As you may know, Austin is the music hub of the southwest. Home to musicians and music fans alike, it serves that community with a wide array of music stores which carry out of print CDs you don’t find anywhere else. I was in just such a store when I saw a used copy of Bob Dylan’s 1989 album Oh Mercy on sale for $3.95. Since I only had that album on cassette and had fond memories of that no longer accessible music, I picked it up.
I’m glad I did.
That CD, plus spending time with my siblings — Dylan fans all — got me thinking: what are my five favorite Bob Dylan songs? I’ve never been a loyal fan and his voice is certainly an acquired taste, but I’ve nevertheless had seasons where his music and his lyrics captured me.
So here they are. Much of Dylan’s music is difficult to access via YouTube, so I’ve done the best I can.
5. Every Grain Of Sand. In the late 70s and early 80s, Dylan had a controversial born-again Christian phase that produced music unlike any other in his catalog. Critics and fans have never known quite what to make of Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love, his three albums from that season
In any event, Every Grain Of Sand (from Shot Of Love) is among the most haunting and poetic of that or any era.
4. Man In A Long Black Coat. My favorite song from the Oh Mercy CD I so happily found in Austin. Dylan’s voice is at its gravelly best in this haunting track.
3. Neighborhood Bully. Dylan released Infidels in 1983, on the other side of his born-again phase, and it’s clear he can’t avoid his religious impulses. On Neighborhood Bully, his Jewish roots mix with Israeli geopolitics and this shot across the bow is the result.
To hear a sample of the song, click here and then click again on “Neighborhood Bully.”
To reach the lyrics, click here.
2. Positively 4th Street. The second best song ever sung with a sneer.
1. Like A Rolling Stone. Positively 4th Street is only the second best sneer song ever because this one is the best. Wouldn’t you hate to get on Dylan’s bad side at that stage of his life?