While most of the Dylan news of late has surrounded the upcoming, October, release of ninth entry in the official bootleg series (The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964), last month the new Dylan biography Bob Dylan In America was published by Doubleday. We have five copies to give away to AD readers. To enter, leave a comment below with your name (a valid email address in the submission field) and you favorite Dylan ‘era.’ And I’ll leave it up to you to creatively define what you consider ‘era’ to be. Will contact winners Friday.

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160 Responses to “Bob Dylan In America”

  1. Love the various “comeback” eras in Dylan’s career. eg. Blood on the Tracks, Time Out of Mind, Oh Mercy. Just when you think he’s down and out, he delivers a solid left hook or upper cut, to let you know he’s still got something to say.

  2. The bitter, apocalyptic Dylan of the mid-seventies (Blood on the Tracks into Desire into Street Legal with a side trip into the pure genius of The Basement Tapes).

  3. My favourite Dylan era is the one we’re in – the one in which Bob Dylan is actually real and is making music!

  4. I think it’s the contrarian in me, but I think my favorite “era” is his current era, from “Time Out of Mind” until now. Most, if not all, of his output during the last 15 years or so can stand right up next to his “classic” albums, especially “Love and Theft”, although they may not have the cultural impact.

    Plus, he’s as confounding as he’s ever been. Instead of causing questions like, “What are those lyrics about?” or “What do you mean Dylan went Christian?” it’s more like “Why doesn’t he hang it up, he can’t sing anymore.” or “A Christmas album? Is this a joke?”

    But, he’s still out there almost every night, and he’s still putting out good albums. Ok, maybe not the Christmas album so much…

  5. Is it possible to choose just 1 ‘era’? I’m not sure. Every era has a different flavour and my mood chooses the music. When I feel young and flighty I might choose a bit of ‘Freewheelin’ and when I’m feeling more contemplative I prefer a little ‘Blood on the Tracks’. But his latest offerings of the 00’s are without doubt his best yet and the gravelly voice is very sexy. Not bad for a 69 year old. I still would :D

  6. era, huh? well, I’m going to go with the period that begins with JWH and ends with Blood on the Tracks. I’ll argue that at least some of the Basement Tapes occurred during this period.

    i think jwh is under-rated, and, so too, is new morning.

    no one can in good conscience dispute the greatness of nash skyline or bott.

    during this period, you also have the curiosities of self-portrait and the pat garret and billy the kid st.

    dylan and planet waves are sort of outliers, but isn’t that what bob’s all about?

    best,

    George

  7. Blonde On Blonde is still my favorite Dylan album, so “Electric and Amped-Out” Dylan.

  8. My favorite era is the Rolling Thunder Review/Desire period. Bobby D putting on white face, touring with all of his friends and accompanying all of his songs with some first-class fiddlin’!

  9. “The Jesus Years”

  10. My favorite Dylan era is the current one, where Bob expresses himself using all this great variety of musical styles and influences of American music. The work of genius, wisdom and experience. The blood of the land in his voice.

  11. basement tapes era, bar none.

  12. Though i love so many of the eras, i always find myself going back to pretty much any of the albums between 1967 and 1973. Certainly the two i’ve listened to most are Nashville Skyline and John Wesley Harding, but the era would also have to include everything from Self Portrait to Planet Waves. Basically everything after the motorcycle crash but before Blood on the Tracks. but it’s all great, so what can i say.

  13. To me, the plugged in tracks on Live 1966 are the epitome of rock n roll. It is brash, messy, powerful and really loud. It will never get old.

  14. My favorite Dylan Era is the simple fact of his existence. And the fact that he inspired this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDEQPx1Lgqg. Genius

  15. the electric era that started at Newport Folk Festival. Genius

  16. I think my favorite “era” of Bob Dylan is when I started discovering his music beyond the few famous songs I’d heard on the radio. Digging into Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks (for just 3 examples) and letting all those great songs sink in was a magical period.

  17. For me, hands down, everything he did with The Band. To be a bug on The Basement wall in Woodstock. . .

  18. Let me preface this with the fact that I am a lifelong Dylan fan and I fully recognize my response may feel like it’s coming from left field, but hey, wasn’t his career full of moves like that?
    After almost 50 (!) years in the public eye, Dylan has managed to still be one of the most enigmatic figures in modern American history. Given that, the era that fascinates me more than anything is the one most shrouded in mystery — the events leading up to and after his motorcycle crash in 1966. Here is an artist who was hot on the heels of an amazing 3 album run — any of which would have been the pinnacle of any lesser artist’s career. He was at the peak of his popularity and influence and could have continued to ride that wave in whatever artistic pursuit he saw fit.
    Then the crash. How did he see the world when he finally had some time to reflect? What inspired him now? Was there any music flowing from him before he hooked up with The Hawks? We all know how this part of the story ends with JWH, but that year and a half from BOB till then, and all the associated mysteries, is what makes his music from that time period so interesting.

  19. Hard to pick a favorite, but lately I’ve really been into the Good As I Been To You/World Gone Wrong era and that period’s outtakes leading up to Time Out Of Mind. That was generally considered one of Dylan’s dry spells but I think that was a period of reflection and regrouping – a meditation on the music that turned him into the artist he is – and this period produced some of his most beautiful, spare recordings. It was a return to the melancholy you find at the root of Dylan’s best songs, and without the nostalgia of those two early 90’s albums, he probably wouldn’t have found the masterpieces he wrote later in the decade, namely “not Dark Yet”, “Red River Shore” and “Mississippi” which I consider the cumulation of all of what is best about Bob Dylan.

