LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - No reason to get excited, as Bob Dylan once sang, but the bard’s 1965 anthem “Like a Rolling Stone” has been declared his greatest song by none other than Rolling Stone magazine.
Its latest cover story, marking Dylan’s 70th birthday on May 24, lists his 70 greatest songs, as determined by an expert panel of writers, academics and musicians.
Additionally, celebrity rockers such as Bono, Mick Jagger and Lucinda Williams have weighed in with essays about various songs on the list.
“Like a Rolling Stone,” which Bono described as “a black eye of a pop song,” was followed in the rankings by “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Just Like a Woman” and “All Along the Watchtower.”
Jagger raves about the three-chord simplicity of the 11-minute “Desolation Row (No. 12), Williams zeroes in on the theme of jealousy over artistic success in “”Positively Fourth Street” (No. 16), and Keith Richards says “Girl from the North Country” (No. 30) was better in its original incarnation as a solo tune than as a later duet with Johnny Cash.
Even though Dylan has enjoyed a resurgence in the past 14 years, the highest-ranking song from the era came in at a modest No. 21 — “Mississippi,” a tune from 2001’s “Love and Theft.” Sheryl Crow, who recorded the song three years before Dylan did, said it introduces him “as somebody facing mortality with an upbeat attitude.”
A list published on Rolling Stone’s Web site lists 20 “overlooked classics,” a handful from Dylan’s difficult ‘80s period when albums such as the gospel release “Saved” and the synth-heavy “Empire Burlesque” left many fans scratching their heads.
Other lists identify the best covers of Dylan songs — inevitably including Jimi Hendrix’s overhaul of “All Along the Watchtower” — his most inscrutable songs, and his best bootleg recordings. A 30-question quiz will keep Dylan nerds entertained, briefly.
Editing by Jill Serjeant