PHOTO Bob Dylan covers Rolling Stone for 70th birthday

Rolling Stone's cover in dedication of Bob Dylan's 70th birthday

Rolling Stone is rolling out the red carpet in dedication of the man who wrote “Like A Rolling Stone” on his 70th birthday.

Via the long standing rock magazine’s website they have a delicious buffet of all you can eat Bobby D action in the form of these various articles:

The 10 Greatest Dylan Songs

20 Overlooked Classics

10 Best Bootlegs

Quiz: Do You Know Your Dylan?

Photos: The Evolution of Dylan

Bob’s First Rolling Stone Interview

There is also the long popular, “What is your favorite Bob Dylan song?” question and it is posed to musical luminaries Bono, David Crosby, Lucinda Williams, Marcus Mumford, Sinead O’Connor, Dave Stewart, Bob Weir, Bozz Scaggs, Roger McGuinn, and Merle Haggard.

They all provide detailed reasons for their selections and I would like to highlight the following from Merle Haggard, who is squarely in the argument for greatest country songwriter of all time.  The two living legends toured together back in ’05 and somehow the world didn’t just end.  Here’s just a portion of what The Hag had to say (you’ll have to read the article to see which song he selected):

He’s always improving, trying to create. He thinks all the time. I’ve never seen him when he looked like he wasn’t doing something, including the whole time we toured together in 2005. I was on a television show in Los Angeles with him seven years ago with Jerry Lee Lewis and Willie Nelson. He stayed in the wings and never did talk to nobody. Somebody said, “What’s he doing over there?” and I said, “F*ck, he’s writing a go*damn standard.”

Bob Dylan’s songs changed my life and have been a faithful companion in my journey to this day.  I’m looking forward to opening a cold one and going through every bit of all the articles.  I haven’t checked any out yet except the personal favorites because I had to immediately know what Lucinda Williams and Merle Haggard answered.

I love lists and have went back and forth in my own head about Bob Dylan’s best.  I have decided without any further hesitation that the following is not only his best but is also the greatest song I’ve ever heard.  Bob’s pretty protective of his work online so I’ll let the man who inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sing it:

Chimes of Freedom:

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Starry-eyed an’ laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing