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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79. "Romance in Durango" (1976)

Scott Avett (of the Avett Brothers): When I was growing up, I was into hardcore music; my idol was Mike Patton from Faith No More. But when I was 21, an art-school professor gave me Desire. It was an awakening. It's full of repetitive, almost poetic chanting from a man who's seen a lot. Blood on the Tracks was intimate, but Desire was edgy. Dylan sounded like a hardened, mysterious figure. He was probably going through very normal changes in his life, but the way he would articulate them was so colorful. The melody of "Romance in Durango" makes the whole song work; it's so serious and driven. And like most of Desire and Blood on the Tracks, it is relatively repetitive, but it's so good it can kind of just keep going and going. That's really much harder to do than I think anybody who isn't trying to make music knows. As far as the lyrics go, it's an amazing endeavor; Dylan was able to put his mind and heart into a specific scene – of being a lone renegade in the desert, up to all these trying and dangerous things. You're buying all the masculinities and going right along with it. It's convincing.

We got the chance to play "Maggie's Farm" with Dylan at the Grammys a couple of years ago, and I couldn't stop smiling. He was superpolite and very straightforward throughout rehearsals; there were no games. Donnie Herron, from Dylan's band, is a friend of ours, and he says that Dylan plays all day long on his bus and knows so many songs – people have no idea. He's just wiser and much further along in his journey, so we look up to him. I think we're comrades in a way. I really believe that.

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