BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in April 2005We've left it here for reference.More information

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Music
Listen Live.

 Full Schedule

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

37 | Top 100

Like a Rolling Stone
Bob Dylan
Dylan was already a controversial figure by the time this classic was released. The previous year he had shocked folk purists with his conversion to the electric guitar and he recorded this song with a full
Bob Dylan
Song facts
Composer Bob Dylan
Genre† Rock
Album Highway 61 Revisited
Released 1965
UK Chart Position 4
rock band. However it was session musician Al Kooper who made the most telling contribution to the track. Kooper was there merely to watch but when Dylan decided a second organist was needed he bluffed his way into the job and improvised a swirling, circular melody on the Hammond. Dylan loved it and boosted it up in the mix.

Dylanís vocals are also pushed up high in the production, emphasizing the importance of the biting lyrics, which were taken from a 24-page short story heíd written about a society girl who has fallen on hard times.

The finished result revolutionised music in a way that few other songs have ever done. At over six minutes it broke down barriers on the notoriously time-conscious commercial radio and it proved that complex, intricate lyrics were no barrier to success. Folkies may have been outraged but it remains Dylanís biggest hit.

Other versions
Michael Bolton
 Michael Bolton†puts his own spin on the song on his album Timeless, which also featured the musical mulleteer attacking an entire raft of pop classics, including 'Whiter Shade of Pale' and 'Try and Little Tenderness'.

A powerhouse of a song. It takes you on an epic journey through Dylan's mind...

Samuel Johnson

Make a comment

Songwriting tips

Dylan's lyrics have been the subject of endless debate. How do you get inspiration for words? Find out more at our lyrics guide.
Test your knowledge

Think you're an expert on the famous Mr Zimmerman?


Like this song? Try these...

Blowin' In the Wind

Doves Doves
Special guests on Dermot's show this week

What's on

Radio 2 Documentaries
Find out more about current and forthcoming documentaries on Radio 2.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy