No matter what music I listen to, Bob Dylan always makes the playlist. My ex-wife, Cindy, and I were drawn together in the mid-80’s by a love of Bob, and it may even be that attraction that kept our marriage alive for a dozen years. I do know lists of favorite Dylan songs are a great way to start a heated conversation—almost never for what made the top dozen—always for what was left off.
“But you don’t have anything AT ALL from Blonde on Blonde, Bringing It All Back Home or Highway 61 Revisited!”
“No ‘Blowing in the Wind,’ ‘It Ain’t Me, Babe’ or ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’? UNACCEPTABLE.”
“’Idiot Wind’ or ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ or ‘All Along the Watchtower’ (or insert any of another half-dozen titles) is the best song ever written! How can it not be on your list?”
Knowing I’m going to anger three-quarters of the Dylan fans who read this, these songs make up the heart of the canon. They are the 12 Greatest Bob Dylan songs, properly sequenced for an album, a list for which I will brook no argument.
Bob’s Greatest Songs
Baby Let Me Follow You Down
Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight
Going Going Gone
If You See Her, Say Hello
Trouble in Mind
Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
Sweetheart Like You
Baby Stop Crying
Most of the Time
Changing of the Guard
For extra credit, please begin arguing over which version of each song should represent it. To stir things up, I’ll say “Going Going Gone” was best played in Budokan.
And to calm things down, I’ll say I could easily choose a different dozen by Saturday, and feel just as strongly about them. Anything can be fired from a canon.