Bob Dylan turns 70 today (happy birthday, big guy!): A list of our favorite Bob Dylan albums

Categories: Lists

As you're probably already aware, Bob Dylan turns seventy today. We want to take this moment to thank Mrs. Zimmerman for giving birth to one of the most influential musicians of our time. We're hard-pressed to find a musician that is more versatile or as cool as Dylan. He has been called the voice of a generation and a risk taker, but we are a simpler people here -- we just dig his sweet, sweet jams.

This seventy-year-old fella has gladdened our hearts and ears with five decades worth of amazing music. It's difficult to really narrow down a list of his best albums, because honestly, your favorite album depends on what music of his you like the best. But below are the classics we love that give a true taste of his complete and utter awesomeness. Happy birthday, man.

"I Want You" (live) originally appeared on Dylan & The Dead
(February 6, 1989)

5. Dylan & the Dead
Released in 1989, this collaborative awesomeness pairs Bob Dylan with the Grateful Dead. Although we feel seven songs doesn't come close to giving us the climax we so desperately crave, it still gave us amazing stuff like "Joey" and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." All of the songs were written and sung by Dylan, while the Dead rocked out in the back. We aren't going to lie, it's not a favorite among some fans, but we appreciate when musicians take chances, and in a decade where George Michael and The Go-Go's were topping charts, we think this was a nice reprieve from all that pop bullshit.

"Song to Woody" from Bob Dylan
(Columbia, March 19, 1962)

4. Bob Dylan
Dylan's 1962 debut album didn't receive critical acclaim, but we love and appreciate the raw, young edge this album has. It's clear upon the first listen that Dylan was completely immersed in the folk scene, but it doesn't have that cheesy flower-in-your-hair feel. Dylan's "Song to Woody" (about Woody Guthrie) is simple; one man and a guitar is sometimes just what we need in a modern world of synthesizers, million dollar dancers and light shows.

"Just Like a Woman" from Blonde On Blonde
(Columbia, May 16, 1966)

3. Blonde on Blonde
"Blonde on Blonde" was Dylan's seventh studio album. Released in 1966, it holds such musical gems as "Just Like a Woman," "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box-Hat" and "I Want You." Recorded in Nashville, the album is definitely harmonica-heavy, and we like it that way. We admire this album because it's rumored to be one of his most difficult ones to record. Plagued by writers block and turmoil with various band members that contributed to the album, the listen definitely reflects a struggle, but still gives us that classic Bob Dylan sound we love.

"Million Dollar Bash" from The Basment Tapes
(Columbia, June 26, 1975)

2. The Basement Tapes
Although this album was released in 1975, it was recorded in and around Woodstock, New York in 1967. A lot of the songs were released on bootleg albums over this time period, but this was the first release of all of them in one collection. We can't get enough of this album because the sixteen songs have a different feeling than the folksy music Dylan had been releasing. He was taking chances and spinning things -- the album gives us a live look into the collaborations and inner workings of Dylan (backed by the band The Hawks). Just take a look at the cover of the album; its eclectic mix of people gives you a sense of what you will feel like after hearing it, and if after listening you don't crave a Mrs. Henry t-shirt, you should probably just stop listening to music all together.

"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" from The Freewheeling Bob Dylan
(Columbia, May 27, 1963)

1. The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
We aren't only in love with this kick ass album cover (featuring he and his then girlfriend Suze Rotolo), but also with every single song on this 1963 release. Songs like: "Blowin in the Wind," "Down the Highway," "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" are just a few of the treasures you will find on this record. It's full of politically charged messages and the juxtaposition found in Dylan's mixture of disappointment and hope provides his listeners with nothing but glee. It's a record chalked full of emotion and it truly takes us through the political and emotional climate of not only Dylan, but America. We suggest this for first time listeners. It you hate it? You hate music. Seriously.

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before i read this i read a birthday tribute to Bob in the German news weekly Der Spiegel-also penned by a woman...and also clueless... when women write about Bob or soccer, just don't bother...but even the blind chick finds a corn sometimes, "the basement tapes" is the one album that belongs in that list ( so would "bringing it all back home", Blood on the tracks" "slow train", "oh mercy" and of course 'the bootleg series")happy bday bob!!!


This is truly pathetic. It shouldn't even waste internet space.


I got a little fired up about those omissions - you're right everyone is entitle to their opinions and I'm sure Stephanie is knowlegdable.  But it's like listing the top 3 Beastie Boy records and omitting Paul's Boutique!  OK I'm still fired up!


After seeing this top 5, I raced to the comments to add Desire and Blood on the Tracks but both were already commented.  Restores my faith in humanity but makes me wonder even more where Westword finds their music writers!

Nick Lucchesi
Nick Lucchesi

No Blood on the Tracks? REALLY STEPHANIE? REALLY?

Nick Lucchesi
Nick Lucchesi

We're just giving Stephanie a hard time. Opinions are opinions.

Jef Otte
Jef Otte

Dylan and the Dead but no "Desire?" It's like this list was compiled by somebody who likes music that is bad and doesn't like music that is good.

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