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10 Great Bob Dylan Live Performances

Hobolad . . . Comments

Bob Dylan- poet, one of the best song-writers ever, amazing live performer. Bob has been well known to kick ass live. This list is pretty biased towards the few videos on YouTube with good sound quality. Normally, when thinking of Dylan, everyone thinks of “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin”, so I’ve decided to mix it up a bit and put in some classics you may not have heard.

10. Girl From The North Country Fair With Johnny Cash – 1969

Apolitical, simple and mainstream- a side not usually on display. But here it is in all it’s glory. Plus- Johnny Cash! They kinda stumble through the song- pretty much the same as on Nashville Skyline- but there’s something cool about it, it’s laid back, they’re two friends having a sing-song, and it rocks.

9. Shelter From The Storm 1976

The sound quality here isn’t as good as one might hope, but what with it being such a cool rendition of a classic tune I just had to include it. Dylan, as always, likes to mess around with his songs, never playing them the same way twice, and never was this more obvious than on tour in the mid-seventies.


8. Visions Of Johanna 1966

The studio version is often used as the perfect example of what Dylan called his “wild mercury sound” from the mid-sixties, specifically on Blonde on Blonde. Stripped of its bells and whistles however, the song still stands as one of the greats.

7. One More Cup Of Coffee 1975

Scarlett Riviera’s violin makes this video- the combination of the beauty of the violin and the roughness of Dylan’s rasp makes for something that can only be described as “hauntingly kick-ass”.


6. Ballad Of A Thin Man 1966

Bob sitting at the keys looking like a stoned fragile little bird- this is the “wild mercury sound” live.

5. Lay Lady Lay 1976

Originally a mellow country song, Lay Lady Lay has been rocked up 70’s style. This I guess you have to be a proper Dylan fan to like, the words get garbled and the vocals do have their low points- but having said that, there’s something magnetic about the performance and it’s somehow become one of my favourites.


4. Tangled Up In Blue 1975

Embedding disabled, but this version rocks so hard I just can’t deny you it.

See it on Youtube (opens in a new window).

Proof that eye-liner on men can be cool. He misses out the best verse though! “She opened up a book of poems, and handed it to me- written by an Italian poet from the 15th century! And every one of them words rang true and glowed like burning coal, pouring off of every page like it was written in my soul!”

Bob makes eyeliner and poetry cool in a single effort. Can Billie Joe Armstrong do that? (Arguments in the comments are always fun)

3. It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding 1965

Pure poetry and some killer guitaristry here. Simple guitaristry, but still a million times cooler than anything to come from Malmsteen! “If my thoughts and dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine- but it’s alright ma, it’s life and life only!”


2. Like A Rolling Stone 1966

“JUDAS!”

“I don’t believe you!”

I know I said there’d be none of the really well know ones, but how could I not include this? Sadly it lacks the snare kick of the studio version, but this is still one legendary performance.

1. Isis 1975

Dylan the frontman- “If you want me to… YES!”

I love it. Warning- takes a while to start, and is quite loud.

Contributor: Hobolad



  • Barabas

    can i find these song on the bootlegs?
    If yes on which?

  • Barabas: bootlegs? I don’t understand what you are asking :)

  • Barabas

    why?

  • James Frazer

    Sorry, but the greatest live performance was number 2, hands down.

    And I don’t care what anyone says, because I don’t believe you….

    …you a liar….

  • Hobolad

    Yay! No. 2 does rock, but the Isis one is my favourite. It’s the faces he makes, it’s the band, it’s the evil hand signs. It’s the awesome.

    Not sure which are on bootlegs but this is a good site to search for whichever ones you’re after in particular-

    http://www.bobsboots.com/CDs/index.html

  • Barabas

    Visions Of Johanna 1966
    bootleg 4
    One More Cup Of Coffee 1975
    bootleg 5
    Ballad Of A Thin Man 1966
    bootleg4
    Tangled Up In Blue 1975
    bootleg 5
    Isis 1975
    bootleg 5

    couldnt determine the rest.
    On which
    ALbum are number 2 and 3?

  • okay – now I understand comment 1 :)

  • Barabas

    update:
    It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding 1965
    bootleg 6
    Like A Rolling Stone 1966
    bootleg 6
    ( i know that the dates dont fit, but I think this it it)

  • 20Fan20

    Those bootleg albums are great. I never liked Bob Dylan beyond his standard hits until 1975 Rolling Thunder…
    Now I have all the bootlegs and a few other albums. Great artists!