  20. ’65 and ’66.

  21. Long term I’m a pretty big fan of Basement tapes era Dylan.

  22. While my very favorite album by Bob Dylan is John Wesley Harding (due to its subtle charms, impossibly tight rhythm section, and enlightening take on American folk lyrics, structure, and subject matter) and Self-Portrait, Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash sessions, and most of New Morning are no slouches, I’d be lying if I didn’t say my favorite era is his very most Classic times. I’ll define that as Another Side of Bob Dylan through Blonde on Blonde.

    Do I need to defend that? Ok. After proving himself as an incredible talent in the folk world, he had the guts to follow his guts into stranger territory and was left with even further guts to follow and guts to follow with. The man was gutsy, is all I’m saying. While Bringing It All Back Home is considered canon now, his departure into more expansive and weirder territory (begun on Another Side) was certainly a risky career move. While he includes a reassuring side of folkish numbers, his politics became more complicated and further couched in satire, surrealism, and contradiction.

    Bob Dylan, at this moment, is also simultaneously a star and an anti-star. He becomes a hilarious mockery and confirmation of America (and pre-Kaufman, too!). We lack people that much in the public eye who are that daring with their identity and play with perception as effectively and as artistically as Dylan did during those times.

    Oh, then he ends that era with the best make out record ever created, not to mention one of the best SOUNDING productions ever made. I’ll cut myself off here as I’m reminded that I’m trying to win a book, not an A in Pop Music 101.

  23. I’ll call an era a decade and go with 1965-75, everything from Highway 61 Revisited to Blood on the Tracks, with a little Nashville Skyline in the mix and a few other favorites.

  24. It is impossible to pick just one…But since I have to… then it’s gotta be the Freewheelin’ era. I don’t think he necessarily coined that phrase, but his music of that album and that era defines it … And wouldn’t we all want to live our lives in a “Freewheelin'” era?

  25. ’68, the year from which my favorite album has been released from; Nashville Skyline.

  26. I’m so’ tangled up in blue’ as my Dylan era -

  27. I’ll take just about any era really. Recently been digging the Basement Tape boots and the Going, Going Guam sessions.

    Blood on the Tapes remains a boot that every Dylan fan needs to locate. Check them out.

  28. There are so many to choose from, but I consider the pinnacle of rock’s most interesting career to be the Thin, Wild Mercury years, which began in spirit on a handful of tracks (like She Acts Like We Never Have Met) on Another Side of Bob Dylan and achieved true greatness on the three subsequent records. Blonde On Blonde remains one of rock’s great documents, a genuine master at the peak of his powers finding a groove that allowed for a perfect, record-length expression of his genius. There have been a lot of great ones, but very few ever made a record that stands with Blonde On Blonde.

  29. Seriously, the best Dylan era is NOW…the Bob who has given us the Never Ending Tour; the Bob who has put forth his finest songwriting in decades be giving us Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, Modern Times, and Together Through Life; Ladies and Gentleman, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the Modern Bob!

  30. the bob of bob’s theme time radio hour. best show ever!!

  31. Jew ‘fro and Ray Ban era.

  32. Favorite era(s): Planet Waves thru Desire; Time Out Of Mind thru present.

    Never trust anybody who doesn’t like Bob Dylan!

  33. I am in the middle of reading this book right now, so I will not be vying for a free copy. BUT! I do want to chime in with my two cents and say that my favorite Dylan ‘era’ would have to be his transitional period between folk king and “going electric” (The Times-Another Side-Bringing It).

    Great book, BTW!

  34. Easily the 60’s, and his stream of conciousness era (The Times They Are a-Changin’,
    Another Side of, Bringing It All Back Home,Highway 61, Blonde). Some of the stuff he wrote was extremely powerful, and some of the stuff you had no idea what he was talking about, but you knew it was important somehow so you listened. It was also the era of some of the best/most controversial concerts ever (Royal Albert, Newport, etc.) Undeniably one of the most important decades in music ever, and he stood out among it all.

  35. Rolling Thunder!

  36. Sunglasses greaser hair era dylan…Which I guess would be his first 3 or 4 albums.

  37. This era right here, where he listens to Donovan’s pap with the shades on inside and then sings him Its All Over Now Baby Blue.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iID1vKgBUzQ

  38. The “Judas” era is Dylan’s most exciting and my favorite.

  39. AD – i feel like any dylan fan you pose this question to will have a different response about once every year or so, right? i think that’s what being timeless is all about.

    with that in mind i’d have to say that right now my favorite dylan ‘era’ is the months between september of 1973 & june of 1974. it begins with the start of the planet waves sessions & ends with the release of before the flood. just the story of how that album & the tour came together make it a fascinating period of time – but the music itself more than stands on it’s own.

    planet waves doesn’t have the handful of iconic songs of some albums, but what it has is range. in spades. for me, it’s that range that makes the album such an eccentric gem. and the band & the arrangements are absolutely right on: as sparse or haunting on some songs as they are raucous & jubilant on others. they are, as always, working for the song in a way that no other backing band could do.

    as for ‘before the flood’… it’s the first record i ever paid more than $1 for (it’s when i started collecting vinyl) so I may have some kind of sentimental connection to it, but damn: side 3 of that record has to be one of the all time greatest live album sides out there. his frenetic – almost manic – guitar playing, voice, & harp: it’s simply mesmerizing. and then – for me – the cherry on top – richard & levon singing the hell out of ‘the shape i’m in.’ after that, you can listen to fantastic renditions of ‘when you awake’ & ‘the weight,’ but i usually just move the needle back to the beginning of the side for one more listen to the harp solo on ‘don’t think twice, it’s all right.’

