All 66 Songs Bob Dylan Writes About in ‘Philosophy of Modern Song’ Book Revealed: From Ray Charles to the Clash, Cher and the Eagles

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Bob Dylan was announced earlier this year as having written separate appreciations of more than 60 different songs for his forthcoming book, “The Philosophy of Modern Song.” Now, the names of all 66 songs he wrote about have been revealed, thanks to the dissemination of a table-of-contents page for the highly anticipated book, which comes out in early November via Simon & Schuster. (Read the full list below.)

Not surprisingly, classic songs written and/or recorded by Americans greats like Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Little Richard, Townes Van Zandt will come up for consideration. Less expectedly, Dylan will detour to analyze songs like Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” the Eagles’ “Witchy Woman,” the Fugs’ “CIA Man” and Rosemary Clooney’s “Come On-a My House.”

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An announcement in March said that the book will constitute “a master class on the art and craft of songwriting,” as Dylan “analyzes what he calls the trap of easy rhymes, breaks down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song, and even explains how bluegrass relates to heavy metal.” The announcement further declared that while the essays “are ostensibly about music, they are really meditations and reflections on the human condition.”

He plays some favorites among recording artists, if not necessarily songwriters themselves. There are four songs associated with Elvis Presley (“Money Honey,” “Blue Moon,” “Viva Las Vegas”), three made popular by Ray Charles (“Come Rain or Come Shine,” “I Got a Woman,” “You Don’t Know Me”) and two from the Frank Sinatra catalog (“Strangers in the Night,” “Without a Song”).

The oldest song on the list is Stephen Foster’s “Nelly Was a Lady,” written in 1849, followed by “The Whiffenpoof Song” from the early 1900s. Blues, R&B and hillbilly songs from the first half of the 20th century figure in heavily. But the majority of songs are from the ’50s through ’70s, a golden age for rock, pop, soul and country. He dips into the punk/new wave era for Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” and the Clash’s “London Calling.” The two most recent songs on the list are “It Doesn’t Hurt Anymore,” recorded by Regina Belle in 1989, and Warren Zevon’s “Dirty Life and Times,” from his 2003 farewell album “The Wind.”

One of the more surprising songs on the list may be the Eagles’ “Witchy Woman” — surprising if for no other reason that that, in a 2021 interview, Dylan cited three other Eagles songs as his favorites of the group’s: “New Kid in Town,” “Life in the Fast Lane” and “Pretty Maids in a Row” (the last of which he said “could be one of the best songs ever”). Dylan was being asked about it in the interview because his “Murder Most Foul” song had included the lines “Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey / Take it to the limit and let it go by.”

The chapter on “Pump It Up” could be an interesting one, since Costello freely admits it was inspired in part by Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” so it’ll be interesting to see whether the debt is acknowledged as part of the tribute.

Following is a list of song titles that are chapter titles in Dylan’s forthcoming book. The artists most associated with each song are listed in parentheses. It remains to be established whether Dylan will only consider Nina Simone’s original version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” or bring up the Animals’ or even Costello’s, for that matter. It’s likely the original Ernie K-Doe record of “A Certain Girl” that he loves, but given his affection for Warren Zevon, the latter artist’s cover version could come in for a mention, for all we know. Much more remains to be revealed when Dylan’s essays go public come November.

“Detroit City”
(Bobby Bare)
 
“Pump It Up”
(Elvis Costello & the Attractions)
 
“Without a Song”
(Frank Sinatra)
 
“Take Me From This Garden of Evil”
(Jimmy Wages)
 
“There Stands the Glass”
(Webb Pierce)
 
“Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me”
(Billy Joe Shaver)
 
“Tutti Frutti”
(Little Richard)
 
“Money Honey”
(Elvis Presley)
 
“My Generation”
(The Who)
 
“Jesse James”
(Harry McClintock)
 
“Poor Little Fool”
(Ricky Nelson)
 
“Pancho and Lefty”
(Townes Van Zandt)
 
“The Pretender”
(Jackson Browne)
 
“Mack the Knife”
(Bobby Darin)
 
“The Whiffenpoof Song”
(Rudy Vallee)
 
“You Don’t Know Me”
(Ray Charles)
 
“Ball of Confusion”
(The Temptations)
 
“Poison Love”
(Johnnie & Jack)
 
“Beyond the Sea”
(Bobby Darin)
 
“On the Road Again”
(Willie Nelson)
 
“If You Don’t Know Me by Now”
(Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes)
 
“The Little White Cloud That Cried”
(Johnnie Ray)
 
“El Paso”
(Marty Robbins)
 
“Nelly Was a Lady”
(Stephen Foster)
 
“Cheaper to Keep Her”
(Johnnie Taylor)
 
“I Got a Woman”
(Ray Charles)
 
“CIA Man”
(The Fugs)
 
“On The Street Where You Live”
(From “My Fair Lady”)
 
“Truckin'”
(The Grateful Dead)
 
“Ruby, Are You Mad?”
(The Osborne Brothers)
 
“Old Violin”
(Johnny Paycheck)
 
“Volare”
(Domenico Modugno)
 
“London Calling”
(The Clash)
 
“Your Cheatin’ Heart”
(Hank Williams)
 
“Blue Bayou”
(Roy Orbison)


“Midnight Rider”
(The Allman Brothers Band)

“Blue Suede Shoes”
(Carl Perkins)

“My Prayer”
(The Platters)

“Dirty Life and Times”
(Warren Zevon)

“Doesn’t Hurt Anymore”
(Regina Belle)

“Key to the Highway”
(Little Walter)

“Everybody Cryin’ Mercy”
(Mose Allison)

“War”
(Edwin Starr)

“Big River”
(Johnny Cash)

“Feel So Good”
(Shirley & Lee)

“Blue Moon”
(Elvis Presley)

“Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves”
(Cher)

“Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy”
(Uncle Dave Macon)

“It’s All in the Game”
(Tommy Edwards)

“A Certain Girl”
(Ernie K-Doe)

“I’ve Always Been Crazy”
(Waylon Jennings)

“Witchy Woman”
(Eagles)

“Big Boss Man”
(Jimmy Reed)

“Long Tall Sally”
(Little Richard)

“Old and Only in the Way”
(Charlie Poole)

“Black Magic Woman”
(Santana)

“By the Time I Get to Phoenix”
(Glen Campbell)

“Come On-a My House”
(Rosemary Clooney)

“Don’t Take Your Guns to Town”
(Johnny Cash)

“Come Rain or Come Shine”
(Ray Charles)

“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
(Nina Simone)

“Strangers in the Night”
(Frank Sinatra)

“Viva Las Vegas”
(Elvis Presley)

“Saturday Night at the Movies”
(The Drifters)

“Waist Deep in the Big Muddy”
(Pete Seeger)

“Where or When”
(Dion and the Belmonts)

Bob Dylan’s ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song’ table of contents
Bob Dylan’s ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song’ table of contents

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