Appreciating the best of Bob Dylan on his 80th birthday

By Robert Sarner, May 23, 2021

As many of you know, tomorrow is Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday. For those of us for whom his music has long had a central place in our lives, it’s a moment to reflect on his enormous contribution to the world since he released his first album in 1962.

To mark the milestone, I planned to compile a list of 80 Dylan songs that have most resonated with me. Such is the richness of his more than 600-song oeuvre and my boundless affinity for it, I couldn’t limit my selection to less than 100.

Even that was a struggle as I had to exclude another 200 songs of his that I never tire of listening to. What I couldn’t do was put the 100 in order of preference. As a result, I’m simply listing them below alphabetically.

My list is of course highly subjective. Everybody, at least among those who like Dylan, has his or her own preferences. But no one, not even those who dislike his work, can deny the lasting impact he’s had on popular culture over the past 60 years.

Herewith my 100 favourite Bob Dylan songs on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Long may he continue to create.

Absolutely Sweet Marie
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Ain’t Talkin’
All Along the Watchtower
All I Really Want to Do
A Man of Constant Sorrow

Ballad in Plain D
Ballad of a Thin Man
Beyond Here Lies Nothin’
Black Diamond Bay
Blind Willie McTell (Studio Outtake)
Blowin’ in the Wind
Bob Dylan’s Dream
Boots of Spanish Leather

Chimes of Freedom

Days of 49
Desolation Row
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright

Father of Night
Forever Young (Slow Version)
Fourth Time Around

Girl from the Red River Shore
Girl from the North Country (Version with Johnny Cash)
Going, Going, Gone

Gotta Serve Somebody

Hard Times in New York Town
House of the Rising Sun
Huck’s Tune

Idiot Wind
I Don’t Believe You
If Not for You
If You See Here, Say Hello
I’ll Keep It With Mine
It Ain’t Me Babe
It Takes A Lot to Laugh, A Train to Cry
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
It’s Alright Ma, (I’m Only Bleeding)
I Threw It All Away
I Want You

Just Like A Woman
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues

Key West (Philosopher Pirate)

Lay Down Your Weary Tune
License to Kill
Like A Rolling Stone
Love Minus Zero/No Limit

Man Gave Names to All the Animals
Man in the Long Black Coat
Most of the Time (Alternate Version)
Motorpsycho Nightmare
Murder Most Foul
My Back Pages

Not Dark Yet

One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)
One More Coffee (Valley Below)
One Too Many Mornings

Positively 4th Street
Pretty Saro

Queen Jane Approximately

Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
Scarlet Town
Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)

Series of Dreams
She Belongs to Me
Shelter from the Storm
Sign on the Window
Simple Twist of Fate
Something There Is About You
Song to Woody
Spanish Harlem Incident
Spirit on the Water
Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again

Talkin’ New York
Tangled Up in Blue
Tell Ol’ Bill (Alternate Version)
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
The Times They Are A-Changin’
Things Have Changed
Tombstone Blues
Tomorrow Is A Long Time
Tough Mama

Visions of Johanna

We Better Talk This Over
Wedding Song
Went to See the Gypsy
What Good Am I?
What Was It You Wanted
When You Gonna Wake Up
When The Ship Comes In
Who Killed Davey Moore
With God on Our Side

You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Studio Outtake)