbulent time of my life,
    and they helped to get me through, so they mean a lot to me.
    Anyway, and in no particular order, here goes:

    1. Foot Of Pride
    2. Lord Protect My Child
    3. Series Of Dreams
    4. Solid Rock
    5. Blind Willie McTell
    6. Brownsville Girl
    7. Most Of The TIme
    8. Shooting Star
    9. I & I
    10. In The Summertime

  17. 1. Every Grain of Sand
    2. Blind Willie McTell
    3. Brownsville Girl
    4. Pressing On
    5. Licence to Kill
    6. Dark Eyes
    7. What Good Am I?
    8. What Can I Do For You?
    9. Most of the Time
    10. Ring Them Bells

    This wasn’t easy. Many more songs deserve honourable mentions. Think how praised an artist Dylan would be if his his career was only his 80’s songs. How many songwriters could compare to Dylan’s 80’s output?

  18. Love the 80’s stuff:
    Ring them bells
    Groom still waiting (robbery aloofness snobbery…love this song)
    Brownsville girl
    Joker man
    Pressing on
    Caribbean wind
    Going to alcapulco
    Most of the time
    Under the red sky ( is that bob playing on the floor with the grand kids?)

  19. Never knew why they called this his weak decade.
    Ring them Bells
    Groom Still Waiting (robbery, aloufness, snobbery….aw beautiful!)
    Brownsville Girl
    Series of Dreams
    Pressing On
    Going to Alcapulco
    Most of the Time
    Caribbean Wind

  20. 1. Every Grain of Sand
    2. Blind Willie McTell
    3. Man in the Long Black Coat
    4. Solid Rock
    5. I and I
    6. Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar
    7. When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky
    8. Ring Them Bells
    9. Brownsville Girl
    10. Series of Dreams

  21. 1. Series Of Dreams
    2. Born In Time
    3. Every Grain Of Sand
    4. Most Of The Time
    5. Jokerman
    6. Dignity
    7. Ring Them Bells
    8. Dark Eyes
    9. Blind Willie McTell
    10. Someone’s Got A Hold On My Heart

    It wad harder than I thought to do my top list,
    The eighties were not as bad as people commonly believe, from it !

  22. Every Grain, Blind Willie, Jokerman, Sweetheart Like You, Tight Connection, Groom’s Still Waiting, Brownsville Girl, Caribbean Wind, Solid Rock, I’ll Remember You. Some greart songs, but there were a lot of bad ones in the 80’s.

  23. 1. Property of Jesus
    2. When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky (bootleg series version)
    3. Angelina
    4. Blind Willie McTell
    5. Pressing On
    6. Most of the Time
    7. Jokerman
    8. Man in the Long Black Coat
    9. Emotionally Yours
    10. Foot of Pride

  24. Caribbean Wind, Brownsville Girl, Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar, Blind Willie Mctell (electric), Jokerman, Angelina, In the Summertime, Ring Them Bells, Dignity, Shooting Star

  25. 1 Blind Willie McTell
    2 Every Grain of Sand
    3 Most of the Time
    4 Series of Dreams
    5 Pressing On
    6 Angelina
    7 Jokerman
    8 Man in a Long Black Coat
    9 Band of the Hand
    10 Tweeter and the Monkey Man

    1. Band of the Hand!! I remember buying the 45 single. Haven’t heard it in a long time. “It’s hell time, man!”

  26. “Solid Rock,” “Every Grain of Sand,” “Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar,” “Blind Willie McTell,” “Caribbean Wind,” “Sweetheart Like You,” “Jokerman,”Most of the Time,” “Ring Them Bells,” “Brownsville Girl”

  27. Jokerman
    What Can I Do For You?
    I’ll Remember You
    Emotionally Yours
    Brownsville Girl
    The Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar
    Blind Willie McTell
    Never Gonna Be The Same Again
    Dark Eyes
    Band Of The Hand

  28. Every Grain of Sand, Dark Eyes, Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar, Jokerman, Most of the Time, Dignity, Brownsville Girl, Solid Rock, Series of Dreams, Blind Willie McTell

    I discovered Dylan in the late ’70’s, so I’ve always loved his ’80’s output. I could easily list 10 more songs that are very close to my heart but not necessarily his “best” of the decade.

  29. Pressing On
    In the Summertime
    Groom Still Waiting at the Altar
    Blind Willie McTell (Bootleg Series version)
    Trust Yourself
    Something’s Burning, Baby
    Ring Them Bells
    Most of the Time
    Man in the long black coat

  30. my suggestions for top ten of Dylan´s best ten inthe eighties :

    Every grain of sand
    Ninety miles an hour (on a dead end street)
    Tell me (not sure if this is from that decade)
    Don´t fall apart on me tonight
    Brownsville girl
    Most of the Time
    Death is not the end
    Rank strangers to me
    Where teardrops fall

  31. In the Garden; What Can I Do For You; Saving Grace; Every Grain of Sand; I&I; When the Night Comes Falling From the Sky, Band of the Hand; Ring Them Bells; What Good Am I?; Blind Willie McTell

  32. By the way: The 80s have been a period in which Dylan produced almost two complete awful albums “Knocked Out Loaded” (except Brownsville Girl, a good song but totaly overproduced) and “Down In The Groove” (except Silvio). The songs of Empire Burlesque are not nearly as bad as their reputation but the production and the sound, so distinctive of the eighties does not suit Dylan’s voice or lyrics.

    But anyway, this is my choice:

    1. Blind Willie McTell
    2. Man In The Long Black Coat
    3. Most Of The Time
    4. What Was It You Wanted
    5. Ring Them Bells
    6. Dignity
    7. Lenny Bruce
    8. Dark Eyes
    9. What good Am I
    10: Carribean wWnd

  33. In the Summertime, Every Grain of Sand, Jokerman, I & I, Foot of Pride, Dark Eyes, Brownsville Girl, Ring them Bells, Most of the Time, Shooting Star

  34. Blind Willie McTell (electric)
    pressing On
    Caribbean Wind
    In the Garden
    Brownsville Girl
    Under Your Spell
    I and I
    Shot of Love

    Room for plenty more good songs. man In the long black coat didn’t quite make it.

    An lot of fans deride the 80s but it was a good era.

  35. Caribbean Wind / Blind Willie / Every Grain / Groom / Jokerman / Series of Dreams / Most Of The Time / Foot of Pride / Angelina / Ring Them Bells

    I think a case can be made that rather than the 1980’s being the “nadir” of Dylan’s career, it was actually the decade where he wrote his best songs. Yeah, I know “HERESY” … his 1960’s canon changed the world etc etc … but I find his best 80’s work more mature, and, maybe more to the point, I only ‘discovered’ Dylan in 1983, aged 15, so the 80’s were my 60’s in many respects !

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