  40. The era in the photo above with R Manuel listening to the first pressings of Blonde On Blonde is usually a constant favorite, along with the Basement tapes, The Live 1966 “The Royal Albert Hall Concert” and Nashville Skyline. 1965 through 1969. The last of the “thin wild mercury” years and the transition into the quiet(er) ones.

  41. Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes are engrained into my psyche. I love this countrified-folk-rock Dylan. As a young adult whenever I’d hear any Basement Tapes tunes I’d sing along and know all the music, but I never recalled putting the record on throughout my lifetime. As it turns out, my dad played this record incessantly and danced around the room with me as a wee lad in the mid to late seventies. Corny? Yes. Incredibly cool musical upbringing? Shit yes!

  42. The John Wesley Harding to New Morning sessions.

  43. New Morning is overlooked. its critical uncertainty deserves reconsideration. there is a timelessness to it, which makes it stands apart from self-portrait. naturally, i’d be partial to the DONT LOOK BACK dylan, so moving on from the mid-sixties, i’m favouring a certain rebirth but not born again. still a good record.

  44. Right now…… Time out of Mind until Together Through Life. Raw, emotional and beautiful stuff….

  45. I’d love a copy!

  46. HARD RAIN live , w/ Rolling Thunder band

  47. I’m surprised no one’s gone for Infidels-Empire-Knocked out – Groove yet! Actually, no I’m not…
    This is tough, but I’ll go for the Rolling thunder years.

  48. Post-wreck Woodstock edges out Rolling Thunder by a nose for me but I don’t disagree with any post yet….

  49. I just finished reading Barney Hoskyns’ Across The Great Divide, so I’m feeling extra-fond of Dylan’s time with the Band up in Woodstock right now.

  50. The “Cate Blanchett” era.

  51. my favourite era is the era of bob dylan. may his songs stand the test of time.

  52. Era …an extended period of time the years of which are numbered from a fixed point or event … from this definition i reckon we’re either in the 69th year of the Bob Dylan era (if we mark the fixed point as May 24, 1941 – when he first appeared) or the 48th year of the Bob Dylan era (if we mark the fixed point as March 19, 1962 – when his first album was released) … whatever, i was born in ’57 and i don’t know any other era. from You’re No Good to It’s All Good i’m just grateful to be alive and singing during the BD era.

    also, thanks for makin’ the world a better place AQ!

  53. I vote for the mid-70s . . . Blood on the Tracks era

  54. ’78 – the Rundown era…part Elvis, part Bruce, part Neil Diamond…pure Dylan – reinvention big band a different sound…into Street Legal, an album that actually gets better with age – that’s my vote

  55. I find I have drifted away from the conventional wisdom that Dylan peaked in the mid-60s. Hearing the Rolling Thunder Revue live 1975 album was a revelation and together with Blood on the Tracks and Desire makes a good case for the mid-70s. But I’m finding more and more time for the last batch of albums – perhaps the first time he’s had a real settled band and I think it shows.

  56. Favorite Dylan era? May 22, 1954–Robert Allen Zimmerman has his bar mitzvah at the Androy Hotel in Hibbing, Minn. Some 400 people attend. Who wouldn’t want to hear a recording of this performance? “Young Bob Sings the Torah, Taught By a Traveling Rabbi.” Priceless.

  57. My favourite era is the era where “The times they are a-changing” continues to be relevant.

  58. The John Wesley Harding through Blood on the Tracks period — Nashville Bob, I guess. Even though Self Portrait falls into that space. SP was his ‘worst’ album at the time, but there have been worse since, and with the benefit of hindsight I think we can now see that there is more good than bad on SP. You know what gets overlooked a lot? New Morning. It is a surprisingly good record.

  59. Saw the Book at B&N. Looks great – esp the chapter on Blonde On Blonde. Would love one.

  60. my favorite era is the “John Wesley Harding”/ “Basement Tapes” era. Also known as the post- motorcycle accident era.

  61. Twangy, country, rock and roll era that made all the folkies cry…

  62. Hands down the time he spent with The Band. From Newport Folk Fest to Big Pink, this was a match made in heaven. Not only did The Band give Dylan’s songs a new, exciting sound, Dylan showed The Band how to write the lyrically intelligent songs that would allow them to become one of the best bands in the history of rock and roll.

  63. Bringing It All Back Home….Highway 61 Revisited….Blonde on Blonde: The Holy Trinity Before the Crash. The American answer to Revolver, Pepper, and the White Album even if the chronologies don’t quite match. I’d be tempted to tack on John Wesley Harding to make things more interesting. As much as I love the Guthrie in Suede, Bearded Bob, Rolling Makeup, Bible Bob, New Orleans Bob, and Grammy Bob Eras, Afro and Wayfarers Bob was when he took this wonderful alchemy of folk and beat poetry and made something entirely new and plugged it into a Vox. And the flood of great songs came pouring out.

    Check out Sean Wilentz’s new book Dylan and the Beats excerpted in the New Yorker a few weeks back. Time well spent.

