Mr. Tambourine Man

June 11, 2024

This month I’m focusing on Rock Songs of the 60s.

Today our song is:  Mr. Tambourine Man

Wikipedia tells us this about the song:

"Mr. Tambourine Man" is a song written by Bob Dylan, released as the first track of the acoustic side of his March 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. The song's popularity led to Dylan recording it live many times, and it has been included in multiple compilation albums. It has been translated into other languages and has been used or referenced in television shows, films, and books.

The song has been performed and recorded by many artists, including the Byrds, Judy Collins, Melanie, Odetta, and Stevie Wonder among others. The Byrds' version was released in April 1965 as their first single on Columbia Records, reaching number 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the UK Singles Chart, as well as being the title track of their debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man. The Byrds' recording of the song was influential in popularizing the musical subgenres of folk rock and jangle pop, leading many contemporary bands to mimic its fusion of jangly guitars and intellectual lyrics in the wake of the single's success. Dylan himself was partly influenced to record with electric instrumentation after hearing the Byrds' reworking of his song.

Dylan's song has four verses, of which the Byrds only used the second for their recording. Dylan's and the Byrds' versions have appeared on various lists ranking the greatest songs of all time, including an appearance by both on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 best songs ever. Both versions received Grammy Hall of Fame Awards.

The song has a bright, expansive melody and has become famous for its surrealistic imagery, influenced by artists as diverse as French poet Arthur Rimbaud and Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. The lyrics call on the title character to play a song and the narrator will follow. Interpretations of the lyrics have included a paean to drugs such as LSD, a call to the singer's muse, a reflection of the audience's demands on the singer, and religious interpretations.



  1. The Byrds version is my favourite and brings back some significant memories! As with most Bob Dylan tunes, I prefer the cover over the original. ☺

  2. MMQE ~

    'Bringing It All Back Home' is one of my very favorite albums of all time and it definitely had an influence on the way I write. Also, although it's not one of my favorite songs on the aforementioned album, I consider 'Mr. Tambourine Man' to be one of only a few songs that qualifies as genuine poetry.

    On that same album is the song 'It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)'. The lyrics and the rhyming structure of that recording thoroughly blew my mind when I was in my late teens or early twenties. I still consider that to be perhaps the most impressive and influential bit of lyric writing ever penned. Even if Dylan had written nothing at all except for 'It's Alright, Ma', I'd still consider him the master lyricist.

    ~ D-FensDogG

  3. I saw the Byrds, twice, at this huge bar and was dancing a few feet from them. We lived it


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