Robbie Robertson Revealed His Favorite Bob Dylan Songs

Robbie Robertson Revealed His Favorite Bob Dylan Songs | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via CTV News / Youtube

Bob Dylan’s musical journey was a whirlwind of transformation and controversy, and few individuals knew him as intimately as Robbie Robertson did during the latter half of the 1960s. First coming on board with the rest of The Hawks (later known as The Band) when Dylan went electric in 1965, Robertson saw the highs and lows of Dylan’s transformation from the beloved voice of his generation folk icon to controversial rock star, heathen, and martyr all wrapped into one package.

Witnessing Dylan’s Electric Revolution

As part of The Hawks, which later became known as The Band, Robbie Robertson was a firsthand witness to Bob Dylan’s groundbreaking shift from folk to rock. Robertson’s influence was far-reaching, extending to the choice of Dylan’s instrument and tone. He recalled a pivotal moment during the recording of “Like a Rolling Stone,” where he saw Dylan embrace rock and roll with unparalleled fervor. Robertson described the experience, stating:

“When Bob recorded the studio version of the song, I accidentally went with [musician] John Hammond Jr. to the studio. … We went in and they were recording ‘Like a Rolling Stone,’ and I thought, ‘Whoa, this guy’s pulling a rabbit out of the hat — I haven’t heard anything like this before’.”

Navigating a Turbulent Transition

Dylan’s embrace of rock and roll came with its fair share of challenges. Touring with The Hawks, he faced backlash from audiences, ranging from accusations of betrayal to outright physical altercations. Robertson reminisced about those intense times, sharing his admiration for Dylan’s vocal power despite his frail appearance.

“When I started playing with Bob, I didn’t know how so much vocal power could come out of this frail man. He was so thin. He was singing louder and stronger than James Brown [laughs]. We were in a battlefield on that tour, and you had to fight back.”

These battles defined an era and showcased the resilience of both Dylan and his collaborators.

Surprises and Camaraderie

The dynamic between Dylan and The Band extended beyond challenges to moments of camaraderie and creative surprises. While recovering from a 1966 motorcycle accident, Dylan stepped away from the chaos to recuperate. During this period, The Band recorded at ‘Big Pink,’ their shared residence in Woodstock. Robertson fondly recalled the moment they played Dylan the opening track of their debut album, “Tears of Rage,” a song co-written by Dylan and keyboardist Richard Manuel.

“It was so much fun to see the look on Bob’s face when we played him Music From Big Pink, and this is the first song on it … He didn’t see this coming, and neither did anybody else.”

Robbie Robertson’s Top Picks

In a glimpse into his personal favorites, Robbie Robertson unveiled his cherished Bob Dylan songs. Alongside the iconic “Like a Rolling Stone,” Robertson also revealed “Tears of Rage” as a standout. These choices showcase the multifaceted relationship between the musicians, where creative boundaries were pushed and artistic connections formed.