Tag Archives: The Bootleg Series

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 (rollingstone.com)

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:


Bob Dylan’s best songs – Tangled Up In Blue

A song that took me ten years to live and two years to write
~Bob Dylan

So that the story took place in the present and the past at the same time. When you look at a painting, you can see any part of it, or you see it altogether. I wanted that song to be like a painting.
~Bob Dylan

Joni Mitchell had an album out called Blue. And it affected me, I couldn’t get it out of my head. And it just stayed in my head and when I wrote that song I wondered, what’s that mean? And then I figured that it was just there, and I guess that’s what happened, y’know.
~Bob Dylan (to Craig McGregor, March 1978)

This masterpiece in number 3 on my list of Dylans 200 best songs. Listening to it almost never fails to put me in a state of flow.. time stops.. there is nothing except this beautiful piece of art occupying my attention.. best form of mindful meditation if you ask me.

It is the best song from one of his best albums: “Blood On The Tracks” (1975):

We allow our past to exist. Our credibility is based on our past. But deep in our soul we have no past. I don’t think we have a past anymore than we have a name. You can say we have a past if we have a future. Do we have a future? No. So how can our past exist if the future doesn’t exist?
~Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Cott, Dec 1977)

But we’re only dealing with the past in terms of being able to be healed by it. We can communicate only because we both agree that this is a glass and this is a bowl and that’s a candle and there’s a window here and there are lights out in the city. Now I might not agree with that. Turn this glass around and it’s something else. Now I’m hiding it in a napkin. Watch it now. Now you don’t even know it’s there. It’s the past… I don’t even deal with it. I don’t think seriously about the past, the present or the future. I’ve spent enough time thinking about these things and have gotten nowhere.
~Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Cott, Dec 1977)

Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs – Tangled Up In Blue