Outside Hibbing, Minnesota, 1998.
The seventieth birthday of Mr. Bob Dylan arrives on Tuesday. I'm not sure I have a great deal to add to what I wrote in The New Yorker back in 1999 — the essay appears in my book Listen to This — but I thought I'd offer a quirky, highly personal playlist of fifteen Dylan recordings I cannot live without, in versions that may or may not be commercially available. I wonder if the mysterious bard will ever agree to release the original Blood on the Tracks, which is his masterpiece.
1. Tangled Up in Blue
2. Simple Twist of Fate
3. You're a Big Girl Now
4. Idiot Wind [tracks 1-4 from Blood on the Tracks test pressing]
5. Freeze Out (aka Visions of Johanna, rec. November 1965 w/ The Hawks)
6. Baby Let Me Follow You Down (live in Manchester, 1966)
7. Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
8. Million Dollar Bash (take 1 from the Basement Tapes)
9. Sign on the Cross
10. Abandoned Love (live at the Bitter End, 1975)
11. The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar (live at the Fox Warfield, 1980, w/ Michael Bloomfield)
12. Blind Willie McTell
13. Not Dark Yet
14. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (live at the El Rey Theatre, 1997)
15. Ain't Talkin'