3 Eternal Songs by Bob Dylan

If there is one American-born eternal musician from the 20th century, it’s got to be Bob Dylan. Sure, there are a lot of people in the running, but it’s got to be Dylan—particularly from his 1960s era—that ultimately rises to the top. But while people will be playing his music for centuries to come, dissecting his lyrics and discussing his transition from acoustic to electric, which songs of his are most eternal?

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That is exactly what we wanted to dive into here today—to look at Dylan’s extensive catalog and decide which three of his songs will have the longest life, the longest legs, and the longest time spent on the radio waves. So, let’s do just that.

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“Blowin’ in the Wind”

Released on Bob Dylan’s 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, his second studio LP, this song is about the impreciseness of life. There are no real answers, no perfect statements or ideas. It’s all numinous and fleeting, like a breeze through your fingertips. Dylan knew that and sang about it on this song, which has been studied and considered for decades since it hit the world. On the timeless song, Dylan sings,

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

“The Times They Are A-Changin'”

Released on the 1964 album of the same name, this song is similar to the one above. Indeed, sometimes to get an idea, you must write around it and not directly about it. And in this case, just as in the above track, Dylan is talking about how nothing is certain. A moment is here and then it’s gone. The age-old saying is that the only thing that stays the same is change. And that is the thesis behind this forever song from Dylan. On it, he sings,

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

“Like a Rolling Stone”

Sensing a theme? Again, this eternal offering from Dylan is about placelessness, about movement, about not staying in one place for too long. There is no certainty, no real stability. On this song, Dylan speaks of a person who thought they had it figured out only realize there was nothing to truly figure out. And now the rug has been pulled out from underneath them. Released on the 1965 album, Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan sings on the song,

Ahh you’ve gone to the finest schools, alright Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
Nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street
And now you’re gonna have to get used to it
You say you never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He’s not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And say do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
A complete unknown, like a rolling stone

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