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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46. "Jokerman" (1983)

Chris Martin: I got into Bob Dylan when I was 16. I'd heard the myth, "Oh, Bob Dylan, he can't sing." But at this point, half the CDs I own are Dylan albums. About once a year, I'll spend a month listening to Dylan and nothing else.

I discovered Infidels after I saw the video for "Jokerman." It had Italian paintings and religious imagery. I'd thought I was a massive Dylan fan, but "Jokerman" was a shock: "How can this guy have a song that comes from this other world, and it's still so brilliant?" Mark Knopfler and Mick Taylor on guitars. And Sly and Robbie brought that reggae vibe. The song feels 87 minutes long, like dinner finally came around and they stopped rolling tape. I spend eight weeks writing two lines.

I don't think about who this Jokerman is – whether it's God, Satan or Dylan himself. The beauty is in the mystery. I love the lines "The book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy/The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers." And the chorus, with that "oh-oh-oh" chant out of tune – the only other person who can get away with singing like that is Jay Z, on "D.O.A." It sounds effortless in the best possible way.

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