Bob Dylan’s Themes

For the most part this site contains reviews of Bob Dylan’s songs, but we also publish a range of articles, and these are listed below.

This series relates to themes within Dylan’s work

This page records the articles on Bob’s themes.  There is also an index which lists articles according to the writers that Dylan references in his work.   That index: Poets and Themes with Bob Dylan’s work can be find via this link.


Bob Dylan and Hank Snow

John Wesley Harding and the Drifters Escape

Bob Dylan and Alchemy


Bob Dylan and Canada


Recent articles

Articles related to Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.

Updated reviews with new videos added: Rainy Day added

Seven Curses: Those amazing re-interpretations

If you have never heard the versions by Solas and June Tabor I would urge you to read the “overwhelming punishment” article published today and play those two versions (if not all of the examples) as you read.


Full index to the “Dylan at the Movies” series

Thunder on the Mountain revisited

Scarlet Town: the sources and the destinations

Man of Peace Revisited


  • Hero Blues – the song that Bob wanted to used instead of One too Many – with Dylan recording
  • One too many mornings: the start of the journey to Tangled up in Blue, with new selection of live recordings illustrating the range of re-writes the song has gone through.
  • Walking down the line: another song of moving on.


Bob Dylan constantly references other authors and the Bible in his works, and we’ve dealt with this in a wide range of articles.  These are pulled together in a series of indexes, and those indexes are each listed below…

BOB DYLAN and CANADA – the expanded index


There is an index of this subject in Bob Dylan’s Themes  and in Poets and themes within Bob Dylan’s work).

DYLAN AND BAUDELAIRE – Handy Dandy just published


DYLAN: THE LIGHTER SIDE:  (For more info on this aspect of the site please click here)

BOB DYLAN AND RELIGION – see also Bob Dylan’s Themes and  Poets within Dylan’s work


We have several indexes of sources of Dylan’s inspiration – the index of sources from the Bible that Dylan uses has just been updated.


The full index is here.  The last addition was Going to Acapulco


The following articles have recently appeared and will be indexed shortly with their links.

Bob Dylan And Gnosticism (Part II): Johnannine Visions

Bob Dylan and Allegory (Part II)

Bob Dylan and The Allegory

The Ballad of Frankie and Bobby: Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra.

Bob Dylan And The Heart Of Darkness

Bob Dylan And Lucien Ducasse: Maldoror

Is Bob Dylan Good Or Bad?

F. Scott Fitzgerald And Bob Dylan: The Great Gatsby

Source Of Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts Part I

Source Of Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts Part II

Is It Luck Or Is It God? Bob Dylan’s trials and tribulations of human existence

Bob Dylan: Fire And Desire: Love And Sex

Dylan’s Tell Ol’ Bill: Roots In Blues Ballads, Rhymes From The Romantic Poets

Listen To The Dylanesque Whistle Blowing

When the deal goes down by Bob Dylan. A religious tract or rumination on death?

Dylan’s “Tempest”; the Beggar’s Banquet; the Threepenny Opera and “The Tempest”

Bob Dylan’s Got A Lot Of Gall

Bob Dylan’s Got A Lot Of Gall: The Four Humours (Part II)

Bob Dylan And Literary Allusions

Bob Dylan And Literary Allusions – part 2

Dylan: Things Have Changed Or Have They?

Bob Dylan’s Other Speech

The Never-Ending Art Of Becoming: Bob Dylan And Paul Verlaine

Bob Dylan And Arthur Rimbaud

Bob Dylan and Rebellion of the Devil

Bob Dylan: Water As A Symbol For Power

The Pain in the Window

Air/Wind Symbolism in the song lyrics of Bob Dylan

Mother Earth And Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan Confronts Gothicism In The Ruins Of Your Balcony

Bob Dylan And Gnosticism

The Great White Wonder: Bob Dylan And Robert Graves

It’s Not Dark Yet: Bob Dylan And Existentialism

Bob Dylan: The Property Of Jesus

Eden Is Where You Find It: Frederich Nietzsche, William Blake, And Bob Dylan

Bob The Ripper: Is Your Name Mary?

