Bob Dylan's Greatest Songs of the 1980s

20 songs worth hearing from Dylan's most overlooked decade

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'Brownsville Girl' (1986)
Ebet Roberts/Redferns6/20

'Brownsville Girl' (1986)

1986's Knocked Out Loaded may well be the worst album in Dylan's vast catalog. (Well, maybe it's the second worst, after 1988's Down In The Groove.) Even the title suggested it was something he might have tossed together while not exactly in the best mental state. The songs are mainly covers or co-written with people like Tom Petty and Carole Bayer Sager. The only song worth listening to is "Brownsville Girl," an 11-minute epic Dylan wrote with playwright Sam Shepard. It's a bizarre masterpiece that almost redeems the whole album. The narrative is all over the place, but it keeps going back to a memory of standing in line for a Gregory Peck movie that sounds like 1950's The Gunfighter. The song was originally tiled "New Danville Girl" and intended for Empire Burlesque, but this is a rare example of a Dylan song that improved when revisited more than a year later.

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