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As we get into the hundreds, we move into the lesser known Bob Dylan songs to some. But, to a Bobcat or Dylanologist, this stuff is still very surface level material. Bob Dylan's output is extraordinary and I feel we will probably never see the end of it (I hope we never see the end of it). I feel like there will be many more bootlegs and many more stories to tell (hopefully, one of those stories is Chronicles: Volume 2). With so many things happening in terms of anniversaries of albums and even Bob Dylan's birthday coming up, us bobcats are well-prepared for 2019.
Not only is Bob Dylan's 78th birthday on the way, but it is also the year that Nashville Skyline turns 50. You could listen to that album and not believe for a second that it was recorded 50 years ago—it sounds still so new. That's what the word "timeless" means. It is a beautiful album with hits like "Girl From the North Country," "Lay Lady Lay" and the song that is more famous for opening the "Rolling Thunder Revue"—"Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You." But there are hidden gems that maybe some don't know about on that album like the catchy Peggy Day or the somewhat strange-sounding bluesy Country Pie (which the "DefinitelyDylan" radio show ruined for me by telling me one of the meanings they'd read once... just ignore us please, enjoy the song).
Another anniversary is the 40th birthday of the beginning of the Gospel Era. In 1979, Bob Dylan released Slow Train Coming and thus began the three "Born-Again Christian" albums until 1981. Slow Train Coming is a beautiful album and has hits such as: "Gotta Serve Somebody," "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking" and "I Believe in You" on it. It also includes the title song, which is just as good as the others—the song "Slow Train." The album has a lovely gospel sound and makes for a great exploration into Dylan's work if you take a look at the bootleg of the gospel era: Trouble No More.
Not only that, but it is also the 30th anniversary of Oh Mercy. In 1989, Bob Dylan released this dark and brooding album which opens with the pessimistic Political World and moves through the apocalyptic visionary "Ring Them Bells" and the anti-love song "Where Teardrops Fall" and "What Good am I?" Not only that, there is one of Bob Dylan's brilliant numbers on that album as well—"Shooting Star."
We also approach the tenth birthday of the baby Together Through Life, which I feel is a highly under-appreciated album. There's something really cool and raw about that album, almost like the sound of Love And Theft, just darker and more modernised. It's Bob Dylan doing his best to update his folk rock sound, I think I appreciate both his folk rock sound from the times before I was born as much as afterwards. He still sounds brilliant to this day, even though he's decided to do jazz now.
For the live album lovers, Bob Dylan at Budokan turns 40 this year as it was released in 1979. Often regarded as one of Bob Dylan's greatest live albums, it is really a great offering by the God of Folk to bestow on us—he really does his best on this album and we appreciate it. We could celebrate by listening to it again—I believe I will be doing so!
Dylan and the Dead turns 30 this year as well, but we'd rather just forget that one exists. I think Bob Dylan would rather forget that one exists as well.
For those of you who collect the compilation albums for your commutes, Bob Dylan's Collection turns ten this year and well, it is a great album filled with Dylan classics we know and love. I don't think I need say more about how much compilation albums lighten up our hearts.
As for singles? These are the single releases that have birthdays this year, the age it becomes is in brackets:
- "I Threw It All Away/Drifter's Escape" (50)
- "Lay Lady Lay/Peggy Day" (50)
- "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You/Country Pie" (50)
- "Love Minus Zero/No Limit (Live in Budokan)/Is Your Love in Vain?" (40)
- "Gotta Serve Somebody/Trouble in Mind" (40)
- "Slow Train" (Dylan and the Dead) (30)
- "Everything is Broken" (30)
I'm sure I've missed a few, but if you're really into Bob Dylan then you'll also care about the fact that the song "End of the Line" by the Traveling Wilburys turns 30 this year as well, which I am quite excited about since that song is awesome. But, my favourite Wilbury song also turns 30 this year and that is Tweeter and the Monkey Man.
Let's get on with this then:
121. "Disease of Conceit" ('Oh Mercy')
"Comes right down the highway straight down the line, rips into your senses through your body and your mind. Nothing about it that's sweet; the disease of conceit..."
This song is somewhat both beautiful and dark at the same time, keeping with the theme of the brooding album Oh Mercy (1989). I think that this song is highly underrated because I don't see as much appreciation for it as "Ring Them Bells" or even "Everything is Broken." This song is just as good, the song fits well with "Political World" and that sort of sound more than it does with "Shooting Star" or "What Good Am I?" I think that this is possibly one of the best songs on the album, please enjoy it with me!
122. "Is Your Love in Vain? (Live)" ('Bob Dylan at Budokan')
"Do you love me, or are you just extending good will?"
I love this version of this song because it sounds beautiful, his voice is so raw and loud—you can really hear it. I would go as far as to say that it is on par with the album version and one of Bob Dylan's best live versions of his own songs (if we pretend MTV Unplugged 1995 doesn't exist then maybe). This version of the song makes Bob's vocals really come into their own and I think his singing voice needs more appreciation so please, listen to this version!
