Bob Dylan’s Best Albums
Compiled by Madeline Cramer
“I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me,” said Dylan Thomas (the poet who inspired Robert Allen Zimmerman to legally change his last name at 19), and perhaps Bob Dylan’s poetry and music has achieved its legendary, timeless status by encompassing those three parts of the human experience so well.
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The Gospel according to Bob Dylan
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(Albums arranged in the order they were released… )
Highway 61 Revisited
On July 26, 1965 Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival (his third appearance at the venue) for which he was famously booed offstage after playing only three songs: “Maggie’s Farm,” “Like a Rolling Stone,”and a song titled “Phantom Engineer.” With his song “Like a Rolling Stone” (released as a single on July 20, 1965) he officially made a name for himself as not only a folk and popstar but a rock star. The song hit number two in the US Billboard Charts, was listed as number one in Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all times, and it appeared as the first track on his iconic album Highway 61 Revisited (named after the highway connecting Duluth, MN to famous southern musical hubs like New Orleans and Memphis). While still electric, this album had a distinctive blues sound—revealing his influence by artists such as Son House, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and other Mississippi Delta Blues icons. He also played with conventions of pop love songs by adding notes of cynicism and revenge where the listener would expect sentimentality.
Watch Bob Dylan performing “Like a Rolling Stone” live here: