No, no…not the Bill Murray movie, but Bob Dylan. Love him or hate him he is certainly an icon. Personally, I love him….Blonde on Blonde being my favorite album. This post is all about good ole’ Bobby D, with the writings/compilations of Steve Hoffman from Good Note DJs:
TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE – THE LOVE SONGS OF BOB DYLAN
Here’s an understatement: Bob Dylan is not the warm and cuddly type.
Yet, brilliant composer and performer that he is, this lifelong rebel, protest singer, and proto-punk rocker has written and recorded quite a few love songs as beautiful and powerful as any in the Great American Songbook. For kicks, I went through the entire Dylan catalog (I’m proud to say I own every album of his, except for that hideous Christmas album), and develop a list of Dylan songs suitable for weddings.
What I mean by “suitable for weddings” is “wedding love songs.” To qualify as a wedding love song, a song should be unabashedly positive in tone. We all know how painful love can be at times, and how even the best of relationships have their ups and down (that’s why they make you say “in good times and in bad” in your vows!). In fact, many of the most moving love songs sing of unrequited love and lost love. But your wedding day is a time to celebrate mutual love between two people in the here and now.
So this list excludes a host of poignant Dylan songs that deal with troubled relationships, pleas for reconciliation, or fond memories of past loves. (Your wedding day is not the time to honor your ex.) That’s why you won’t see some of Dylan’s most haunting love songs on this list, such as “Just Like a Woman,” “Girl from the North Country,” “Mama, You Been On My Mind,” “If You Say Her Say Hello,” “Shooting Star,” “Can’t Escape From You,” or “Sara.”
Also excluded are songs Dylan recorded as covers, such as “Let It Be Me,” “Blue Moon,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” “Let’s Stick Together,” and “When Did You Leave Heaven.”
Finally, I only sifted through Dylan’s officially released output, excluding songs available only on unofficial bootlegs or that he wrote but never recorded.
I’ve listed them in chronological order rather than suggest an order in which they’d flow musically. If you’re a Dylanist wedding couple, you can create your own Dylan cocktail mix, using these songs as ingredients.
- Love Minus Zero/No Limit (from Bringing It All Back Home)
- From a Buick 6 (from Highway 61 Revisited)
- I Want You (from Blonde on Blonde)
- Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (from Blonde on Blonde)
- Down Along the Cove (from John Wesley Harding)
- I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (from John Wesley Harding)
- To Be Alone With You (from Nashville Skyline)
- Peggy Day (from Nashville Skyline)
- Lay, Lady, Lay (from Nashville Skyline)
- Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (from Nashville Skyline)
- If Not For You (from New Morning)
- Winterlude (from New Morning)
- New Morning (from New Morning)
- The Man In Me (from New Morning)
- On a Night Like This (from Planet Waves)
- Something There Is About You (from Planet Waves)
- Forever Young (from Planet Waves) (two versions, one as a ballad, the other as a rocker)
- You Angel You (from Planet Waves)
- Never Say Goodbye (from Planet Waves)
- Wedding Song (from Planet Waves)
- Is Your Love In Vain (from Street Legal)
- Emotionally Yours (from Empire Burlesque)
- I’ll Keep It With Mine (solo-piano version on Biograph; band version on The Bootleg Series volumes 1-3)
- aby I’m in the Mood (from Biograph)
- Had a Dream About You Baby (from Down in the Groove)
- Make You Feel My Love (from Time Out of Mind)
- Bye And Bye (from Love & Theft)
- Moonlight (from Love & Theft)
- Spirit on the Water (from Modern Times)
- Beyond the Horizon (from Modern Times)
- Beyond Here Lies Nothing (from Together Through Life)
Please understand: I’m not suggesting these as dance songs (although a few would work nicely as First Dance for a wedding couple who share a love of Dylan) but as cocktail or dinner music, where of course even the hippest hipster couple needs to keep in mind their older guests tolerance (or lack thereof) for background music that grates on their ears. The last thing you want is Aunt Margaret and Uncle Bill complaining all during dinner that the music’s too loud. To accommodate them, you might want to limit your Dylan wedding playlist to those in a more sedate musical mode, excluding the hard rockers.
Interesting to note that over half of Dylan’s happy love songs come from four albums recorded while married to his beloved Sara (John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, New Morning, and Planet Waves). Goes to show that even a rascal, outlaw, and perennial malcontent like Dylan had his share of marital bliss.