I can’t say that Bob Dylan is the greatest American singer-songwriter of all time – only because I don’t know that there’s an answer to that perennial question. He is certainly one of the most influential. And he’s the one I hold most dear. If you consider lyrics to be literature, then Bob Dylan is the William Faulkner of the music world. An inscrutable, caustic, resonant, lexically gifted lyrical pioneer…
What else can I say about the man who reinvented American music, introduced The Beatles to marijuana, and influenced at least two American presidents? Nothing. Because if I continue, my level of coherency will likely decrease as my use of glowing descriptors increase – sort of like Dylan at the ’91 Grammy’s. And after 25 years of less than healthy levels of adoration, I have a lot of glowing descriptors to use (save his late 1970’s-early 1980’s period, because in the words of John Lennon – “serve yourself”).
The man is a living legend and cultural icon. I admire everything from his anger to his domesticity to his stance on birth control. I willingly overlook his oddest moments, because we all go a little crazy sometimes (just ask Norman Bates). While I will never squee or fangirl, if it were to happen – Dylan would be the most likely candidate. Bono might have said it best: “It’s like trying to talk about the pyramids. What do you do? You just stand back and…gape.” While I wholeheartedly agree with Bono’s assessment, I feel it’s important to note that I otherwise can’t stand U2. I realize my sentiments are not likely to win me any fans, but while I’m at it I’ll add that I also don’t like The Pixies. Or Beyonce. I know – for shame. So save the hate mail.
Returning to the topic at hand, I recently purchased the Rolling Stone Special Collectors Edition ‘Bob Dylan’. I’ll forgo reviewing the collection, as it is essentially a compilation of articles and interviews from the last several years – most of which I’ve read. However, on the cover is the enticing headline ‘His 100 Greatest Songs’, so I was curious how my favorite Bob Dylan songs compared to the Rolling Stone list. I’ll spare you the full 100, here’s the top ten:
1. Like a Rolling Stone
2. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
3. Tangled Up in Blue
4. Just Like a Woman
5. All Along the Watchtower
6. I Shall be Released
7. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
8. Mr. Tambourine Man
9. Visions of Johanna
10. Every Grain of Sand
As compared to my top ten:
1. Shelter From the Storm (#66)
2. ‘Til I Fell in Love With You (not ranked)
3. Things Have Changed (#51)
4. Tangled Up in Blue (#3)
5. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) (#82)
6. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (#61)
7. Positively 4th Street (#16)
8. Just Like a Woman (#4)
9. You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (not ranked)
10. Blowin’ in the Wind (#20)
Rolling Stone and I are only 20% compatible. I don’t know if I should be worried about the future of our reading relationship. I suppose as long as they keep providing coverage of Stephen King and John Mellencamp’s musical, I’ll keep reading.
One of Us Must Know: I couldn’t see what you could show me / Your scarf had kept your mouth well hid / I couldn’t see how you could know me / But you said you knew me and I believed you did
If You See Her, Say Hello: And I’ve never gotten used to it / I’ve just learned to turn it off / Either I’m too sensitive / Or else I’m getting soft
Every Grain of Sand: I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame / And every time I pass that way I always hear my name / Then onward in my journey I come to understand / That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand
Well said Bob Dylan. I am done deifying you. Temporarily.
Opinions? Arguments? Please tell me at least one other reader could write a Bob Dylan inspired love story…
And cue the crickets.