  • Monkey

    OH MY GOD I THINK I JUST WET MY PANTS! THANK YOU HOBOLAD! (And yes, that was meant to be in all caps) :D

  • I have a huge amount of respect for Bob Dylan as a writer and I understand the huge following he has, but I can’t stand listening to him! I feel like the only person on Earth….

  • Adam

    I am right there with you Kelsi. I have heard some of his songs and he does interest me to an extent but I can only listen to him in small doses once in a while. I just don’t like how he sounds :P

  • Yeah…if you read the lyrics to his songs, they are beautiful poems, but I think they should have stayed that way. xD Okay, okay, I don’t want to bash. He just doesn’t appeal to me personally.

  • lando

    I had the privalage of seeing him live a year ago. He didn’t play guitar but instead played keyboard the whole night. It was one of the loudest shows I have ever been too. He may be old but he still kicks ass. Anybody get a chance to see that new movie “I’m not there”?

  • mklong

    Lando, if you are talking abot the tour he gave with willy nelson i too saw one of there shows. i noticed though when he was playing the keyboard he just seemed dispondent. it was loud, and it was an outside show. but for the life of me i couldent recognise any of the songs he was playing, he kinda sounded incorerant. it just sucks that hes past his prime, but it was awsome to see a legand.

  • Hobolad

    mklong: Yeah, he was like that when I went to one of his shows- just seemed like he couldn’t be bothered :(

    But he always seems to go through these phases before bouncing back as something new- maybe’s there’s still life in him yet?

    For you guys who like the writing but not the voice- wasn’t there gonna be an album of Dylan covers by other artists to coincide with the new Greatest Hits album? Maybe that could be worth having a look at :)

    Oh and thanks for the comments! Was afraid this’d just get completely ignored :D

  • steve

    Don’t Look Back has this part of the movie where Dylan is hanging out with Donovan and then proceeds to sing “It’s all over now, baby blue”…probably one of the best clips of him singing I’ve seen, here’s the youtube link

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN6gqot02Zk

  • Hobolad

    steve: I love that one! The other one with Donovan’s cool too- Love Minus Zero/No Limit (Poor Donovan just can’t measure up to Dylan- still cool though.)

  • eric n.

    dylan was a great singer songwriter, but a pretty generation-centric list. (hard for the under 50 crowd…)

  • xog

    i just turned 30. for the record, i love dylan. i’ve seen him live four times, would be more, but sometimes i haven’t had the money for tickets. once i was pregnant, so i didn’t go, too much pot smoking. the last time i saw him he played keyboards and it was probably the loudest show i’ve ever seen. it was in a tiny club and was amazing. hearing leopard skin pill box hat was a religious experience.

  • Pingback: 10 Great Bob Dylan Live Performances to Give You Shelter From the Storm | Music News Blog()

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  • jajingna

    #19. Doesn’t matter if you are young or old. I’m 39 and have liked him since I was a teenager.

    I’ve heard he has given some bad concerts too, maybe while high.

  • Copaface

    Dylan was a legend :)

  • Jamie3039

    Excellent idea for a list and well executed. Perhaps an early performance with Joan Baez should be included but the list is great anyhow. I love Dylan but my cousin once called jim arrogant because he sometimes played concerts with his back to the crowd; can anyone clarify this?

  • DCI

    Im suprised this list has so little comments after so much time on listverse, anyway I like a version he sings of hurricane on youtube its fantastic, favourite song of Bob has got to be Along the watchtower although I guess it will change as I hear more lol. :)

  • Bert

    I’m 26 and have been a devoted Dylan fan for years. I love the slightly more obscure stuff like Ballad of a Thin Man, It Ain’t Me, Babe, Isis, and my personal favourite: Masters of War. I wish he would have played it when I heard him live last year. In my mind there is no more powerful anti-war song than this.

  • seraphicradiance

    No. 14 has always been an underrated classic and has elevated Shelter from the Storm to one of my favourites. Good one!

  • XSatiram

    ??? ???-?? ???????? ? ???? ??? ????? ?? ?????? ?? ???????!