  64. I have to say my favorite era was (and is) 1989 to current. When i think of how massive Dylan’s career and influence was from 1963 to 1979, he could have sat on his piles of money and rested. But his own resurgence starting with Oh Mercy and continuing with every album that followed (except for maybe Under the Red Sky which is Dylan’s modern era Self Portrait) just reinforced the fact that he is able to keep his insane levels of creativity without giving in to his contemporaries standard of sitting back and releasing half baked efforts and re-releasing the same hits in a different format every few years to make a quick buck. His run of Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, Modern Times and Together Through Life are as good as any other 4 album run in his career. Plus he recorded a Christmas Album which is the most anti-Dylan thing that only Bob could pull off. I’ll call this era: Dylan, Modern Times.

  65. I’ll call my favorite Dylan era that ‘Country Home’ era-John Wesley Harding through Planet Waves. All of those albums have that Big Pink/Basement Tapes feel, but a little more mature and wiser coupled w/ better production. The comforts of family life in the country had really seeped into Dylan’s writing, and he seems at ease as a writer and a person for once and possibly the only time in his career.

  66. The beginning-in-late 90s live shows with Charlie Sexton were just some of the best rock shows I’d ever seen. When they did Brown Sugar and Old Man, songs by my favorite bands, but made them – somehow – into Dylan songs – I was blown away.

  67. The era of the video for Subterranean Homesick Blues. Cool clothes, great lyrics, love that it is shot in an alley with Allen Ginsberg in the background. Just hypnotic.

  68. Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde for sure. and also what he did with the Band and also, I’m one of the few admirers of the Dylan/Dead stuff. Bob is the best.

  69. I’m a fan of Bob’s born-again period, the late ’70s when he was doing Christian-oriented rock. Gotta serve somebody!

  70. The wild carnival that was the Rolling Thunder Review

  71. My Fav. era is whatever comes next.

  72. In high school, a friend played me “Like A Rolling Stone.” It was the first track of Dylan’s I ever heard and it opened up a whole new world. “Freewheelin'” was the first album of his I bought and listened to it obsessively. I think “Blood on the Tracks” is one of his best albums, but lately I’ve been digging on “Tell Tale Signs.” So, almost twenty years after hearing “Like A Rolling Stone” I’d have to say The Dylan Era is my favorite era.

  73. The thing that strikes me about Dylan is that he could be in the middle of what could be considered a “lull phase” in his career and boom, out of nowhere comes a brilliant song (i.e. Brownsville Girl).

    To paraphrase something that has been said above, you could ask me in a year, and I might have a different answer, but currently I have a lot of excitement for the 90’s period to today. I don’t know, I might be just guessing but it seems like the man is overall happier and more content these days.

  74. I’m going with the “Freewheeling” era. Dylan was so young, open and raw. There are stories of him (still an unknown) taking over Greenwich Village parties and turning them into his own personal house concerts. Listen to the between-song chatter on the Bootleg Vol. 6: Philharmonic Hall, New York concert. He talks freely and without a hint of self-consciousness. Never again would he be so unguarded. It was this era that the “topical” songs flowed out of him, ripped from the front pages, “as told by” Bob Dylan.

    There are plenty of other good Dylan eras, but for me this is the magic one.

  75. My favorite is era 69 – 75. Nashville Skyline to The Basement Tapes. Most artists would wish to have a tenth of the quality produced during that period.

  76. 1965 – When Bob went electric. Everything you’d want from a musician. Brazen, uncharted and devil-may-care. Bob made many bold moves in his career, but this was the defining moment that changed the musical landscape.

  77. “Old Weird America” Dylan: Basement Tapes & John Wesley Harding. THough Benzedrine Beatnik (Bringing It all Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited & Blonde On Blonde) Dylan’s a very close second.

  78. favorite era:
    May 24, 1941 to…

  79. Bringin’ It/Hwy 61

  80. The “era” spanning “Blood on the Tracks” to “Slow Train Coming,” even though I don’t really know if history has seen that as a definitive and cohesive “era.” I still feel like there’s a personal narrative through the albums made during that period of time.

  81. Initially for me as a Bob Dylan fan it was his solo acoustic albums I was most fond of, particularly, Another Side of Bob Dylan. I liked his electric albums of the mid sixties but the real next album I was a fan of was Nashville Skyline. Then after buying and listening to the Rolling Thunder Revue album (which was on tour about a year after I was born) from the Bootleg Series I was blown away! Subsequently I became hooked on Blood On The Tracks and, especially, Desire! So I would have to say Desire/ Blood OnThe Tracks period Dylan is my favorite. Love and Theft and Time Out Of Mind have become favorites of mine as well. With the upcoming release of the acoustic Witmark Demos I am looking forward to listening to and reacquainting myself with early Dylan!!

  82. So hard to pin down an “era” especially considering we’re given the option to creatively define our own, but I will say mine is the late 60’s when Bob “went electric”. I agree with Tom S. that it was a defining moment in music history and I can listen to the live at Royal Albert Hall disc over and over…

  83. While it’s hard to pick a best era, I would have to say my favorite is the Desire/Rolling Thunder Revue era. He allowed himself to work with another lyricist and take a band on the road that he really hadn’t worked with before. The music sounds different than so many of his other records, too. The way he sings with his violin player, Scarlet Rivera, is really arresting and beautiful. That record is just an amazing document of the change he was going through in the 70’s – really embracing the grand scale, the bigness of the 70’s. He seemed to be really political this time around (instead of “faking it” for journalists in the 60’s), wanting his friends around him on the road to lend him a hand (and vice verse), and bring some real excitement to every city he toured in. It was a great era for the man.

