Probably the greatest songwriter of modern times, Bob Dylan has remained an influential figure in popular music for more than 50 years now. We have compiled a list of his most popular songs. Most of the songs are from 60s and 70s when he was at the peak of his career. So here are the 10 best works of this great musician.
#10 Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
From: Blonde on Blonde (1966)
One of Bob Dylan’s most controversial songs it features the line “But I would not feel so all alone–everybody must get stoned!” It was banned by many American radio stations and the BBC, due to paranoia about “drug songs”. The song remains popular among Dylan fans due to its catchy music and lyrics.
#9 Things Have Changed
From: Wonder Boys (2000)
‘Things Have Changed’ won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It has been used in the Showtime series Brotherhood and twice in the CBS series NCIS.
#8 A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
From: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1962)
Dylan wrote this song as a response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The song has remained relevant through the years due to its broader themes of injustice, suffering, pollution and warfare.
#7 Desolation Row
From: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
The song is noted for its surreal lyrics in which Dylan weaves characters from history, fiction, the Bible and his own invention into a series of vignettes that suggest entropy and urban chaos. “Desolation Row” has been described as Dylan’s most ambitious work up to that date with its “high level of poetical lyricism.” Rolling Stone ranked the song as number 187 in their “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
From: Desire (1975)
“Hurricane” is a protest song about the imprisonment of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a professional middleweight boxer. The song compiles alleged acts of racism and profiling against Carter, which Dylan describes as leading to a false trial and conviction. The song made the Carter case known to a wide public. In 1988, a Superior Court judge dropped all charges against Carter. The song featured in the 1999 film ‘The Hurricane’ about Carter’s life.
#5 Tangled Up in Blue
From: Blood on the Tracks (1975)
In ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ Dylan has wrote lyrics which defy a fixed notion of time and space. Dylan was inspired to write this ‘multi-dimensional’ song by paintings which had multiple perspectives within a single plane of view. According to Dylan, “What’s different about it is that there’s a code in the lyrics, and there’s also no sense of time.” Rolling Stone ranked the song #6 8 on their list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
#4 Mr. Tambourine Man
From: Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
The song reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart, making it the first recording of a Dylan song to reach number 1 on any pop music chart. Due to lines such as “take me on a trip upon your magic swirling ship” and “the smoke rings of my mind”, there has been speculation about whether the song is about drugs. Bob Dylan has however denied this. The song was ranked 106 on Rolling Stone’s list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
#3 Blowin’ in the Wind
From: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
The song poses a series of rhetorical questions about peace, war and freedom. In 1975, the song was included as poetry in a new high school English textbook in Sri Lanka. The textbook caused controversy because it replaced Shakespeare’s work with Dylan’s. The song has been used as a protest song most noticeably during the Iraq war. In 1994, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2004, it was ranked #14 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
#2 The Times They Are a-Changin
From: The Times They Are a-Changin (1964)
Dylan wrote this song as an attempt to create an anthem of change for the moment. The song has been used multiple times in visual media most prominently in the opening credits of the 2009 superhero-noir film Watchmen. The song was ranked #59 on Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
#1 Like a Rolling Stone
From: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
‘Like a Rolling Stone’ has been described as revolutionary in its combination of different musical elements, the youthful, cynical sound of Dylan’s voice, and the directness of the question in the chorus: “How does it feel?” Unlike conventional chart hits of the time, the lyrics of the song were not about love, but expressed resentment and a yearning for revenge. The song has been cited as a popular culture milestone which elevated Dylan’s image to iconic. In 2004 Rolling Stone picked the song as number one in its list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.