Top 5 Bob Dylan Songs (Willfully Obscure Edition)

I quite like Bob Dylan*, and him winning the Nobel Prize is good reason to go listen to him again – it’s been a while actually! Here’s 5 lesser known songs for you – yes, I know they are maybe not as good as Visions of Johanna or Desolation Row, but you’ve heard those before…

*understatement alert

  1. Up to Me – Unreleased (Blood on the Tracks outtake)

I guess when you make an album as good as Blood On The Tracks, not every song is going to make it – and in fairness this quite similar in style and sound to a couple of the classic ones on there so may not quite have fit. However, by itself it’s an amazing song, genuinely as good as some of his best.

Oh, the union central is pullin’ out
The orchids are in bloom
I’ve only got me one good shirt left and it smells of stale perfume
In fourteen months I’ve only smiled once and I didn’t do it consciously
Somebody’s got to find your trail
I guess it must be up to me

  1. Every Grain Of Sand – Bootleg Series 1-3

This is one of my favourite Bob songs to sing – I think I learned it when we had a piano in a house in Manchester. I really like a lot of his religious stuff and the lyrics to this are beautiful, conveying a real sense of wonder. This version is much rawer and more emotional than the album version, and you can hear dogs barking outside!

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand

  1. Hurricane – The Bootleg Series Vol. 5 Live 1975

 

 

There are some good live Bob albums, but this one is outstanding. Recorded with the Desire band (I think) playing this one faster, louder and looser than on the album. Hard to claim any recording is the definitive version of a song, but……

Still unfortunately very relevant.

How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand ?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.

  1. Most of the Time – Oh Mercy

 

Oh Mercy is an album I like a lot, and I think Bob probably does as well after reading Chronicles. This is heartbreak like a punch in the gut.

Most of the time
She ain’t even in my mind
I wouldn’t know her if I saw her
She’s that far behind
Most of the time
I can’t even be sure
If she was ever with me
Or if I was with her

  1. Lo and Behold! – The Basement Tapes

 

Greil Marcus called this an album about “The old weird America”, and that’s what you can hear on songs like this and Clothesline Saga… Loose, conversational and mundane but downright strange at the same time. I probably like the idea of the Basement Tapes a bit more than I like actually listening to it, but that’s OK. It’s good to be silly, and it’s good to hole up with a bunch of musicians and just mess around!

What’s it to ya, Moby Dick?
This is chicken town!

Honorable mentions to The Changing of The Guard (Street Legal), Man Gave Names to All The Animals (Slow Train Coming) and Mississippi (Tell Tale Signs – Bootleg Series Vol 8)

 


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