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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29. "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" (1971)

How did Dylan spend the Summer of Love? Holed up in a basement in upstate New York, making strange demos with his friends in the Band, singing this stoic warning about tough times ahead: "Strap yourself to the tree with roots/You ain't goin' nowhere." The first time most people heard "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" was in the Byrds' straight country rendition on 1968's Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Dylan released it later as one of the new tracks on his Greatest Hits Vol. II, turning it into a good-time banjo shuffle and adding a sly riposte to the Byrds' Roger McGuinn: "Gonna see a movie called Gunga Din/Pack up your money, and pull up your tent, McGuinn." The definitive Basement Tapes version is mysterious, doomy, yet somehow still festive. In an outtake, he sings it as a stoned lullaby, apparently addressed to his housemates: "Look here, dear soup, you'd best feed the cats/ The cats need feeding and you're the one to do it." He left the cats out of later versions, but kept the song's playful spirit.

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