  84. I have argued with my friends about the extent of the influence that Dylan had on the Beatles and vice versa. My contention is that they weren’t as much competing as having a dialogue. Brian Wilson tried to compete with the Beatles, and was able to until the pressures of doing so accelerated his decline off the deep end. In the 60’s, Dylan seemed to take their ideas and use them for his own means. The era when this happened is probably my favorite Dylan era. Then the Beatles made Sgt. Peppers and Dylan said “fuck that” and recorded “John Wesley Harding,” leading to a whole other story and my second favorite Dylan era.

  85. The “Meet The Beatles” also known as “I get high, I get high…” Bob Dylan era.

  86. would probably have to be ’66-’70, or “Blonde on Blonde” to “New Morning”

  87. I’m going to say his rough and ragged woodstock country era, roughly encompassing the basement tapes, john wesley harding, nashville skyline, etc.

  88. tonight i’ll be staying here with you girl from the north country peggy day give me one more night to be alone with you just lay lady lay and tell me it isn’t true country pie cause i threw it all away on that nashville skyline rag……just under thirty minutes of dylan bringing you on a country hay ride soo country era dylan is mine.

  89. I’d go with the post-motorcycle country phase when you can really hear the influence of the band and the south in general.

  90. The crooning voice era

  91. Call me crazy, but I really like the Theme Time Radio era Dylan…other than that it would have to be the Basement Tapes.

  92. Is Dylan that big a draw or is it the free shit?

  93. How about the 50’s before Robert Zimmerman could ever have imagined what would becoe of Bob Dylan

  94. My favorite Dylan era is ‘The Dharma And Greg’ Era where dylan jams with Dharma on drums and T Bone Burnett providing slinky bass.

  95. Personally I dig the mid 60’s, but more specifically the Bootleg Series Vol. 4. That recording is so raw and full of emotion. You can hear the desperation in Dylan’s voice, especially on the solo acoutstic set. The Band is awesome, Robertson’s guitar fills and solos blow my mind as do the organ fills. How anyone could not like this recording is beyond me. Bob Dylan is the master.

  96. My favorite era was the exact moment he wrote “Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet?”

  97. The last half century has been my favorite Dylan era.

  98. One of perhaps the most underrated records, New Morning, released just months after Self Portrait in 1970, is perhaps my favorite in a list I refer to as the “Post Motorcycle Crash Decade” or, my most loved Dylan ERA. It is of course truly impossible to seriously pick a favorite album, as the man’s portfolio holds gems for just about every emotion/season/situation a human being can encounter.
    Blonde on Blonde – to – The Basement Tapes, that is where you’ll find the gifts that keep on giving:
    Blonde on Blonde
    John Wesley Harding
    Nashville Skyline
    Self Portrait
    New Morning
    Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid
    Dylan
    Planet Waves
    Blood On The Tracks
    The Basement Tapes

  99. I like the current never ending tour era.

    And what’s the deal with these new mono remasters coming out? anyone heard those yet?

  100. The Christmas Song’s Era

  101. Favorite era: Post-Crash (’68-70, John Wesley Harding – New Morning)

  102. I love how Dylan has changed his style through the years, and that his voice has become more gritty, more worldly-wise, and yet at the core of it – the poetry of his songs and the passion with which he sings them remains the same – I love all his eras :)

  103. 1965 – 1970. Some great, diverse stuff, with ’65 having two of my favorites, Bringing It All Back Home and Hwy 61 Revisited.

  104. I’m a HUGE Dylan fan. Absolutely my favorite. While the mid-60s “era” (including rock’n’roll [like a rolling stone is clearly the best song ever] and folk [another side of...]) is unbeatable, and “new,” recent Dylan is so sophisticated and orchestral (I think Modern Times is one of the best albums ever), my “favorite” era is probably the ’67-Big Pink stuff. I think it’s Dylan, and folk/popular music, at its best. The bootlegs from that session are fucking incredible — far better than the official Basement Tapes.

  105. my favorite “era” was the first album. he recorded it, moved on to some other things…but gawd how it sings to your soul–in my time of dyin’–and it’s dark, so many songs about death and dying, maybe it’s rebirth and not the end; sad for the folks left behind…he touched on things he never came back to.

  106. his transition from folk to electric

  107. Infidels was the best. I was always big on Blood on the Tracks too

  108. The Theme Time Radio Hour era. Talk about moving on gracefully, with this and Chronicles Bob has gone from inscrutable crank to the heart and soul of popular song.

  109. I’ll take the folk–>rock transition period with killer albums on either side

  110. Time Out of Mind because that was my first exposure to Dylan. but as of now The Rolling Thunder Revue has some amazing arrangements of that era of work.including one of my favorite dylan tracks Going Going Gone. there isn’t alot of bad dylan. the man has played with G E Smith, Tom Petty, The Band, Charlie Sexton, Bloomfeiild. name one other artist in modern music that has come close to being as profilic and never disappointing.lets not forget he was the inspiration for one of my favorite beatle songs Doctor Robert. i have tons of dylan bootlegs including Eat the Document. im seeing him live for the 10th and 11th time in two weeks. cant wait. i hardly doubt i will win but i wont think any less of your amazing blog. your blog has turned me onto alot of bands that dont ever get my way or get any airplay.

