Today is Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday! It’s hard to believe that rock’s poet laureate has been making music for a half-century! To celebrate his birthday, Rolling Stone magazine put together a panel of 13 music writers and musicians to select Dylan’s 70 greatest songs. I was extremely honored to have been a part of that panel. Each panelist had to submit a list of their top 25 Bob Dylan songs. My list featured “Like a Rolling Stone” at number one. I guess the other panelists agreed, as that song was number one in the final rankings. The song was really revolutionary. Even though it clocked in at more than six minutes, it became a hit, reaching Number Two on the charts. The musicianship, as Bono wrote in his Rolling Stone essay about the song, “is so alive and immediate that it’s like you’re getting to see the paint splash the canvas.” But most important are the lyrics, as Dylan attacks the “all the pretty people,” the ones “thinkin’ they got it made.”
The rest of my top ten was as follows: “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “I Shall Be Released,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Masters of War” and “Rainy Day Woman, #12 & 35.” Many of the song descriptions were written by other artists, including Bono , Mick Jagger, David Crosby and Keith Richards. Bob Dylan had a dramatic impact on popular music, and it’s really great that’s he’s still around and still an active artist.