The Bobby Horror Picture Show

The Line Forms On The Right: Bobby’s Back In Town. Dylan & the Threepenny Opera (part 1)

The Tale Of The Wicked Messenger And The Faithful Servant

Owed To Bobby Allen: A Joan Baez Revelation

“Dylan, the Genius Who Came in From the Cold” . Blonde on Blonde, cold metal, thin gold and Mercury

Deadwood And Deadman: Bob Dylan And Post-Modernism

Time out of Mind: Bob Dylan Paints his Masterpiece

It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry: Figurative Language in Blood On The Tracks

Shakespeare’s In The Well With His Pointed Claws And His Bell

Bob Dylan alias the outlaw

The Libel Case Of “Bob Dylan vs Bobbie Gentry” Settles Out Of Court

The Ballad Of Frankly And Joni  (this was previously linked to the wrong article – now corrected.)

Macavity Was There: The Untold Dylan Tapes

You Can Be My Dream If I Can Be In Yours: Bob Dylan Meets Dr. Freud

The Ghosts Of Electricity: Bob Dylan And Symbolism

Time Passes Quickly: Bob Dylan and his eternal fight against time

The Arrows They Are A-Flyin’: Bob Dylan Disguised As Robin Hood

My Ruth’s In The Highlands A-Chaffing The Corn: Dylan’s Idealization of Women.

Bob Dylan Under The Big Top: The Clown Of Thorns

Bob Dylan’s Julius and Ethel: the accuracy of the story is not the point.

Bob Dylan’s Broken Hearts Club: a review of Blood on the Tracks

Untold Dylan: “I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours”


Reviews of every song Bob Dylan has written

That’s reviews of 534 Dylan compositions of which we can find recordings

plus over 300 other articles about Bob Dylan.

This site has had over 950,000 page views in the past year.


The songs reviewed here have two things in common: we can find a recording of the song, and it appears either the lyrics or music or both were written by Bob Dylan.  If you know of any other song Dylan has composed of which there is a recording available somewhere, and can point us towards that, we’ll get onto it.  Just email

The alphabetical list of all the songs reviewed on this site can be found here. It also lists some of the songs Dylan has recorded but which he did not write which we have not reviewed.   We’ve also put the songs in the order of composition – see the link to “Dylan songs of the 60s” etc in the links under the picture above.

Bob Dylan and Hank Snow

Bob and the political world

John Wesley Harding and the Drifters Escape

Jochen’s analysis of the song John Wesley Harding (to which I have appended the phrase “the argument against” for reasons which I hope will become clear) also introduces Thea Gilmore’s reinterpretation of Drifter’s Escape, which I have endlessly proposed as one of Dylan’s most important and least grasped songs.  So Jochen’s new analysis gives me a chance to push forward the “Drifter” thesis yet again.


We’ve been claiming to have reviewed every Dylan composition, but we have missed some.  Here they are.

Bob Dylan and Alchemy


BOB DYLAN’S THEMES & SOURCES – latest additions

Simple Twist of Fate: eternally different, eternally moving

Earlier commentaries…


Latest article: Bob Dylan and the Symbols of Alchemy.  But is he a Gnostic?

Earlier articles in the series(in order of publication)

Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands 


And some other articles we’ve published…

Dylan and the Wilburys

Dylan was never a writer and singer of protest songs

Dylan’s sense of place

Bob Dylan’s ten greatest opening lines

Dylan as Celebrity

Dylan’s Lyrics about Women – have they evolved?

Reading Dylan as Poetry – It’s not dark yet

Changing of the Guards and the Tarot

How Bob Dylan writes songs: Part 1 – The types of song

How Bob Dylan writes songs: Part 2 – The origins of Dylan’s approach and style

How Dylan writes songs part 3: “”I didn’t think I was doing anything different.”


We now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase in, on your Facebook page or go to 

All the songs reviewed on this site

The songs in chronological order

Dylan’s opening lines: an index