  111. I don’t think anything comes close to the 64-66 era which includes the two masterpieces Highway 61 > Blonde on Blonde. I guess I shouldn’t say nothing else comes close ’cause they do, but this is his best.

  112. if its not to late changing mine to Elston Gun and the Shadow Dodgers! hands down greatest band name ever! EVER!! end of discussion

  113. anxious to hear the revamped witmark demos….

  114. I have put quite a bit of thought into this, which is the reason I have taken so long to post a reply to the question. I don’t have a favorite Dylan era. I can unequivocally say that his Christian rebirth period is my least favorite, but it still produced very damn good music. But, if I have to pick I am going to say the Woodstock era Dylan during his time with the Band. It is difficult to put an exact time frame on this period, but you could argue that it went from the mid 1960’s during his move to electric and into the mid to late 1970’s when The Band were out on their own. Planet Waves is one of my favorite lesser known Dylan albums, the Basement Tapes are perfect, and the 1966 Royal Albert Hall concert is a historical landmark.

  115. Vacant & gone TOOM era Bob is my fav.

    “I’ve been walkin through the summer nights, the jukebox playin low
    Yesterday everything was moving too fast, today it’s moving too slow”

  116. My favorite era is the mid-1960’s electric stuff. Could be the peak of rock and roll.

  117. I gotta say my favorite era to revisit is nashville skyline/ self portrait. watching the videos of him on the johnny cash show playing i through it all away is just great.
    his voice as a crooner was just damn near perfect, and in classic dylan fashion he only did it once, leaving us to scavenge the internet like crazy just to find a little demo of him doing sam cooke’s “cupid” in that voice.

  118. My favorite Dylan era has to be the mid-sixties, just because the albums he released then are some of my all-time favorites. I love all of it, though, because if you ask me, Dylan’s never really stopped being interesting. I love him as Woody Guthrie: The Sequel, I love him as a weird Christian, I love him as the guy who decides to record a Christmas album and wear a wig in the music video. The guy never ceases to amaze me.

  119. The favorite Dylan “era” of yours truly is surely the mind-bending minimalism of “Freewheelin'” through “Another Side”. “I was born at the bottom of a wishing well.”

  120. “Sign On The Window Woodstock Family Man Era”

  121. the shit-house crazy jesus camp era, no doubt. mock Saved and Slow Train Coming and Shot of Love all you want, but that stuff has genuine holy spirit stank all over it. his gospel caterwauling on “a satisfied mind” isn’t the sound of a whitebread genre dabbler. it’s too strange, too balls-out heart-and-guts convicted to be anything less than the real deal. and that stuff will scare you just as quick as it puts a fire in your belly. plus, it can clear out an unwanted house party like nothing else.

  122. Rolling Thunder…..he sang well …..looked cool and surrounded himself with a great cast. He even made an epic film that one day will be heralded as a classic ( if it ever sees the light of day). I,ve beentrying to wrap a scarf around my head for years but i can never look as cool as him.

  123. for me, it’s when dylan crashed new york into nashville and created blonde on blonde

  124. The Don’t Look Back Always Carry a Light Bulb Who Threw A Glass In The Street Big Noise Shut Up Joan I’m Trying to Type Era

  125. “Blood on the Tracks” is an era, to me. It was cataclysmic, coming out when I was in high school and totally unprepared for its assault on my ears and mind. We had been handed down the previous Dylan, the great stuff, Highway 61 and all, and we listened diligently. After BOTT, we had our own Dylan, arguably even better than the rest. Wow. Now that we are lucky enough to hear the tracks from the original (intended) release, we can savor this whole episode–era–anew.

    Brad

  126. Favorite Dylan era is when he was known as “Blind Boy Grunt” before he really had a voice of his own–and the Dylan moniker. It’s always inspiring to hear artists who started so devoted to a certain genre or style, but with traces of their own genius already popping out.

  127. basement tapes + before the flood… “the band era” i suppose…

  128. Of course the Basement Tapes era…I’ll also put The Wilburys on top. Congratulations is one of his best songs.

  129. During and post-pot, pre-Jesus.

  130. The era before the public wawoos saw an era.

    The era that most of us are in, the days before his big bang. Those were grand days that anyone can relate to, playing in bars, covering songs from the voices of the past, and beginning to have his own voice heard, one that would surely endure for a long time.

    This era is my favorite, the one that came before his self-titled, when he called himself: “Blind Boy Grunt.”

    That “era” rings true in my ears. It’s not a preference in sound, nor does it relate to a memory I had “when it first came out”. I’m way too young to relate with memories. But just the fact that I can listen to it and be level with him, eye to eye, he who at the time was sitting on the sidewalk just as I can sit on the sidewalk, mumbling thoughts to himself.

    Blind Boy Grunt IS my Bob Dylan.

  131. Let me be freewheelin’ for the rest of it all

  132. The “Cate Blanchett” Era.

  133. It changes depending on which albums I’ve been listening to. Because I’m teaching Dylan right now, and have been immersed in the early stuff, I’ll go with the early folk Dylan. Hattie Carroll, Only A Pawn, Boots of Spanish Leather.

  134. This is entirely too difficult. I think I need to read a free copy of Bob Dylan in America to decide.

  135. One of my favorite Dylan periods is the one that produced such albums as “Nashville Skyline”, “Self Portrait”, “New Morning”, and “Dylan”. On these albums, Dylan has the voice of a more poetic Kermit Thee Frog and looks like a very pleasant father.