  • brubbish223

    ….great poet
    good song writer
    great!
    i like his music

  • m320753

    as i have been a dylan fan since his greenwich village days . seen a lot of concerts but his best show was at fort collins colorado which i didn't attend. looking at videos from that show it was truly his best effort. the opening song was hard rain gonna fall seeing him start singing as the curtain raising blew me away. it was 1975 or 76 and he was in his mid 30s the energy didn't flow from him it exploded. your picks are very wise

  • Matthew

    Several other great Dylan live performances (you'll have to search YouTube or other sites yourselves; I'm at work and they are blocked…this page has no link where I am, although I've seen all these clips dozens of times):

    * 1995 Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame: "All Along The Watchtower." A sizzling guitar jam with Dylan and JJ Jackson on lead, and Bucky Baxter on slide. Just stunning the way the band builds the melody to a crescendo, then walks it back down, then builds it up again. Staggering.

    * 1998 Tribute to Johnny Cash: "Train of Love." Even better if you can find a posting with Dylan's intro to JC.

    * 1983 David Letterman Show: "Don't Start Me Talkin' (I'll Tell Everything I Know")." A punked up rendition of an old blues number (by, I think buy may be wrong, Blind Lemon Jefferson). Wicked energy.

    * 1974 Tribute to John Hammond, Sr. "Hurricane" and "Simple Twist of Fate." Dylan singing is super, and it's as good a look at Scarlett Rivera with Bob as you're going to find.

    * 1980 Toronoto, Canada: "What Can I Do For You?". An achingly heartfelt performance of one of his gospel standards, with, IMHO, the most memorizing harmonica solo in music history. You can feel Dylan's passion in each note, and it tears at the soul. Just nothing like it.

    * 1995 MTV Unplugged: "John Brown." The best version I could find of Dylan doing this little-known anti-war ballad from his folk days. His signing is terrific, and the band (also with JJ Jackson) is in top notch form. Lot has been made of Dylan's 80s/90s lack of production, but his live stuff in the 90s was, arguably, his peak as a performing artist.

    Finally:

    * 1969/70 (not sure): in the studio with Johnny Cash: "One Too Many Mornings." From a 2-3 say session with the great Cash that one hopes is cleaned up some day and released. The bootlegs themselves are priceless (Dylan singing "Ring of Fire"? Believe it.), and this video of them hamming it up in the studio will someday be looked at in awe. It should have in 1970. A shame they didn't do a full album together of original stuff.

  • obc1331

    Im only 15 and Bob Dylan is my idol. Listening to songs like Visions of Johanna is no longer listening its ‘experiencing’ . I never disliked Dylans voice of his protest/folk days but his voice on Blonde on Blonde is majestic. Dylan was in his prime in ’66 kinda lost his voice in ’69 when he went country but still he’s the greatest artist to have EVER lived!

    • conor

      youre a deuche, his voice was good on nashville skyline, new morning, desire, slow train coming, planet waves, pat garett and billy the kid, street legal, blood on the tracks, shot of love, saved, oh mercy, infidels, empire burlesque etc, your a fake fan thats heard like 4 of his 60s albums n nothin else

      • Dan

        He’s entitled to his opinion, I think Bob sounds kind of Fake on Nashville Skylines too.

  • jaime

    He sucked live 2 years ago

  • conor

    you’re a big girl now 76 and the lonesome death of hattie caroll 1975

  • Dan

    Nothing from the Neverending Tour? All 1960’s and Rolling Thunder. I respectfully disagree.

    I will try to stick to officially released material

    Boots Of Spanish Leather – Officially released 1990’s version from one of the EP Collections. ( The second version, there are 2 versions that appeared on EPs in the 90s)

    Country Pie – officially released on one of the Bonoroo albums

    Grand Coulee Dam, I Aint Got No Home, Dear Mrs. Roosevelt – from the Woody Guthrie Memorial concert 1969 with the Band.

    It Takes a Lot To Laugh… – The Concert for Bangladesh

    Down in The Flood and When I Paint my Masterpiece from the re-issue of the Band’s Rock of Ages album, Bob also joins the band for teh best Live version of Like a Rolling Stone on that reissue. LARS was never really a great live number.

    Any Good Version of Tangled up In Blue or Don’t think Twice from the Never Ending Tour focus on 1997-2002

    And I will reccomend 1 Bootleg- 2 Nights in Dublin ( Vicar St. Dublin 9/13/00 & 9/14/2000) Which has both Tangled and Twice and The best live version of It’s Alright Ma Ever Recorded.

    • Dan

      Correction Country Pie appeared on a official Sony release for Japan that had to be purchased as an Import called something like “Bob Dylan live 1961 -2000” I can’t find my copy to confirm the name
      Down along the Cove appeared on one of the Bonoroo collections I think 2008

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  • Birdy

    this is a good list….