Dylan songs of the 1970s

Dylan in Chronological Order of writing (not in the order of record releases)

On this site there are reviews of Dylan’s compositions from all parts of his life, up to the most recent writings, but of late I have been trying to put these into chronological order, and fill in the gaps as I work.   Originally there was one file, but this got so large I am now breaking it down into decades.

The 70s

New series: What were Dylan’s songs of the 1970s actually about?

We’ve recently undertaken a complete review of every song Dylan wrote in the 1960s and considered what it is about.  Now we’re currently starting to take a look at the 1970s.


Dylan in 1970: a stuttering return to song writing.

  1. Time passes slowly (Just relax, there’s nothing to do; environment, lost love)
  2. Father of night (a Jewish prayer)
  3. Went to see the gypsy (a visit)
  4. All the tired horses (I’m tired; environment)
  5. If not for you (Love)
  6. Sign on the window (Thinking about the past; environment)
  7. Working on a Guru (Blues, I need philosophical help when things are bad?????)
  8. Ballad of Easy Rider.  [This song was originally placed in 1970 but following some more research has now been moved back to 1969]
  9. One more weekend (Love; being away – environment)
  10. New Morning (Love; exploring opportunities, environment)
  11. Three Angels (Christmas decorations; environment? The Book of Revelations?)
  12. If dogs run free (Just be yourself)
  13. The Man in Me (Rural life; environment)
  14. Winterlude (Love; environment)
  15. Day of the locusts (Getting his degree; environment)


Dylan in 71: Taking more time out but producing two magnificent songs

  1. Vomit Express 
  2. When I paint my masterpiece
  3. Watching the river flow
  4. George Jackson (protest)
  5. Wallflower
  6.  For you baby


Dylan in 1972. Still not writing much, but what he wrote gave a hint of what might come next…

  1. Forever Young – Tony’s review (Love and hope for a child)
  2. Forever Young – Dearbhla’s thoughts
  3. Billy 1, 4, and 7 and the Main title theme – Billy the Kid


Bob Dylan in 1973: moving into the second round of unadulterated genius

  1. Goodbye Holly
  2. Wagon Wheel (Rock me mama)
  3. Sweet Amerillo (Exact date not certain)
  4. Knocking on heaven’s door
  5. Never say goodbye
  6. Nobody cept you
  7. Going going gone
  8. Hazel
  9. Something there is about you
  10. You Angel You (Love)
  11. On a night like this
  12. Tough Mama
  13. Dirge (This wheel’s on fire reworked)  (Disdain)
  14. Wedding Song (Rejection of labelling, setting oneself free)


Bob Dylan in 1974: the genius returns, and how!

Highlight of the year: Tangled up in Blue.  For anyone else it would be the highlight of a total career, carved on the gravestone and mentioned in every article.  Idiot Wind comes a very very close second.

  1. Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
  2. Tangled up in blue   (See also Tangled Up in Blue:  “Real Live” version)
  3. You’re a big girl now
  4. Shelter from the storm
  5. If you see her say hello
  6. Call Letter Blues
  7. Simple Twist of Fate  (See also “Simple twist of fate: ambiguous, on the move, ever changing“)
  8. Idiot Wind
  9. You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go
  10. Up to Me
  11. Buckets of Rain
  12. Meet me in the Morning


Bob Dylan in 1975: working with Jacques Levy

Highlight of the year: “Abandoned Love”.  Everything about this song shouts out “genius” and leaves one wondering why Dylan needed a collaborator.  Both versions that we have are so worth playing again, and again, and again.  “Patty’s gone” could be just as great, if only we could make it out.

  1. Money Blues
  2. One More Cup of Coffee
  3. Golden Loom
  4. Oh Sister
  5. Abandoned Love
  6. Isis
  7. Joey (social protest)
  8. Rita May
  9. Hurricane
  10. Black Diamond Bay
  11. Catfish
  12. Mozambique
  13. Romance in Durango
  14. Sara
  15. Sign Language
  16. Patty’s gone to Laredo
  17. What will you do when Jesus Comes?


Bob Dylan in 1976: a year of pause and reflection


Bob Dylan in 1977: the preparation work for “Not Dark Yet”

Note: although these songs were recorded and performed live in 1977 for the first time there is a suggestion that a version of Changing of the Guards existed in 1976 – although the song did undergo considerable modification subsequently.  Please do note that in all cases the year given to each song is based on such evidence as I can find – there is no claim these dates are utterly definitive.

Highlight of the year: “Where are you tonight?”  An extraordinary poem which opens with the most evocative of lines: “There’s a long-distance train rolling through the rain  Tears on the letter I write”    And if lines such as

He took dead-center aim but he missed just the same
She was waiting, putting flowers on the shelf
She could feel my despair as I climbed up her hair
And discovered her invisible self

don’t make you shiver, well, I don’t know what will.

  1. Changing of the Guards
  2. Is your love in vain?
  3. Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)
  4. No Time to Think
  5. True Love Tends to Forget
  6. We better Talk this Over
  7. Where are you tonight?  (Journey through the Dark Heat)


Bob Dylan in 1978: Helena Springs and our fate is our own fault

Highlights of the Year: Both “I must love you too much” and “Slow Train” could easily be the highlights of the year, but in the end I opt for the former, because the meaning of the latter was so changed by what happened in 1979.

  1. “If I don’t be there by morning”. (With Helena Springs)
  2. Walk out in the Rain (with Helena Springs)
  3. Coming from the heart (the road is long). (with Helena Springs)
  4. New Pony
  5. Baby Stop Crying
  6. Stop Now (with Helena Springs Updated review with link to the track)
  7. The Wandering Kind (with Helena Springs updated review with link to the track)
  8. More than Flesh and Blood (with Helena Springs)
  9. I must love you too much (with Helena Springs)
  10. Tell me the truth one time (with Helena Springs)
  11. Stepchild
  12. You don’t love me no more
  13. This a-way that a-way.
  14. Take it or leave it
  15. Daddy’s gonna take one more ride
  16. Legionnaire’s disease
  17. Slow Train
  18. Do right to me baby (do unto others)


Bob Dylan in 1979: When He Returns

Highlight of the Year: the live version of When He Returns

  1. Gotta Serve Somebody
  2. I believe in You
  3. Ye Shall be Changed
  4. Trouble in mind
  5. Man gave names to all the animals
  6. No Man Righteous
  7. Gonna change my Way of Thinking
  8. Precious Angel
  9. When you gonna wake up
  10. When He Returns
  11. Saving Grace
  12. Blessed is the Name
  13. Covenant Woman
  14. In the Garden
  15. Pressing On
  16. Saved
  17. Solid Rock
  18. What can I do for you?
  19. See by faith (also known as stand by faith)

Index of all the songs on the site

Dylan’s opening lines: an index

How Dylan writes songs, and other articles.