Category Archives: The Songs

Dylan’s “John Brown”: not just the song it is the staggering performance

by Tony Attwood It is not the song “John Brown” that works so perfectly within its own context – the story of the mother proudly telling everyone her son is fighting in the war and then coming back shot to … Continue reading

Posted in MTV Unplugged (Live), The Songs | 5 Comments

Foot of Pride: Bob Dylan’s rambling masterpiece which tears us limb from limb

By Tony Attwood The original review of Foot of Pride was written in 2009, one of the early reviews on this site.   I’ve come back to in 2017 largely because in between we’ve created a list of all the … Continue reading

Posted in Bootleg Series volume 3, The Songs | 33 Comments

Standing in the doorway: a work of solemn genius from Bob Dylan

Review by Tony Attwood.  Updated May 2018 with addition of this extraordinary live version of the song, and the opening verse at the end. “Time out of mind” starts just about as low as you can imagine – “Love Sick” … Continue reading

Posted in The Songs, Time out of mind | 5 Comments

“When the ship comes in.” Bob Dylan as a prophet of vengeance and a better life to come.

By Tony Attwood This review updated July 2018, with the addition of one of Dylan’s rare outings for the song, and two totally different renditions linked at the end. Amidst all the moral relativism of Dylan, all the references to … Continue reading

Posted in Bootleg Series volume 3, No Direction Home, The Songs, Times they are a changing | 7 Comments

Bob Dylan’s “Highlands”; its origins in Burns poetry, and a beautiful rare reworking in concert

By Tony Attwood This review updated 26 June 2018, with addition of this live version – I really would recommend a listen to these, particularly this one below Also now included are references back to the origins of the song … Continue reading

Posted in The Songs, Time out of mind | 5 Comments

Lay Lady Lay: Three Bob Dylan transformations of his song & a look at the meanings.

By Tony Attwood In returning to this song I didn’t really feel I wanted to change any of the original commentary, but I did want to add a couple of live recordings as they show the power of Dylan’s reinvention. … Continue reading

Posted in At Boudakan, Essential Bob Dylan, Greatest Hits Volume 2, Nashville Skyline, The Songs | 13 Comments

Bob Dylan’s Maggie’s Farm. 3 very different versions; but why play it so often?

By Tony Attwood (revised March 2013 and again June 2018) Between 1965 and 2009 Bob Dylan performed Maggie’s Farm 1051 times on stage – often as an opening song; an interesting outcome for a song that was a last minute … Continue reading

Posted in At Boudakan, Bringing it all Back Home, Essential Bob Dylan, Greatest Hits Volume 2, Hard Rain, No Direction Home, The Songs | 9 Comments

Don’t think twice by Bob Dylan. Looking back to 1962 and a beautiful live version

This article was updated in May 2018. This song is based on the folk song “Who’s gonna buy you ribbons” which has both music and some lyrics that closely resemble Bob’s song. This version recorded in 1960 was made by … Continue reading

Posted in Freewheelin, No Direction Home, The Songs | 5 Comments

Lenny Bruce is Dead: Dylan’s eulogy to the man who man fun of religion

by Tony Attwood This article updated 22 June 2018, with the addition of two superb live versions at the end and some additional thoughts. In his interviews Dylan says that he wrote the Lenny Bruce song in about five minutes.   … Continue reading

Posted in Shot of Love, The Songs | 8 Comments

Love Sick. Bob Dylan’s unexpected brilliant masterpiece of decline that surpasses all lost love songs before or since

Revised 14 May 2018. by Tony Attwood You want a masterpiece from the old boy – here it is. Unexpected, it seems to have come out of nowhere after seven years. The opening seconds present a growl of uncertainty, before … Continue reading

Posted in The Songs, Time out of mind | 5 Comments

Desolation Row by Bob Dylan. It doesn’t get more frightening than this.

By Tony Attwood with help from Pat Sludden. This review was one of the first ones I wrote in 2008 not long after conceiving of the idea of this web site, and while I was still trying to work out how … Continue reading

Posted in Highway 61 Revisited, The Songs | 19 Comments

Subterranean Homesick Blues: the meaning of the music and the lyrics

By Tony Attwood Revised 13 October 2017 This was Dylan’s first successful attempt to integrate the emotions of the Beat Generation which he had understood from Alan Ginsberg and others combining the thoughts of the moment with three minutes of … Continue reading

Posted in Bringing it all Back Home, Essential Bob Dylan, The Songs | 10 Comments

Love minus Zero / No Limit. Bob Dylan takes a Zen approach to the perfect relationship

 By Tony Attwood This review revised May 2017 The second of the two love songs from the first side of “Bringing it all back home” is infinitely more complex than “She Belongs To Me”. While musically it seems to be … Continue reading

Posted in Bringing it all Back Home, Essential Bob Dylan, The Songs | 11 Comments

Gates of Eden: two revised renditions & the meanings behind Bob Dylan’s masterpiece

At times I think there are no words but these to tell what’s true. If you have never heard this version above, do give it a listen – the differences between this version and the album version are subtle but … Continue reading

Posted in Bringing it all Back Home, The Songs | 3 Comments

Bob Dylan’s “Idiot Wind”: the meaning of the music and the lyrics

There can be few opening chord sequences as distinctive as Dylan’s minor-4th, 5th, Tonic sequence which opens “Idiot Wind”. And there can be few opening lines to a song as distinctive as “Someone’s got it in for me, they’re printing … Continue reading

Posted in Blood on the Tracks, Bootleg Series volume 3, The Songs | 5 Comments

Jokerman: the meaning of the lyrics and the music

Numerous reference books suggest that Jokerman is one of Dylan’s masterpieces. A great poetic adventure that encapsulates everyone and everything from Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats (1884) to… well, anything you like. All mixed with a mature and … Continue reading

Posted in Infidels, The Songs | 50 Comments

Don’t Take Everybody to be your Friend: part of Dylan’s inspiration

The Theme Time radio programmes resulted in at least one album: a double sided affair which includes “Don’t Take Everybody to be your friend” by Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Sam Price Trio. Recorded in 1947 when Dylan must have … Continue reading

Posted in The Songs, Theme Time Radio Hour | Leave a comment

Bob Dylan’s “Isis”: the meaning of the music and the song

By Tony Attwood Isis. A song so revered that the longest running Dylan magazine is named after the song. But why – what is it in Isis that is so powerful, so overwhelmingly important in terms of the Dylan genre? … Continue reading

Posted in Desire, The Songs | 8 Comments

Changing of the Guards: The meanings behind Bob Dylan’s song

By Tony Attwood The original review was written in 2008, and then updated in 2013.  Coming back to it in 2018, I found myself very unhappy with what I had written, and thus decided to start again. Changing of the … Continue reading

Posted in Essential Bob Dylan, Street Legal, The Songs | 35 Comments

Things have changed: the meanings behind Bob Dylan’s song

By Tony Attwood Dylan’s commentary on being dislocated from the world, while being within it – here but not here – spreads across a multiplicity of his songs. It wasn’t there at the start – Times they are a-changing dripped … Continue reading

Posted in Essential Bob Dylan, The Songs | 7 Comments