  136. 60’s era dylan

  137. 1978, when first saw Bob in concert, to present (seeing again come November). Nothing like “live”.

  138. When I was 16 I saw Hard Rain on TV. I was very impressed by that man with the blue bandana on his head. I checked him out: Blood On The Tracks, Desire and of course Hard Rain. Wow, this was something else! No more ‘Hotel California’ or ‘God Save The Queen’ for me. I bought every Bob Dylan album since then, but that period in the mid Seventies still is my favorite.

  139. Saved is a great record. The songs, the band, the arrangements, bob’s singing are all fantastic. It is as real and as focused as anything he has ever done. I keep hoping (probably in vain) that a live show from that era will be released as part of the Bootleg Series.

  140. I’m going to have to go with 1973 (after Pat Garrett, before Planet Waves) until between September and December 1974 (after he’d recorded Blood On The Tracks and before he’d decide to re-record it). Spare, immediate, human recordings.

  141. geeeze- picking a favorite era is like picking a favorite song. It just can’t be done- At least I can’t.

    The thing is I miss all those other Bobs.
    While watching a video of “Chimes of Freedom” performance at Newport recently I was struck by his sweetness, presence, commitment to that moment.
    Something happened off camera that caused him to burst out laughing in this pure, delighted, uncensored burst of pleasure. You could see the boy and know that not soon after this a more guarded man emerges.
    I miss that boy.
    But then again, when I watch a Rolling Thunder video with the carnival like atmosphere, the wildness of it, the “costuming” I miss that Bob and wish he’d come out to play again. And the Rock and Roll Bob of the 80’s where he was kind of wild and friendly, smiled a lot- big genuine enjoying the moment smiles as he performed and even interacted with the audience occasionally… (giving me my own special Dylan concert moment) I miss that guy- I want to have a couple of beers with him and laugh like hell.

    I love this Bob as well- the music, the lyrics, the performances, the cracked voice- all of it- and all the other eras are there ushering this one in and peeking out now and again. I’m glad to still be experiencing this longest running piece of performance art on the planet.

    but still- Even as I listen to him, enjoy him in concert- I miss Bob- every one of them.

  142. One can construct any argument for an era, single album or even a tour. It is truly a subjective endeavor. Even we fifty-somethings did not live through the early to mid-sixties era and listen to the first ten albums when they were first released. When you listen to an artist like Dylan in retrospect, can you truly appreciate the impact of his genius?
    Having started with New Morning in1970 and working my way back through the catalogue, yes ,including the coolest of red and blue bootlegged LP’s and listening forward for an incredible 40 years, I have tried to objectively assess this question.
    The only conclusion I can reach is that the Trilogy from Bringin’ it all back home, Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde trumps any other period. Please include Live 66 and the feral rock and searing acoustic versions of The otherwordly songs such as Tambourine Man, It’s Alright Ma, Gates of Eden, etc. (Lifetime Masterpieces from a 23-25 year old)not to mention Ballad of a Thin Man,Rolling Stone etc. The centerpieces of Dylan’s Masterpieces, (Did I mention Visions of Johanna?) were created in this era.
    The older Dylan fans 60 plus and you youngsters 40 or less, I suspect ,if you have listened to the whole Catalogue including the throw aways, after soul- searching would likely rather hear more masterpieces from the Trilogy period I cited than any other period. Yes, I admit it is nice to hear Hard Rain, Blowin in the Wind, Times they are a changin Hollis Brown and Masters of War. I even feel a special treat when Every Grain of Sand, as spectacular song a has ever been written appears on a set list or Blind Willie McTell for that matter, but when it really comes down to it, the 64-66 period cannot be duplicated, a fact Bob himself admits when he states that even he cannot conceive how he wrote those songs. Truth is, no one could, and more likely than not, no one ever could again.
    In sum, every period has its gems and chestnuts (even the Christmas Album),the never ending tour burnishes Bob’s Legacy, though who among us would not sacrifice something dear to have the 66 voice back over the ravaged voice left. Just keep enjoying the presence on disc and live and let all these fun debates rage on.

  143. The “era” that tends to be my go-to period when I grab a Dylan album off the rack would be the first electric one, from Bringing It All Back Home to Blonde On Blonde. Thanks to hindsight, of course, it stretches to include the Basement Tapes, which dovetails nicely into John Wesley Harding, which begat Nashville Skyline and eventually New Morning. And by that time I can go back to Another Side and Times Changin’.

    So, good question. Tough to answer.

  144. Picking one era over all of the others is not an easy task. But just for a change of pace, I’ll go with the “Christian Era”. The live shows in particular found Dylan reaching way down to sing from the heart. Certainly one of these shows would make for an outstanding Bootleg Series release.

  145. I think the greatest Bob Dylan era was the one from 1951 to 1961, the formative years when little Bobby Zimmerman was taking in all the influences from around him, including the records he spun in Hibbing’s music shop, the far-away radio stations he listened to late at night, his girl friend’s dad’s record collection, his discovery of Woodie Guthrie’s music and immersion in folk music in Minneapolis’s Dinkytown. This is the era that defined the individual who became Bob Dylan, part rock and roll, part blues, part folk, part country and everything in between. In reading about his youthful years over this past year, I have discovered many, many artists and filled my I-Pod with so much wonderful music that I never would have listened to without Bob Dylan leading the way. And most of all, I rediscovered Bob Dylan in my sixties and have collected nearly every album he’s made (still working on it). My family thinks I’m certifiable, because I truly am obsessed with the Bob Dylan world of music and loving every minute of it. Thank you Bobby!!!!

