A Massive 55-Hour Chronological Playlist of Bob Dylan Songs: Stream 763 Tracks

Cropped image by Row­land Scher­man, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

Shake­speare may have come up with the sev­en ages of man (see: As You Like It for more info), but Bob Dylan has had more than sev­en ages in his five decades of mak­ing music. There’s the young Woody Guthrie fan, the protest singer, the poet of a gen­er­a­tion, the recluse, the Chris­t­ian con­vert, the man who made Greil Mar­cus ask “What is this shit?” about his 1970 Self-Por­trait album, the Mys­tic who chan­neled “old weird Amer­i­ca” as Mar­cus would also define it, the end­less tour­ing work­horse, the Trav­el­ing Wilbury, the pen­cil-mus­tache dap­per stan­dards inter­preter, and on and on.

You get the point, so this Spo­ti­fy col­lec­tion (gath­ered togeth­er by Samuel Hux­ley Cohen) sets out to take on this mon­u­men­tal career with a 55 hour playlist of Dylan’s music, 763 songs in total, in chrono­log­i­cal order, from 1962’s “You’re No Good” to “Melan­choly Mood” from 2016’s Fall­en Angels. (His cur­rent album from this year, the three-disc Trip­li­cate is not rep­re­sent­ed, though it’s sep­a­rate­ly on Spo­ti­fy here.)

Not only can one chart the artis­tic pro­gres­sion from earnest folkie to liv­ing enig­ma, one can chart the changes in Dylan’s voice over time, which has long been the sub­ject of crit­i­cism. His young voice was once com­pared to a “cow stuck in an elec­tric fence,” and now in his 70s, “ Dylan’s voice has been in ruins dur­ing many of his recent con­certs, some­where between Howl­in’ Wolf’s growl and a tuber­cu­lar wheeze,” as the Chica­go Tri­bune’s Greg Kot wrote recent­ly. But in between, there were soft­er moments. As a younger Dylan fan I was exposed at first only to his clas­sic 1960s tril­o­gy—Bring­ing It All Back Home through Blonde on Blonde—and his nasal, accusato­ry tone, only to be befud­dled by the voice on Nashville Sky­line. It didn’t even sound like the same per­son.

Yes, there are bones to pick with this playlist, most­ly in its strict adher­ence to release date chronol­o­gy and not so much record­ing chronol­o­gy, which would make more sense (but would be way more time con­sum­ing). The Base­ment Tapes make more fas­ci­nat­ing lis­ten­ing com­ing as they real­ly did after Blonde on Blonde in 1967, after Dylan’s motor­cy­cle acci­dent and before John Wes­ley Hard­ing, the album high­ly informed by those ses­sions. Not so much placed here right after the astound­ing but inti­mate and bleak Blood on the Tracks. And a lot of the live and rare record­ings found on the ever increas­ing Boot­leg Series are just a jum­ble.

But put it this way, the man him­self could care less in what order you lis­ten to them, or if at all. A real­ly thor­ough chronol­o­gy might reveal the “real Dylan,” but then again…maybe not. Enter at your own risk.

Click here to access the playlist on Spo­ti­fy. Or stream it above.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Bob Dylan’s New­ly-Released Nobel Lec­ture: A Med­i­ta­tion on Music, Lit­er­a­ture & Lyrics

Hear a 4 Hour Playlist of Great Protest Songs: Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Bob Mar­ley, Pub­lic Ene­my, Bil­ly Bragg & More

The First Episode of The John­ny Cash Show, Fea­tur­ing Bob Dylan & Joni Mitchell (1969)

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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Comments (4)
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  • Michelle says:

    I real­ly loved this arti­cle. I recent­ly revis­it­ed some old Dylan albums on spo­ti­fy and I thought the same thing, like, man This does not sound like the same per­son. Did he have a back­up singer on this song?! Haha. So, I don’t feel too bad about miss­ing some of his albums com­plete­ly. I have my favorites and that’s good enough.

  • Stephanie Donegan says:

    I recent­ly revis­it­ed Dylan’s music. I had Street Lagal on vin­ly and 3 cas­sette tapes. Noe I have access to 55 hours via this playlist on Spo­ti­fy.
    All I can say is I under­stand why Dylan received the Nobel Prise for Lit­er­a­ture in 2016. He’s with our three Irish Poets Shaw, Yeats and Heaney.
    He facil­i­tates great enjoy­ment and think­ing through his music.
    It does­n’t mat­ter about much else.

  • David Bradley says:

    I’ve been a fan since ’75, when my sis­ter got me “Before The Flood” for my birth­day. I own a good deal of his albums. My opin­ion now is exact­ly what it was then: some peo­ple get it, and some don’t. The voice is exact­ly as it should be, all the time. He was­n’t award­ed a Nobel for smooth pipes.

  • Luke Stromberg says:

    I did this a while back, though my playlist, though very expan­sive, is curat­ed. I did, though, attempt to put it in rough chrono­log­i­cal order by record­ing date.


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