June 16: Bob Dylan recorded Like A Rolling Stone in 1965

Bob Dylan - like-a-rolling-stone

….would be Like A Rolling Stone because I wrote that after I’d quit. I’d literally quit singing and playing, and I found myself writing this song, this story, this long piece of vomit about twenty pages long, and out of it I took Like A Rolling Stone and made it as a single. And I’d never written anything like that before and it suddenly came to me that that was what I should do, you know. I mean, nobody had ever done that before.
~Bob Dylan (to Martin Bronstein – Feb 1966)

.. The sound is so rich the song never plays the same way twice
~Greil Marcus

The first time I heard Bob Dylan, I was in the car with my mother listening to WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody had kicked open the door to your mind
~Bruce Springsteen (Jan 1988)


First time I really listened to “Like A Rolling Stone”, I felt I entered a parallel universe.. a place of intense beauty.. a place filled with this wonderful blues-fueled rock music… and a spellbinding ..organ! I had never heard anything like it.. anything this good..

That was the day I understood that there is bad music, good music, great music & then there is Bob Dylan. He plays in another league. His musical universe is still as beautiful now as it was first time I flew into it.. “Like A Rolling Stone” still sounds as fresh as it did the first time I listened ~25 years ago.

..HOW does it feeeeeel?

Let’s not start with the original version (as most of you reading this probably have heard hundreds of times), but instead a frightening version.. a slow & demanding versions… an “ugly” version (some people might say).. a dangerous version.. but most importantly a BRILLIANT version:

…We get to hear a rarity on the tour… Bob introduces The Band. Then he kicks into the highlight of disc one… a paifully slow Like A Rolling Stone in which Bob spits words at the crowd with venom, and drags them into eternity.

@ Royal Albert Hall – London, England – 26 May 1966:

Everything is changed now from before. Last spring I guess I was going to quit singing. I was very drained and the way things were going it was a very draggy situation – I mean, when you do Everybody Loves You For Your Black Eye and meanwhile the back of your head is caving in. Anyway, I was playing a lot of songs I didn’t want to play. I was singing words I didn’t really want to sing. I don’t mean words like “God” and “mother” and “president” and “suicide” and “meat cleaver”. I mean simple little words like “if” and “hope” and “you”. But Like A Rolling Stone changed it all; I didn’t care any more after that about writing books or poems or whatever. I mean it was something that I myself could dig. It’s very tiring having other people tell you how much they dig you if you yourself don’t dig you. It’s also very deadly entertainment-wise. Contrary to what some scary people think, I don’t play with a band now for any kind of propaganda-type or commercial-type reasons. It’s just that my songs are pictures and the band makes the sound of the pictures.
~Bob Dylan (to Nat Hentoff – March 1966)

To be without a home

“Like A Rolling Stone” was recorded @ the second “Highway 61 Revisited” recording sessions on June 16 – 1965,  produced by Tom Wilson.

dylan 1965

Studio A
Columbia Recording Studios
New York City, New York
16 June 1965

  1. Like A Rolling Stone
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  4. Like A Rolling Stone
    (original version)

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  16. Why Should You Have To Be So Frantic?

Like a complete unknown


  • Bob Dylan (guitar, piano, harmonica, vocal)
  • Mike Bloomfield (guitar)
  • Al Gorgoni (guitar)
  • Frank Owens (piano)
  • Bobby Gregg (drums)
  • Joseph Macho Jr. (bass)
  • Al Kooper (organ)

bob duylan studio 1965

Like a rolling stone

Like a Rolling Stone” is a 1965 song by the American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Its confrontational lyrics originate in an extended piece of verse Dylan wrote in June 1965, when he returned exhausted from a grueling tour of England. After the lyrics were heavily edited, “Like a Rolling Stone” was recorded a few weeks later as part of the sessions for the forthcoming album Highway 61 Revisited. During a difficult two-day pre-production, Dylan struggled to find the essence of the song, which was demoed without success in 3/4 time. A breakthrough was made when it was tried in a rock music format, and rookie session musician Al Kooper improvised the organ riff for which the track is known. However, Columbia Records was unhappy with both the song’s length at over six minutes and its heavy electric sound, and was hesitant to release it. It was only when a month later a copy was leaked to a new popular music club and heard by influential DJs that the song was put out as a single. Although radio stations were reluctant to play such a long track, “Like a Rolling Stone” reached number two in the US charts and became a worldwide hit.