  146. The one I’m listening to.

  147. My favorite Dylan era is his 607080900010 voice of truth experience.

  148. Give me that bitter, broken hearted, post-divorce, Blood on the Tracks Dylan !! Pissed off Bob creates the best works of art !!

  149. It changes with the seasons from the basements to highway to bloody tracks to john wesley all the way down to rocking jesus . Thanks

  150. With the seasons from the basements to highway to bloody tracks to john wesley all the way down to rocking jesus . Thanks

  151. my fav era is the blonde on blonde era! That man is a f’n genious and is a national treasure. I love me some dylan, and so does my baby~

  152. My favorite Dylan era is a period of about 6 minutes – “Tangled Up in Blue”, 1974.
    There were other great eras, most of them longer than 6 minutes, but this was his best.

  153. My favorite era changes depending on my mood. Right now it’s the ‘Freewheelin’ – ‘Another Side Of’ – ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.

  154. I would have to say that music from every Dylan album gets under my skin, always in a good entirely life enhancing way and for this I am so grateful for his many gifts to us.

  155. My favorite era would be that period of incredible productivity (and artistry) around the time of the Times They Are A-Changin’ LP. So many great songs that didn’t even make the album.

  156. The trilogy of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde And Blonde would have to be considered his greatest ‘era’ in terms of innovation, consistency, inspiration and dynamism.

    All three of those records are works of genius – taking traditional musical forms and structures, he infused them with urbane wit and outrageous lyrical prowess. They are more than just rock records, they are portraits of a man almost deliriously inspired, who is on auto-pilot, living in a world of his own making, where everything is slightly stranger, and more beautiful.

    It is impossible for me to listen to any of these albums and not be moved tremendously, such is their depth and quality. From ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ to ‘Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’, you have a creative zenith that can only happen once in an artist’s life, where they are unconsciously and wildly spitting forth great work at such pace that it seems easy. Dylan has a lot of great later work too, but as even he admitted, he couldn’t write songs like these again if he tried.

  157. I just love the Basement Tapes. Even before I knew what the Basement Tapes were, the very first song I played guitar on in front of an audience was a cover of “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” – I just followed the chords, tried not to fuck up and had fun. It’s nice to know that was kind of the spirit of the thing originally.

    I not only own the proper version, but the Tree With Roots bootleg, and the newish “Safety Master” bootleg that apparently came from Neil Young’s archives, and which sounds better than the 2009 remastered version (partly because of no overdubs, partly because it’s a better copy of the master – it’s so clean-sounding – makes you realise that the equipment they recorded it on wasn’t actually that bad). Put it this way: I’ve even listened to “See You Later Allen Ginsburg” more than once.

    I went and found Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe” because I wanted to see what “Clothesline Saga” was meant to be taking the piss out of (both songs ended up being awesome). I’ve always looked for great covers of the tunes, and in fact made a mix of contemporary-ish covers of tunes from the tapes (Apart from the obvious – The Band, Nina Simone doing “I Shall Be Released”, Manfred Mann – Coulson, Dean, McGuinness & Flint do some exceptional covers on an album of Dylan rarities, like “Lo and Behold”, and there’s a band called Trials And Tribulations that not only covered “Please Mrs. Henry” but also covered “The Stones I Throw” from when the Band were called Levon and the Hawks, who have a pleasing ramshackleness). I reckon Jim James & Calexico doing “Goin’ To Acapulco” is possibly the best Dylan cover ever, and love the old weird America scene in “I’m Not There” that comes from. I kind of feel that “I’m Not There (1956)” the song has been over-rated because it was scarce and rare, and was kind of hard to hear, so people could put their own meanings into it. My favourite obscure-ish songs from the tapes are “All American Boy” and “Sign On The Cross”. I wish there were more bands like the Felice Brothers who had the vibe of that music.

    I also have something of a collection of Dylan books that involve the Basement Tapes – the obvious is Greil Marcus’s paean to them, and there’s the Basement Tapes book that came out a couple of years ago, and there’s a large section in Clinton Heylin’s “Revolution In The Air” devoted to them, all of which I devoured, at first hesitatingly and then more rapturously.

    I have a recording of the lead singer of one of my favourite Australian bands, and some friends, singing some covers at a wedding. One of the covers they do is a lovely “I Shall Be Released”. The singer says before it, “I’m not sure who wrote this, I think this is a traditional” – and it does have Dylan’s name on the credit, but I know exactly what he means – it sounds like a song that always existed.

  158. The amphetamine years, the guy moving so hot and fast up his own road to destiny that he scorches and blinds half of those around him, the press, the folkies, even his friends. Responding to the “Judas” heckler with “you’re a liar!” and ripping into Like a Rolling Stone was a moment that Hollywood could never script. These years, 65-66, saw Dylan pull one of the most astounding creative outpourings of any artist in modern times.

  159. The post-motorsickle-crash, slightly forgotten stretch (from ’67-’74) that all started in the basement of a big pink house in Saugerties, NY…so much good stuff that most casual fans have no idea about. Love it!

    Basement Tapes > John Wesley Harding > Nashville Skyline > Self Portrait > New Morning > Planet Waves… only one hiccup in the stretch (I’ll let y’all decide which).

  160. [...] off, if you copped one of the Dylan biographies from us last month, please refrain from entering into this one. This week Aquarium Drunkard is [...]

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