The 23 best songs from Bob Dylan’s “The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs”


If Dylan’s songs were once protests looking for rectification — if his language was once phantasmagoric and tricky to decipher — well, that was wonderful, but things have changed. Tell Tale Signs sets a new milestone for this American artist. Dylan has always written about morally centerless times, but this collection comes from a different perspective — not something born of the existential moment but of the existential long view and the courage of dread. Jack Fate, Dylan’s character in Masked and Anonymous, intones what might work as the pracis for this album: “Seen from a fair garden, everything looks cheerful. Climb to a higher plateau, and you’ll see plunder and murder. Truth and beauty are in the eye of the beholder. I tried to stop figuring everything out a long time ago.” For a long time, we’ve asked Dylan to deliver us truths. Now that he has, we need to ask ourselves if we can live with them.
~Mikal Gilmore (

About a year ago we ran a poll asking readers to vote for their favorite “Tell Tale Signs” songs.

Original challenge:


I hereby challenge all readers to put out their personal list of the 10 best songs from Bob Dylan’s lovely “The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989–2006”.

Top 5 is also appreciated.

Use the comments section in this post or check out our Facebook page.

The poll will be open till Tuesday’ish.


  • Top 5 on provided lists got 2 points each & 6-10 got 1 point
  • 25 Bob Dylan experts voted

The results

1 Red River Shore (Unreleased #1, Time Out of Mind) 36 points
2 Cross the Green Mountain (from the Gods and Generals soundtrack) 31 points
3 Born in Time (Unreleased #1, Oh Mercy) 29 points
4 Tell Ol’ Bill (Alternate version of song released on the North Country soundtrack) 28 points
5 Huck’s Tune (From the Lucky You soundtrack) 27 points
6 Mississippi  (Unreleased #1, Time Out of Mind) 17 points
7 Most Of The Time (Alternate version #1, Oh Mercy) 16 points
8 Can’t Wait (Alternate version #1, Time Out of Mind) 14 points
9 Dreamin’ of You (Unreleased #1, Time Out of Mind) 13 points
10 Ring Them Bells* (Live at The Supper Club, November 17, 1993, New York, NY) 9 points
11 High Water (For Charley Patton) (Live, August 23, 2003, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada) 8 points
12 Marchin’ to the City (Unreleased #1, Time Out of Mind) 7 points
13 Ain’t Talkin’ (Alternate version, Modern Times) 6 points
13 Dignity (Piano demo, Oh Mercy) 6 points
13 Everything Is Broken (Alternate version, Oh Mercy) 6 points
13 Series of Dreams (Unreleased, Oh Mercy) 6 points
13 Tryin’ to Get to Heaven (Live, October 5, 2000, London, England) 6 points
13 Can’t Escape from You (Unreleased, December 2005 recording) 6 points
19 32-20 Blues (Robert Johnson) (Unreleased, World Gone Wrong) 5 points
20 Mary and the Soldier (Unreleased, World Gone Wrong) 3 points
20 Red River Shore (Unreleased version #2, Time Out of Mind) 3 points
20 Someday Baby (Alternate version, Modern Times) 3 points

* there are 3 versions of this song included on TTS & it was not clear from the votes which versions were chosen. I will presume everyone voted for the best one.. the supper club version.

Spotify (without songs from the bonus disc)

My List:

  1. “Red River Shore” – 7:36 (Unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
  2. “Huck’s Tune” – 4:09 (From the Lucky You soundtrack)
  3. “Born in Time” – 4:10 (Unreleased version #1, Oh Mercy)
  4. “‘Cross the Green Mountain” – 8:15 (from the Gods and Generals soundtrack)
  5. “Tell Ol’ Bill” – 5:31 (Alternate version of song released on the North Country soundtrack)
  6. “Mississippi” – 6:04 (Unreleased version #1, Time Out of Mind)
  7. “Most of the Time” – 3:46 (Alternate version, Oh Mercy)
  8. “Dignity” – 2:09 (Piano demo, Oh Mercy)
  9. “God Knows” – 3:12 (Unreleased, Oh Mercy)
  10. “Marchin’ to the City” – 6:36 (Unreleased, Time Out of Mind)


