I’ve always maintained that Tangled Up in Blue or Brownsville Girl is Dylan’s greatest song. Well, I’ve been wrong, and I’ve known it all the time — I’ve just not been able to shake off the social pressure that his best song just had to be either something from Blood on the Tracks, wildly exploiting the Dylanesque shifts of perspective, storylines, and pronouns, or the greatest epic since Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.

But of course: it has to be a seemingly simple song, loaded with one-liners, a song which floats on a light, humorous mood all the way to the end, where everything is suddenly turned upside down — not in any way discarding what has been said before, on the contrary: confirming it and drawing the humour and lightness into the serious perspective where it (also!) belongs.

Talkin’ World War III Blues it is. “The boy’s obviously insane.” “Hey man, you crazy or sumpin’, You see what happened last time they started.” The hilarious “[all|some|half] the [people|time]” lines, credited to Abe Lincoln, Carl Sandburg, and, in England, T. S. Eliot.

And then, the best two lines in Dylan’s oeuve:

I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours.
I said that.

Cocky as only a 22-year-old can be. And, by the way, isn’t that just about all we all want?

5 thoughts on “Correction

  1. That’s a very good suggestion. When I first came across Talkin WW3 Blues, after I had figured out Youtube was a treasure trove of classic music. It simply blew me away how he delivered such a fantastic song with such self assuredness and Wit that made me laugh out loud. Quite Frankly its difficult to comprehend how at that tender age he saw the world through eyes normally associated with an old Blues singer who seen all this rotten World had to offer after 50/60 years of perfecting his musical skills! So good call on this as a candidate for his very best.

  2. I’lll TRY to pretend you said “Blood on The Tracks” is NOT one of the greatest albums IN HISTORY…much less Dylan’s greatest! I just learned how to play “Idiot Wind” without sounding whiny (I think), dammit!

  3. I’m not sure if I can reply with an accurate “best”, but i’m sure like every one of us, we have what we think is best and what our favorites are. Mine almost changes weekly, but there are 3 that maintain strength for me: “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)” is at the top, with its sheer exuberance and a glowing ecstasy that simply refuses to fade over time. My second, “Abandoned Love”, is so exhaustive in its atmosphere, that sometimes i can actually envision my Acadian ancestors on the shore of the Bayou Lafourche, dancin’ their little hearts out. And the third, which has just recently reached that spot, “Nobody ‘Cept You”, is so heartbreaking in its longing that at this point, it’s hard to listen to. The latter two recall some lonely fairground from my youth, though i know of neither song ever playing ANYwhere. So that’s what i would submit as the “best.”

  4. @Gwynhwyfar: I won’t try to pretend I can disentangle all the “not”s and whatnot, but for the record: as albums go, there is no contender, neither in Dylan’s production nor in the world: Blood on the Tracks it is, indeed. Cf. my intro to BOTT

  5. This might be somewhat controversial, and I want to preface it with wholeheartedly agreeing with Eyolf that ‘Blood on the Tracks’ is the finest album ever made, but my favourite Dylan track is ‘Sweetheart Like You’. I’d throw into the mix two songs that couldn’t be much more different. The first (although not a Dylan composition) ‘I was young when I left home’ and the second ‘Working Man’s Blues #2’. I’m not going to try and justify these three picks as there’s no point, and my own Dylan top 5, top 10, top 20 etc changes on a day to day basis. Thanks Eyolf for your incredible work. I’m a crap guitarist but without dylanchords I’d be even worse.

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