123. "Making a Liar Out of Me (Rehearsal)" ('Bootleg Volume 13: Trouble No More')
"Well I say you won't be destroyed by your inventions, that you brought it all under captivity and that you really do have all the best intentions. But you're making a liar out of me..."
I love this song, it's one of my favourites from the Gospel Era and well, I was so happy when I heard it on Trouble No More. It's a beautiful sounding song and has a real soulful vibe to it. Especially when Bob Dylan sings the lines "but you're making a liar out of me"—there's something really bluesy and soulful about his voice on that one line that makes the whole song sound great. Imagine having a song so good that you can hook people without a chorus, but with only a short refrain instead!
124. "Saved—Live 12/01/1980" ('Bootleg Volume 13: Trouble No More')
"I was blinded by the devil, born already ruined..."
Yes, it's another song from the great gospel bootleg that is Trouble No More. I love this bootleg because there's so many good live songs (you guys are just mean). Everyone who knows me knows how much I love the Gospel Era and whenever I have a binge listen of it, I always turn to this great version of the song. This was performed live and I really appreciate Bob Dylan's vocals on this—they are fantastic. It must have been amazing to have witnessed this live version at the event itself.
125. "Mr. Tambourine Man (Live)" ('Bob Dylan at Budokan')
"Oh to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, silhouetted by the sea..."
This version is incredible. I love the sound of his voice on this live album and his song is sung perfectly. This version gives the song real character and real soul, it truly is one of the most beautiful versions recorded. I honestly think that this live version is superior to any cover version that has been done of this famous folk song. If you aren't keen on listening to live stuff, then you really haven't heard Bob Dylan's live stuff have you? It is amazing.
126. "Denise, Denise" ('Back to the Roots')
"I'm looking deep in your eyes babe, but all I can see is myself..."
The sound of this song is very folkie Bob Dylan just plus a piano instead of a guitar, still there is the signature harmonica. There's a great soft blues sound to this song mixed with the American Folk sound that is something signature of Bob Dylan. I love this song for being so good, I can't imagine why he didn't include it on an actual album—it's such a good song.
127. "Baby, Please Don't Go" ('The Great White Wonder')
"You know I love you so, baby please don't go..."
It may not actually be his song, but this song is so cute—it really does remind us of early Dylan. I have to admit, albums like Back to the Roots and The Great White Wonder are hard to get your hands on, but here we are. This song is good because of its simplicity—it isn't a Masters of War or even a Chimes of Freedom—it is simple, beautiful and calm. I love it so much and I would love it if you listened to it.
128. "Life is Hard" ('Together Through Life')
"The evening winds are still; I've lost the way and will. Can't tell you where they went; I just know what they meant. I'm always on my guard, admitting life is hard without you near me..."
It keeps with the raw and updated folk rock sound of Together Through Life whilst also offering something that could've been on the album Time Out of Mind lyrically because of its dark and existential nature. It is a beautifully cautious song, progressing through this brooding character but also giving you something great to listen to. It's like hearing someone discuss their life philosophy with you and you're just concentrating on everything they say. It's like having a deep and meaningful conversation with a philosopher.
129. "Going, Going, Gone" ('Planet Waves')
"I've just reached the place where the willow don't bend. There's not much more to be said it's the top of the end. I'm going, I'm going, I'm gone..."
Here's an interesting story about this song and me. I hadn't listened to this song in ages and only last week, it came on DylanRadio when they played some sort of feature by someone else talking about Bob Dylan. They were talking about the album Planet Waves and then, they played the song "Going, Going, Gone" as a 'forgotten song' from the album that had been overshadowed by "Forever Young" and even by "Dirge." But it got me back into listening to the song—I really enjoy the sound of this song fitting into the softer sound of Planet Waves. It is so enjoyable and I can't believe I almost forgot about it. Thank you, DylanRadio for reminding me how much I love this song.
130. "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" ('Biograph')
"Use your hands and legs it won't ruin you..."
Okay, I have said in the past that I'm not overly fond of this song because it sounds a bit rowdy. But that doesn't mean I hate it entirely. I appreciate the lyrics in the chorus because it sounds like he's having fun with the song. It's a bit like "Motorpsycho Nightmare"—you don't really enjoy the song but you appreciate the funny talented lyricism of it, because it makes you laugh. Same basic concept here, just think about it in a bit of a more rowdy and loud form. The only reason it's so low is because you can hardly hear Bob Dylan's beautiful voice over the loud backing music.
I have really enjoyed writing this series and I hope you're really enjoying reading them. I know there's been a bit of time between parts 11 and 12, but this is part 13 and part 14 is underway as we speak. There's so many songs to explore when it comes to Bob Dylan and even though we aren't going to go through all of them, we are going to cover some of the ones on my playlist and some that I listen to often. Thank you for reading and well, I hope you enjoy the next part!