#AtoZ Dylan – “L” is for Lay Lady Lay


“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” ~ Bob Dylan

Dylan young

Sometimes written with the commas (“Lay, Lady, Lay”) and sometimes without, “Lay Lady Lay” was released in 1969, on Dylan’s Nashville Skyline album. It was written for the movie Midnight Cowboy, but ended up not being included in the soundtrack.

Click HERE for a link to the lyrics.

Here is Jedd Hughes singing “Lay, Lady, Lay” at the Loveless Cafe:

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#AtoZ Dylan – “K” is for Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door


“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” ~ Bob Dylan

Dylan young

“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” was written for the soundtrack of the 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. 

Click HERE for a link to the lyrics.

It’s been covered by Eric Clapton and Guns N’ Roses, and by Warren Zevon in 2003, when he was suffering from lung cancer (Zevon died shortly after the album release). Here is a version by Avril Lavigne from 11 years ago:

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#AtoZ Dylan – “J” is for Just Like a Woman


“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” ~ Bob Dylan

Dylan young

“Just Like a Woman” was included on Dylan’s album Blonde on Blonde (1966). Rolling Stone ranked it at #232 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. So, who was the song written about? <shrugs> Some speculate it was Edie Sedgwick and others say it was Joan Baez. It could be more than just one woman, and does it really matter?

Click HERE for a link to the lyrics.

“Just Like a Woman” has been covered by Stevie Nicks, Roberta Flack, even Nina Simone. Here is a version by the Old Crow Medicine Show, performed live at the Country Music Hall of Fame:

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#AtoZ Dylan – “I” is for I Shall be Released


“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” ~ Bob Dylan

Dylan young

 

Written in 1967, “I Shall be Released” shows a heavy gospel influence, and whether you interpret the lyrics literally (as a prisoner about to be released from prison) or metaphorical (one’s own redemption), this song ranks up with Dylan’s greatest.

Click HERE for a link to the lyrics.

“I Shall be Released” has been covered widely, by Joe Cocker, Ricky Nelson, Aaron Neville, among many others. For me, Bette Midler’s version on her album The Divine Miss M is goosebump-worthy.

For a visual, I’m going with Chrissie Hynde:

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#AtoZ Dylan – “H” is for Hurricane


“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” ~ Bob Dylan

Dylan young

 

“Hurricane” was written by Dylan with Jacques Levy, and is about the imprisonment of fighter Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, an American-Canadian middleweight boxer, wrongfully convicted of murder and released from prison after spending nearly 20 years incarcerated. The song was released on Dylan’s album Desire in January 1976.

Click HERE for a link to the lyrics.

“Hurricane” has been covered by Ani DiFranco, Middle Class Rut, and The Milltown Brothers, among others. Here is a version by New Rising Sun:

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#AtoZ Dylan – “G” is for Gotta Serve Somebody


“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” ~ Bob Dylan

Dylan young

“Gotta Serve Somebody” appeared on Dylan’s 1979 album Slow Train Coming. It won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male in 1979At the time he wrote the song, Dylan was a born-again Christian. John Lennon actually wrote the song “Serve Yourself” in response (“You gotta serve yourself, ain’t nobody gonna do it for you”)

Click HERE for a link to the lyrics.

Covered by such diverse artists as Devo, Natalie Cole, and Willie Nelson, here is a great version by the fabulous Mavis Staples with Johnny Lang, performed in 2011 in Washington, DC:

#AtoZ Dylan – “F” is for Forever Young


“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” ~ Bob Dylan

Dylan young

“Forever Young” first appeared on Bob Dylan’s 1974 album Planet Waves in two versions, one fast and one slow. The slow version is the one most often covered.

According to notes Dylan wrote to include with his album Biograph (where a demo version of “Forever Young” was included), he wrote the song for his son Jesse. Click HERE for a link to the lyrics.

If you’re thinking about the Rod Stewart version, know that Stewart wrote a song called “Forever Young” that sounded remarkably similar to Dylan’s. Stewart consulted with Dylan and the two men agreed to share royalties. Artists who have covered Dylan’s song include Joan Baez, Diana Ross, and Johnny Cash. Here is a lovely version by The Tenors:

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