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Best Ever Lists Features

The 70 Greatest Dylan Songs

To celebrate Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday on May 24, we asked the world’s foremost
Dylan experts to pick his best songs. Plus: Appreciations by Bono, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jim James, Lucinda Williams, Lenny Kravitz, Chris Martin and many more

Rolling Stone May 31, 2011
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The Greatest Dylan Covers of All Time

Jimi Hendrix
All Along the Watchtower
Hendrix echoes the apocalypse of Dylan’s final verse with guitar riffs like gale-force winds. “It overwhelmed me,” Dylan said.

The Byrds
Mr. Tambourine Man
The first Dylan song to hit Number One on the pop charts, in June 1965 ”“ their incandescent jangle made Dylan’s word rush feel like a psychedelic experience.

Stevie Wonder
Blowin’ In The Wind
On his 1966 version, Wonder brought out the gospel in a folk song that was itself based on an anti-slavery spiritual.

Them
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
Sung by a 20-year-old Van Morrison, Them’s 1966 version turns the original’s cerebral kiss-off into a boozy howl.

Jim James and Calexico
Goin’ To Acapulco

The My Morning Jacket frontman’s high tenor takes this Basement Tapes gem to a distant place even Dylan and the Band couldn’t reach.

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
Positively 4th Street

Dylan’s ultimate fuck-you gets sung with gentle California equanimity on this 1973 recording. Garcia shoots his solos straight at the heart, killing with kindness.

Emmylou Harris
Every Grain of Sand

Harris delivered Dylan’s ballad of spiritual struggle in her sublimely weathered voice; produced by Daniel Lanois, it hangs perfectly between heaven and earth.

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George Harrison
If Not For You

This gorgeous rendition of a handsomely simple love song appears on 1970’s All Things Must Pass, lit up with harmonica and Harrison’s silvery slide-guitar licks.

Roger McGuinn
Up to Me

In 1976, McGuinn took a shot at this storied Blood on the Tracks outtake about manning up and doing what needs to be done. McGuinn made it his own, changing the word “harmonica” to “Rickenbacker.”

PJ Harvey
Highway 61 Revisited
Polly Jean Harvey brings forth a speaker-blowing Frankenstein of Delta blues, heavy-metal power chords and hyperventilating vocals, all animated by a slithering Captain Beefheart groove.

The Panel

The editors of Rolling Stone polled this group of Dylan experts, writers and artists to create this list

Douglas Brinkley
Historian

David Fricke
RS Senior Writer

Mikal Gilmore
RS Contributing Editor

James Henke
VP, Curatorial Affairs, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Clinton Heylin
Dylan Biographer

Jim James
My Morning Jacket

Jon Landau
ArtistManager

Jonathan Lethem
Novelist

Greil Marcus
Author, ”˜The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes’

Roger McGuinn
The Byrds

Christopher Ricks
Author, ”˜Dylan’s Visions of Sin’

Jeff Tweedy
Wilco

Sean Wilentz
Historian

Contributors

Anthony DeCurtis, Jon Dolan, Patrick Doyle, David Fricke, Andy Greene, Will Hermes, Alan Light, Austin Scaggs, Rob Sheffield, Simon Vozick-Levinson, Douglas Wolk

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