Check out:


20 thoughts on “The 23 best songs from Bob Dylan’s “The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs””

  1. 1 Cross the Green Mountain (from the Gods and Generals soundtrack) 31 points
    2 Ain’t Talkin’ (Alternate version, Modern Times)
    3 Most Of The Time (Alternate version #1, Oh Mercy)
    4 Mississippi (Unreleased #1, Time Out of Mind)
    5 Dreamin’ of You (Unreleased #1, Time Out of Mind)
    6 Born in Time (Unreleased #1, Oh Mercy)
    7 Huck’s Tune (From the Lucky You soundtrack)
    6 Miss the Mississippi…and you
    7 Can’t Wait (Alternate version #1, Time Out of Mind)
    8 Cocaine blues (live)
    9 9 Dreamin’ of You (Unreleased #1, Time Out of Mind)
    10 Dignity (Piano demo, Oh Mercy)

  2. 1) Across the Green Mountain
    2) Tell Old Bill
    3) Most of the Time
    4) Ring Them Bells
    5) Huck’s Tune
    6) High Water
    7) The Girl from the Red River Shore
    8) Born in Time
    9) Marching to the City
    10) Dreaming of You


  3. Love this album

    1. Cross the Green Mountain
    2. Most of the time
    3. Mississippi
    4. Born in Time
    5. Everything Broken
    6. Series of Dreams
    7. Ring them bells
    8. Dreamin of you
    9. Red River Shore
    10. Huck’s Tune

  4. 1. Red River Show
    2. Ring Them Bells (Version 1)
    3.) Huck’s Tune
    4.) Born in Time (Version 1)
    5.) Tell Ol’ Bill

  5. I am strongly tempted — oh, what the heck — I shall cheat and include the third disk.
    1. Red River Shore (7:34)
    2. Red River Shore (7:06)
    3. Cross the Green Mountain
    4. Dignity (2:12)
    5. Mississippi (6:04)
    6. Series of Dreams (6:26)
    7. Born in Time (4:11)
    8. Dignity (5:24)
    9. Huck’s Tune
    10. Born in Time (4:14)
    And I’ve left out Tell Ol’ Bill and Dreamin’ of You (if you nix the duplications, add ’em in) and all the live cuts and … anyway, after the first three I change my mind all the time. Seriously, this is certainly my favorite official Dylan compilation since Greatest Hits Vol 2, and in terms of sheer number of plays provides 12 of my personal iTunes Top 30. I can see how Red River Shore did not quite fit on TooM, but its omission ranks up there with Blind Willie McTell.

  6. 1- Missipi (Disk 2)
    2- Setie of Dreams
    3- Dignity
    4- Most of the Time
    5- Red River Shore
    6- Tryin tio Get to Heaven
    7- Cross the Green Mountain
    8- Ring Them Bells

  7. 1 Cross the green mountain
    2 Red river shore
    3 Huck’s Tune
    4 Tell Ol Bill
    5 Tryin to get to heaven(Live)
    6 Mississippi #1
    7 Born in time
    8 Can’t wait # 1
    9 Mary and the Soldier
    10 Dreamin’ of you

  8. 1. Red River Shore
    2.’ Cross the Green Mountain
    3. Born in Time
    4. Huck’s Tune
    5. Tell Ol’ Bill
    6. Can’t Wait (alt, Time Out of Mind)
    7. The Girl on the Greenbriar Shore
    8. Most of the Time (alt, Oh Mercy)
    9. Mississippi (unreleased 1)
    10. Ring Them Bells (Supper Club)

  9. Well, you asked for 15, so here goes,

    1. Red River Shore – Disc 1
    2. Mississippi – Disc 1
    3. Can’t Wait – Disc 1
    4. Huck’s Song – Disc 1
    5. Dreaming 0f You – Disc 1
    6. Tell ‘Ol Bill – Disc 1
    7. Cross the Green Mountain – Disc 2
    8. Marching to the City – Disc 1
    9. Can’t Escape from You – Disc 2
    10. Duncan and Brady – Disc 3
    11. Ring Them Bells – Disc 2
    12. The Lonesome River – Disc 2
    13. Everything is Broken – Disc 1
    14. Someday Baby – Disc 1
    15. Tryin’ to Get to Heaven – Disc 3

    Apparently Disc 1 is my favorite…

  10. 1. Can’t Wait (piano, guitar, and drums) Daniel Lanois brings out the best of Bob here.

    2. High Water (for Charley Patton) The first time I heard the studio version on “Love and Theft”, I knew there was a killer rock song buried under that banjo. That was realized with this performance (my favourite of ALL Bob’s official live recordings.) “Coffins dropping in the street like balloons made out Led.”

    3. Everything is Broken “Saw James Dean in a picture, comin’ in from cold/ Said, “Geez, I hope I look that good is I get to be that old.””

    4. Huck’s Tune

    5. Cocaine Blues “Cocaine’s for horses an’ it’s not for men/ Doctor say it’ll kill ya, but he don’t say when.”

    6. 32-20 Blues

    7. Most of the Time. This is what the best country music should be like– twangy and super sad like Hank Sr.

    8. Red River Shore. Another beautiful country ballad.

    9 Trying to Get to Heaven

    10..Tell Ol’ Bill

    I’ve listened to Tell Tale Signs hundreds of times (No exaggeration.) Stunned each time that these are the outtakes, When I here Bob say, “If we do it in, uh, how about B flat?” when Can’t Wait comes up on random play on my mp3 player, I get a little happier because I know I’m listening to the best song I’m gonna here all day.

  11. My list:
    1. Tell Ol’ Bill (alt. version)
    2. Ain’t talkin’ (alt. version)Red River Shore
    3. Most of the Time
    4. Dreamin of you
    5. Can’t Wait (alt.version)
    6. Series of dreams (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
    7. Cross the green mountain

    This collection of songs is just the zeitgeist, where the untouchable songwriting is only matched by the incredible music. Buying this album changed my life, It’s an album that I keep returning to, and still marvel at it’s genius. Thanks to all who made it happen.
    8. Ring them Bells
    9. Born in time (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
    10. Dignity (Piano demo)

  12. It took a while but Huck’s Tune blows me away. Love the live version of High Water, Cross the Green Mountain, Mississippi, Can’t Escape From You

  13. 1. Can’t Wait
    2. Dreamin of you
    3. Red River Shore
    4. Born in time
    5. Marching to the city
    6. Cross the green mountain
    7. High Water – Live 2003
    8. Hucks Tune
    9. Someday baby
    10. Mississippi – version # 1

    This collection of songs is incredible – beats a lot of studioalbums that Bob put out during his career. My top 3 could easily be tossed around, but I feel obligaded to put Can’t wait in the top slot because of how it have moved me during the years. Maybe Bobs toughest break up-song. It has a dark energy that captures me.

  14. My list:
    1. Red River Shore
    2. Mississippi (disc 1)
    3. I Can’t Escape from You
    4. Most of the Time
    5. Everything is Broken
    6. Ring them Bells
    7. Huck’s Tune
    8. ‘Cross the Green Mountain
    9. The Lonesome River
    10. Born in Time

    Ps Happy Birthday Leonard !!! Try ‘Lover Lover Lover’ from Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979. Brilliant !!!

    1. Well done, Roger. The first to mention ‘Can’t Escape from You’, an absolute gem of a song; and the phrasing…sublime!

  15. My list:
    1. Cross the green mountain
    2. Red River Shore
    3. Can’t Wait (alt.version)
    4. High Water for Charlie Patton (live)
    5. Tell Ol’ Bill (alt. version)
    6. Born in time (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
    7. Ain’t talkin’ (alt. version)
    8. Huck’s Tune
    9. Dignity (Piano demo)
    10. Series of dreams (unreleased, Og Mercy)

    – Hallgeir (alldylan)

  16. 1. Born In Time

    When I thought
    You were gone
    You came back

    Bob totally nailed the sensation of a sudden re-ignition of burning and yearning not only in the words but in the delicate inflection of exquisite tenderness.

    2. Red River Shore

    Again, the sensation of a futile search for a lost love moved me tremendously.

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