The famous – Newcastle 66 version (video):

“Like A Rolling Stone” is also no doubt the most famous song ever written out of sheer boredom
~Mark Polizzotti (33-1/3 – Highway 61 Revisited)


Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You’ve gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
And now you find out you’re gonna have to get used to it
You said you’d never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He’s not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And ask him do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made
Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
But you’d better lift your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Here is the Liverpool 66 version:

on no other record does the sound, or the act, so call attention to itself, as an absolute announcement that something new has begun
~Greil Marcus (“Like A Rolling Stone)

So.. finally the best live version… Manchester 66 (spotify):

‘Rolling Stone’ ‘s the best song I wrote…
~Bob Dylan (to Ralph J. Gleason – March 1966)

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14 thoughts on “June 16: Bob Dylan recorded Like A Rolling Stone in 1965”

  1. This ‘ lost ‘ verse from “ Like a Rolling Stone “ suggests it WAS about Edie Sedgewick…

    “ little girl lost
    You paid the cost
    Got yourself tossed
    Right across
    The Factory floor

    Feelin’ bad
    Was all you had
    You couldn’t even
    Get your bag
    Inside the door

    You had it made there too
    The brightest animal in their zoo
    Now you find they were not your kind
    When they told you to leave your past behind
    Denying everything you once were and more
    How does it feel…”..

    Cannot for the life of me remember where I
    read it. I was reading Sam Shepards Rolling Thunder logbook while hitchhiking around Irelsnd and France 1978 and was reading Melody Maker all the time.but can’t remember where it appeared but I remember the verse clear as day…

  2. Tyler: Egil’s is a great list. But, like you, I rate Mr. Tambourine Man a bit higher. For me, it ranks as Dylan’s third greatest song…after Like a Rolling Stone and Visions of Johanna.

    But we’re all friends and Dylan-lovers here. Peace.

  3. as I read the post of Dylan starting his European Tour now on 16th of June in Dublin, making allusions to Bloomsday celebrating Ulysses of James Joyce, the great novel of novels that took place on June 16th, I cannot help but smile, realizing that this song of songs was recorded on… I know it means nothing, just like Dylan said on the back of Highway 61, but it’s a kind of magic… part of his charm and only possible if your work is so all over the place like his…

  4. Hey Egil, I just saw this site from expecting rain, and am so far really enjoying it. I am a huge Dylan fan as well, and I just looked at your ranking of top 10 songs of his. I am curious, why don’t you have Mr. Tambourine Man up there? There are too many greats that I can’t name a personal favorite, but that one for me would certainly be top 5. Just curious.

  5. Egil,

    This is a good post, many thanks. However, given the supreme position of this composition in the Bob Dylan canon you should really include some reference and links to the searchable versions resulting in the final recorded version as they are documented in fine style on the Highway 61 Interactive CD-ROM. I don’t know if it is still in print but this CD provides an extraordinary insight from the studio perspective of the evolution on this truly great number.

    1. Thanks for you comment Dave,

      I will search out my copy of “Highway 61 Interactive CD-ROM”… I know it’s somewhere in my archive.. 🙂
      Hope it still works…. This should be fun!


  6. Who could give a more fitting description of the song’s effect on us all than Bruce at the R&R Hall of Fame induction for Bob? Here’s more of that quote:

    ” The way that Elvis freed your body, Dylan freed your mind, and showed us that because the music was physical did not mean it was anti-intellect. He had the vision and talent to make a pop song so that it contained the whole world. He invented a new way a pop singer could sound, broke through the limitations of what a recording could achieve, and he changed the face of rock’n’roll for ever and ever”.

    Thanks for the wonderful post.

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