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100 Greatest Bob Dylan Songs

From "Just Like a Woman" to "John Wesley Harding," we count down the American icon's key masterpieces

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30. "Girl From the North Country" (1963)

Keith Richards: While the British Invasion was going on, Bob Dylan was the man who really pulled the American point of view back into focus. At the same time, he had been drawing on Anglo-Celtic folk songs, and that's certainly true of "Girl From the North Country." It's got all the elements of beautiful folk writing without being pretentious.

In the lyrics and the melody, there is an absence of Bob's later cutting edge. There's none of that resentment. He recorded it again later with Johnny Cash, but I don't think it's a duo song. Bob got it right the first time.

In a way, I see "Girl From the North Country," "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "To Ramona" as a trilogy. Is Ramona the girl from the north country? Is she the same chick who sends the boots of Spanish leather? There's some connection between them. Also, the guitar picking is almost the same lick in "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "Girl From the North Country." It's like an extension of the same song.

Before he went electric and submitted himself to the discipline of a rhythm section, there was a beautiful flow in Bob's songs that you only get with just a voice and a guitar. He can float across a bar or let certain notes hang, and it doesn't matter because it all goes with the song.

He's the most prolific writer: I think he's written more songs than I've had hot dinners. So, Bob, just keep 'em coming! He's an inspiration to us all, because he's always trying to go somewhere new. I love the man – and I love that he rock & rolls too!

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