Home Music Music Lists

Readers’ Poll: The 10 Worst Bob Dylan Songs

Picks include ‘Joey,’ ‘If Dogs Run Free’ and ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’

Bob Dylan

Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Last week, we asked our readers to vote for their least favorite Bob Dylan song, and many of you were furious we'd dare to even ask such a question. In fact, "none" got twice as many votes as any actual song in Dylan's vast catalog. This reaction wasn't shocking. Dylan has a fiercely devoted cult that cherishes every song he's ever released. They feel that there are no bad ones, merely songs that are less rewarding than others. Also, the lesser songs are often fascinating. Hearing one of the greatest songwriters of all time reach for something and not quite grab it can be refreshing.

Keep in mind that Dylan himself talked down much of his Eighties work in his 2004 memoir Chronicles: Volume One. "I can play those songs, but I probably can't listen to those records," Dylan told Rolling Stone in 2004. "I was just being swept along with the current when I was making those records. I don't think my talent was under control." Click through to see your 10 least favorite Dylan songs. (Not all of these songs are on YouTube by Dylan, so we used a few cover versions.)

By Andy Greene

Play video

4. ‘Man Gave Name to All the Animals’

Along with "Under the Red Sky" and "Forever Young," Bob Dylan's 1979 song "Man Gave Name to All the Animals" is one of his few works that would work perfectly fine as a children's book. The work appears on Slow Train Coming, his first Christian LP, and it's basically a new chapter in Genesis that explains how man named bears, cows, bulls and other animals. It's not very profound, but it's clever at times and went over pretty well live. Still, it's a pretty simplistic song, and it's easy to understand why it has its detractors. 

Play video

3. ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’

"Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" is a very polarizing song. It was a huge radio hit in 1966, but today many fans feel it's the only weak moment on the otherwise flawless Blonde on Blonde. As is quite obvious from the track, the recording session was very fast and loose. Few of the musicians realized they were creating a final take. The song's refrain ("everybody must get stoned") seems to suggest it's a basic drug song, and 12 times 35 does equal 420. Furthermore, Dylan and many of the musicians were likely stoned when they recorded it. But the stoning he's referring to is likely the biblical sort. That paints the song in a much darker light, though as with most of his work, Dylan has never fully explained the meaning behind the lyrics. 

Play video

2. ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’

If you don't like Bob Dylan's 1979 gospel hit "Gotta Serve Somebody," you are not alone. John Lennon wasn't a fan, either. "All I ever think of is 'Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters,'" Lennon said shortly before his death. "It's the same man, but it isn't the same man." The song incensed Lennon to the point that he wrote a scathing response song called "Serve Yourself" that he recorded in June 1980.

The public largely liked it, though, and it peaked at Number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also contains the immortal line, "You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy/You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy." It's a take-off of a long-forgotten bit from the comic characeter Ray J. Johnson that was later used in a beer commercial. 

Play video

1. ‘Wiggle Wiggle’

Dylan came back from a long creative drought with 1989's Oh Mercy, but the very next year, he again disappointed fans with Under the Red Sky. Despite the presence of producer Don Was and guest musicians Elton John, Slash, David Crosby, Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Harrison and Bruce Hornsby, the album has just too many weak songs, even though the title track and "Born in Time" are stellar.

The album gets off to a bad start with "Wiggle Wiggle." The song uses the word "wiggle" 55 times. Things that wiggle in this song include a gypsy queen, a bowl of soup and a ton of lead. It gets ominous at the very end when a "big fat snake" wiggles, but any sort of sinister message is lost in the endless repetition and general silliness. 

Show Comments