Bob Dylan's top 5 kiss-offs


Fun fact: Before he became famous for appearing with Will.I.Am in Pepsi commercials and singing traditional Christmas carols, Bob Dylan was actually a noted original songwriter! Some may even say he's the greatest songwriter to ever walk the Earth. (Or wander random New Jersey towns.) I would be among those people, which is why I will be at the Patriot Center tonight to share a room with The Best There Ever Was. (Remember the Pope analogy.)

When Dylan played at Virgin Mobile Festival a couple years ago we convened a bunch of Posties to share their five favorite Dylan songs, so no need to revisit that. Our friends at Express have already come up with a list of Dylan's Top 5 Head-Scratching Moments, so no need to go there. So let's dig deep and get nerdy with the Top 5 Dylan Kiss-Off Lines, all from way back in the day.

(Five kickers that really sting, after the jump.)

It's not just that Dylan is a great lyricist; he could be a real jerk about it. But even when being a jerk, he had a way of making it sound elegant, even as the bitterness seeped through. And he always left you with that perfect closing line, one last body shot for the road. So here are my picks for best, most bitter, most perfect closing lines from Dylan songs.

1. "Don't Think Twice It's All Right"
"But goodbye's too good a word, babe/So I'll just say fare thee well/I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind/You could have done better but I don't mind/You just kinda wasted my precious time/But don't think twice, it's all right"

The dismissive use of "babe," the phrase "too good a word," the general apathy about the whole failed relationship ... and Bob's just like, "Don't worry about it."

2. "4th Time Around"
"And I, I never took much/I never asked for your crutch/Now don't ask for mine"

Is it about John Lennon? Is about Joan Baez? Either way, it's a suddenly brutal ending to a song which up to that point was mostly about gum.

3. "Positively 4th Street"
"Yes, I wish that for just one time/You could stand inside my shoes/You'd know what a drag it is/To see you"

This is the second most pointed one on the list, although the one at the bottom is in a different category entirely. The whole song is one attack after another, but the ending really stings.

4. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"
"The vagabond who's rapping at your door/Is standing in the clothes that you once wore/Strike another match, go start anew/And it's all over now, Baby Blue"

Infinite bonus points for the completely emasculating version played for a dazed Donovan in a hotel room in the classic Pennebaker documentary "Don't Look Back."

5. "Masters of War"
"And I hope that you die/And your death'll come soon/I will follow your casket/In the pale afternoon/And I'll watch while you're lowered/Down to your deathbed/And I'll stand o'er your grave/'Til I'm sure that you're dead"

So this one goes beyond getting the last word in on a rival or ex-lover. It's hard to top the imagery of standing over a grave and making sure someone's dead.

By David Malitz |  November 11, 2009; 11:00 AM ET Dylan , Lists
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It is hard to top the imagery of standing over someone's grave to make sure they're dead, but I think Dylan topped himself in "Idiot Wind" (surely his most biting "kiss off" song of all):

"You hurt the ones that I love best and cover up the truth with lies/One day you'll be in the ditch, flies buzzing around your eyes/Blood on your saddle."

Posted by: Saneaux | November 11, 2009 2:30 PM

My favorite is, "Dirge"...I hate myself for loving you and the weakness that it showed you were just a painted face on a trip down suicide road. The stage was set the lights went out all around the old hotel. I hate myself for loving you and I'm glad the curtain fell.

Posted by: joeborse | November 12, 2009 6:14 AM

2. "4th Time Around"
"And I, I never took much/I never asked for your crutch/Now don't ask for mine"

He's not talking about his "next" girl friend with that line. "I filled up my shoe and brought it to you." So it's not a dismissive line - it's a line telling her not to bring up the past.

Posted by: kparc | November 12, 2009 8:22 AM

Oooopps, I meant he's is talking about his next girl friend not the one he was talking about in the song. To early in the morning....

Posted by: kparc | November 12, 2009 8:23 AM

Thanks David for your list--always good to be reminded of Dylan's riches. Hoping that you, and other readers/commenters, made it to the show last night, I wondered about your acoustic experience. I'd like to kiss off the Patriot Center sound board, since Tony (bass) was so high in the mix, to paraphrase, a "roar of a wave that drowned the whole show". I roamed the hall, left and right, low and high, to escape the bass and hear Charlie and Donnie--to no avail--thin and faint under the grinding roar. All the nuances of Dylan's delivery, Donnie's banjo on HWFCP, Charlie's lead on HWY61, lost. Only "Forgetful Heart" was acoustically satisfying. How was it for all of you?

Posted by: jehurley | November 12, 2009 10:38 AM

Like a Rolling Stone is a kiss off in the sense he is speaking to her fallen state and the fact she is facing life on the road.

Posted by: biglith | November 12, 2009 11:51 AM

Did he just say crutch? Isn't that supposed to be crotch?

---I'm TP and I make bisaya films and really love cars.

Posted by: tighimogposporo | November 17, 2009 3:01 AM

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