37 Best Bob Dylan Songs

“Visions of Johnanna”

Song year: 1966

The epic “Visions of Johanna” is a mysterious and emotional song about a failed relationship and a lost lover that haunts you so that you see it everywhere.

No one knows who the named characters in the song are, but some have speculated that Johanna refers to folk singer and ex-girlfriend Joan Baez.

No matter who it’s about, this seven-and-a-half-minute song takes you on a tour through sorrow.

“Just Like a Woman”

Song year: 1966

Yet another one from fan and critic favorite Blonde on Blonde. It’s another of Dylan’s songs that seems to be about someone in particular from his life, but no one knows for sure, and he has not let the cat out of the bag.

“Just Like a Woman” came under fire for lyrics that could be seen as misogynistic. However, a deeper interpretation is that what Dylan is doing here portrays a woman who is so composed, mature, and grown-up but falls apart and becomes weak when she is hurt.

Of course, the song’s singer knows this secret about her because he hurt her and saw it firsthand. Still, this song is more of an indictment of that part of her character rather than an apology for how he treated her.

“Tangled Up in Blue”

Song year: 1966

The rollicking “Tangled Up in Blue ” from Blood on the Tracks is a nonlinear road song of a life. It’s about being caught up in sadness, sorrow, and failure, whether it’s yours or that of the people closest to you.

Dylan has played with this song a lot, often recording and performing different versions of the lyrics and changing first person to third and vice versa. Just like the timeline in this song isn’t fixed, neither is anything else about it.

“Forever Young”

Song year: 1974

Dylan recorded “Forever Young” with The Band for the album Planet Waves. Dylan had four children by that time, and they inspired this tender song about a parent’s wishes for his child.

Another one with quite a legacy, “Forever Young,” has been covered by Joan Baez, Diana Ross, The Pretenders, and Meat Loaf. It was also used as the theme song for the 2010-2015 television show, Parenthood.

“It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”

Song year: 1965

“It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” is another of Dylan’s not-so-fond farewell songs. The lyrics are beautiful but often cryptic, especially since no one knows who Dylan wrote this about. Whoever it was, it seemed like they had a lot going on, and Dylan, or the song’s narrator, was not up for all that.

“I Want You”

Song year: 1966

“I Want You” from Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde is a relatively short song for him, but it is nevertheless chock full of his trademark archetypal characters, which makes it so fun to sing along with.

At its core, this one is about pursuing a relationship with someone despite a million obstacles.

“Love Minus Zero / No Limit”

Song year: 1965

More than many songwriters, Dylan is a poet. “Love Minus Zero / No Limit” takes a tour of an almost historical seeming town to describe his love as strong, quiet, and intelligent, but also as someone who is broken and in need of his care.

Dylan married Sara Lownds the same year this was recorded and released, leaving most Dylan scholars to conclude that this song, which Dylan wrote while living at the famous Chelsea Hotel, was written for her.

“My Back Pages”

“My Back Pages”

Song year: 1964

With the album Another Side of Bob Dylan, Dylan was trying to move away from the pigeon-holed image of himself as a political and topical songwriter.

“My Back Pages” is Dylan rebelling against the idealism of his earlier days and the hypocrisy he came to see there. The song talks about how people lighten up and become more themselves through age and experience.

“She Belongs to Me”

Song year: 1965

This gentle song is a calming contrast to many of the hyper songs on Bringing It All Back Home. Big surprise, but no one agrees who the “she” of the song is though some fingers have been pointed at Joan Baez, Nico, and Caroline Coon. Of course, it could have been inspired by all of them or no one at all.

“She Belongs to Me” is about a woman who belongs only to herself. There is a sense of untouchable love and almost worship here.

“One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)”

Song year: 1976

The story goes that Dylan wrote “One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) while leaving a celebration in France. Before he left, someone asked him if he needed anything. He asked for a cup of coffee and held it while watching the sea below. The lyrics started writing themselves in his head.

This layered and string-heavy song is about someone taking a shot of reality and leaving before getting involved with someone who is probably in trouble.

“Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”

Song year: 1966

The identity of the woman who inspired “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” from Blonde on Blonde is pretty clear. If you look at the letters in the title, you can pick out the name Sara Lownds. Also, in the song “Sarah” from Blood on the Tracks, there is a line where Dylan talks about writing this song for her at The Chelsea Hotel.

So many lyrics pack into this nearly 11-minute song about someone hard to get to know, with walls that are hard to breach. There is a lot of respect, admiration, and love throughout this song, even in moments that could read as cold.

“One Too Many Mornings”

Song year: 1964

From The Times They Are A-Chanin’, “One Too Many Mornings” is about a broken relationship where the couple cannot see eye to eye.

It’s a lovely and musically sparse song about people meeting while passing each other. They’ve tried to stay, and they’ve been through a lot, but they’ve gotten nowhere, and it’s time for each of them to keep moving on their own.

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