Spotifriday: Dylan’s 71

Yesterday, May 24th, was Bob Dylan’s 71st birthday. For this week’s Spotifriday, we’re commemorating the occasion by compiling 71 of The Airspace’s favorite Bob Dylan songs. The process was simple: Airspace writers scoured their music libraries for all Dylan recordings (live songs and bootlegs, for practical reasons, were excluded, though certainly some deserve a spot among his best); finding the best among them, we organized the songs in chronological order based on album, listed below and placed in this Spotify playlist (embedded below). We gave no consideration to popularity, contemporary sales, placement on compilations or “best of’s,” nor to influence/importance. It’s just a curated list of songs, selected by modern ears, as Dylan’s best. Enjoy, subscribe on Spotify or Share My Playlist, and share anything you feel was left out in the bottom.

Bob Dylan (1962)—Only two songs on the albums are originals. One, “Song to Woody,” made our cut.

  • Fixin’ to Die
  • Baby, Let Me Follow You Down
  • House of the Risin’ Son
  • Song to Woody

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)—The best of the truly early, truly folk Dylan albums. It reached Platinum status and established Bob Dylan as a premiere songwriter and musician.

  • Blowin’ in the Wind
  • Girl from the North Country
  • A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall
  • Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
  • Corrina, Corrina

The Times They Are a-Changin’ (1964)

  • The Time They Are a-Changin
  • Boots of Spanish Leather

Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)–An intimate album, and undoubtedly one of his best, it begins the expansion of his musical style and lyrics.

  • All I Really Want to Do
  • Chimes of Freedom
  • To Ramona
  • My Back Pages
  • It Ain’t Me Babe

Bringing It All Back Home (1965)—If Another Side began his exploration, Bringing It All Back Home solidified it.

  • Subterranean Homesick Blues
  • Maggie’s Farm
  • Mr. Tambourine Man
  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

  • Like a Rolling Stone
  • Ballad of a Thin Man
  • Desolation Row

Blonde on Blonde (1966)—With enormous depth behind each of its excellent songs, this is Dylan’s best.

  • Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
  • Pledging My Time
  • Visions of Johanna
  • One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)
  • I Want You
  • Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
  • Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
  • Just Like a Woman
  • Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)
  • 4th Time Around

John Wesley Harding (1967)—Here Dylan introduces a slightly different singing voice and returns to his country/western folk roots.

  • I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
  • All Along the Watchtower

Nashville Skyline (1969)—Dylan goes full country

  • Lay, Lady, Lay

Self Portrait (1970)

  • Days of 49
  • Take a Message to Mary

New Morning (1970)

  • Day of the Locusts
  • Went to See the Gypsy
  • The Man in Me

Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II (1971)—A compilation by Dylan whose fourth side features unreleased materal.

  • Watching the River Flow
  • I Shall Be Released

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)

  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
  • Billy 7

Planet Waves (1974)

  • Forever Young
  • Wedding Song

Blood on the Tracks (1975)

  • Tangled Up in Blue
  • You’re a Big Girl Now
  • Idiot Wind
  • Shelter from the Storm

The Basement Tapes with the Band (recorded 1967, released 1975)

  • Ain’t No More Cane
  • Lo and Behold!
  • Bessie Smith

Desire (1976)

  • Hurricane
  • One More Cup of Coffee

Slow Train Coming (1979)

  • Gotta Serve Somebody
  • Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)

Infidels (1983)

  • Jokerman

Empire Burlesque (1985)

  • Dark Eyes

Down in the Groove (1988)—This may be his weakest album that still has a song on the list.

  • Silvio

Oh Mercy (1989)

  • Everything is Broken
  • What Good Am I?

Time Out of Mind (1997)

  • Love Sick
  • Cold Irons Bound
  • Make You Feel My Love

“Love and Theft” (2001)

  • Mississippi
  • Po’ Boy

Modern Times (2006)

  • Spirit on the Water
  • Someday Baby
  • Beyond the Horizon

The final count puts the playlist at about exactly 9 hours, so if you’re, say, flying from the U.S. to Germany any time soon, this can be your soundtrack. Or if you rightfully recognize the music mastery of Dylan’s long career, this can be your resource for rediscovering his magic.


Image credit: Visions of Johanna

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