Hong Kong gigs

Five Bob Dylan songs fans will be hoping to hear at his Hong Kong concert next month

Dylan will perform at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre next month, seven years after his last appearance in the city. Here are some of his classic tunes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 July, 2018, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 July, 2018, 1:00pm

He is been a long time gone, but the most influential man in popular music is coming back to Hong Kong for a concert on August 4.

Bob Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour” – which began rolling 30 years ago – thunders into the city for the first time since 2011, and again he’ll be bringing his catalogue of world-changing protest songs, love songs, folk songs, jazz songs and even some pop songs spanning almost six decades.

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Although he has hundreds to choose from, we’ve selected the best five of the tracks he most regularly performs. And even if he doesn’t play your favourite, you’ll still be witnessing a one-of-a-kind spectacle, because Dylan treats his songs as pieces of art still in the works, meaning he never plays them the same way twice.

1. Tangled Up in Blue

Dylan dealt with the disintegration of his marriage to Sara Lownds in the 1970s the only way he knew – in song. Blood on the Tracks sets the standard for break-up albums and the opening track of the 1975 album, Tangled Up on Blue, with its rolling country lilt contains some of the most heartbreaking verses you’ll hear this side of a Shakespeare tragedy.

2. Desolation Row

All life is here before you, on Desolation Row, Dylan’s near-10-minute extended poem whose meaning fans have squabbled over for decades.

On the face of it, the 1965 song paints a gloomy picture of a dying town and its seedy denizens. But it’s loaded with so much symbolism and references – both highbrow and low – that pinning just one interpretation to it does this modernist classic an enormous injustice.

3. Ballad of a Thin Man

Another epic poem rich with Dylan’s telltale symbols and ciphers, this sneering inquisition of a bourgeois interloper into the singer’s bohemian life has long been a live favourite. While its meaning is a little easier to comprehend, debate has raged over the identity of the song’s hapless victim, Mr Jones. The conversation has been muddied, however, by the author’s reluctance to give anything but opaque answers when questioned on who it might be.

4. Blowin’ in the Wind

This song, which has become the go-to soundtrack for everything from anti-war movements to civil rights protests, is another of Dylan’s classics whose meaning has been allowed to mutate over time because its author refuses to explain it. Nevertheless, its relentless questioning of what it takes to be free and its “how many roads must a man walk down” opening lyric has stirred political causes for generations, and doubtless will continue to do so for decades more.

5. Like a Rolling Stone

Before the hippies were tuning in, turning on and dropping out, Dylan was getting angry and dispirited.

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In one of rock’s most influential tracks, Dylan set the notion of escaping the life society maps out for us in a sneering call to arms – an exhortation to reject the expectations placed on us and instead become anonymous, and free.