|Cover of Highway 61 Revisited|
Bob Dylan has always been considered as a great writer, some have "raised" him to the status of a poet, and his lyrics are literally scrutinized.
Even though I think we shouldn't separate his words from his music and take his songs as a whole, nobody can deny that some of his lines stand on their own.
Let's get a look at the best Bob Dylan Lyrics and select those that are truly outstanding:
- "Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son" / Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on" / God say, "No." Abe say, "What?" / God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but / the next time you see me comin' you better run"", from "Highway 61 Revisited". This is a classic form of lyric used by B. Dylan during the first period of his work of art. It's highly influenced by the talking blues form that he takes here a step further with this very rhythmic dialogue.
- "He not busy being born is busy dying" from "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)". One of the greatest Dylan one liners, the reality of its content acts like ice water in your veins as this verse is sharp as a double edged knife, with no handle: there is no doubt that the singer-songwriter who is constantly reinventing himself follows this guideline.
- "I wish that for just one time / You could stand inside my shoes / You'd know what a drag it is / To see you" from "Positively 4th Street". A perfect example of Mr. Dylan's sarcastic side. The construction of the sentence makes the reader start to feel empathy for the narrator and the burden of being in his shoes before the punch line comes stripping the latter of his victim's clothes.
- "If you ever go to Austin / Fort Worth or San Antone / Find the Barrooms I got lost in / And send my memories home." From "If You Ever Go To Houston". You can see with this one how important the form of a verse can be. This line could make it to the top only for having "lost in" to rhyme with "Austin". Just add to this the content's power that clearly depicts the desperation and nostalgia of a world that no longer exists.
- "I'm going to raise me an army / Some tough sons of bitches / I'll recruit my army / From the orphanages" from "Thunder On the Mountain". Another great rhyme: "bitches" /" orphanages" even though it is a false one. This proves that Bob Dylan doesn't use random rhymes and that the sense can be underlined with style so that the reader doesn't miss the thunder pounding on the Mountain.
While it is true that a lot of great songs have very simple lyrics, Bob Dylan is an artist that makes it obvious that good lyrics clearly add value to a song.
If you like Bob Dylan and want to expand your horizon than you might also check out Frans Schuman. His first two albums are made of guitar and harmonica only tracks with interesting lyrics that I think you might like. Click here to download a copy of his latest single for free.
Cheers, Johnny Clark.
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