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20 Overlooked Bob Dylan Classics

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"Pretty Boy Floyd" (Folkways: A Vision Shared — A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, 1988)
Dylan gave many shout-outs to Woody Guthrie over the years, most directly in this cover from the tribute album Folkways: A Vision Shared, reviving the outlaw tale that helped inspire classics like "John Wesley Harding" and "Drifter's Escape."

"Tweeter and the Monkey Man" (The Traveling Wilburys, Traveling Wilburys-Vol. 1, 1988)
If only he'd done a whole album of these, instead of the actual albums he was grinding out at the time. This shaggy-dog hippie tale (from the Traveling Wilburys album) has all the wild humor of Thomas Pynchon's Vineland, goofing on Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, the Sixties and — most of all — Bob Dylan.

The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Bob Dylan

"Born In Time" (Under the Red Sky, 1990)
Yet another Oh Mercy outtake. He fumbled the song on the atrocious Under the Red Sky, but this definitively gritty version eventually came out on Tell Tale Signs.

"Blood In My Eyes" (World Gone Wrong, 1993)
The highlight of his pivotal voice-recovery project of the early Nineties, turning blues and folk oldies into the sound of a brand new Dylan growl. He captures the wit of the Mississippi Sheiks' 1931 original, but adds his own sly menace as he purrs, "Hey babe, I got blood in my eyes for you."

"Series of Dreams" (The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3, 1991)
The conceptual centerpiece of Oh Mercy. Except in the tradition of "Blind Willie McTell" and "Caribbean Wind," Dylan left the centerpiece off the album.

"She's Your Lover Now" (The Bootleg  Series Vol. 1-3, 1991)
"Pain sure brings out the best in people, doesn't it?" Sure does, Bob. Mr. Charm shows off his sparkling personality with six minutes of mega-bitch ice-queen putdowns, spewing enough venom to make Andy Warhol's Factory scene look like sarcasm amateurs. Even the guys in the Band must have felt a little uneasy at the moment when Dylan sneers, "You just sit around and ask for ashtrays. Can't you reach?"

Bob Dylan's Late-Era, Old-Style American Individualism

"Standing in the Doorway" (Time Out of Mind, 1997)
It's easy to forget, because of all the other millions of things Dylan does, but he sure does write great brooding woman-loss songs. His voice here sounds even more bereft than Auggie Meyers' organ.

"Nettie Moore" (Modern Times, 2006)
A change of pace on Modern Times: a stately tribute to nineteenth-century parlor piano ballads, more Stephen Foster than Muddy Waters, with Dylan claiming, "I'm the oldest son of a crazy man / I'm in a cowboy band."

"Dreamin' of You" (The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs, 2008)
Another standout from Tell Tale Signs, this one cut for Time Out of Mind, recycling lyrics from "Standing in the Doorway." Dylan plays a lonesome fugitive, trailing a woman who's an even craftier fugitive than he is.

"Huck's Tune" (The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs, 2008)
From the soundtrack of the barely noticed Drew Barrymore film Lucky You, saved for posterity on Tell Tale Signs. It's a slow-burning romantic blues: "When I kiss your lips the honey drips / But I'm gonna have to put you down for a while."

RELATED:

The 10 Best Bob Dylan Bootlegs

A History of Violence: Murder and Justice in Bob Dylan Songs

The Greatest Bob Dylan Covers

Bob Dylan's Funniest Songs

Bob Dylan's Most Inscrutable Songs

See all of our Bob Dylan at 70 coverage here.

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

More Song Stories entries »
 
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