Bob Dylan always had a special place in his heart for The Rolling Stones. Having seen their meteoric rise to prominence alongside his own, the two artists share a unique bond, one built around creativity, expression and the unrelenting desire to push forward a brave new approach to popular music.
Given their supreme impact on contemporary music, comparisons and debates around Dylan and The Stones have rolled on for decades. However, despite having worked up a healthy chart competition over the years, both have remained complementary of one another — for the most part, that is.
“The Rolling Stones are truly the greatest rock and roll band in the world and always will be,” Dylan once famously said of his contemporaries.
“The last too,” he added. “Everything that came after them, metal, rap, punk, new wave, pop-rock, you name it… you can trace it all back to the Rolling Stones. They were the first and the last and no one’s ever done it better.”
The feeling was very much mutual, as Stones guitarist Keith Richards once said of Dylan: “I’d work with Bob any(where). I’d work with Bob in hell or heaven. I love him.” Weighing in on the mutual love for Dylan, Stones frontman Mick Jagger went into detail about his admiration for the freewheelin’ troubadour, adding: “I was playing Bob Dylan records at my parents’ house when he was still an acoustic folk singer, but he was already very important and his lyrics were on point,” Jagger told The Guardian. “The delivery isn’t just the word; it’s the accentuation and the moods and twists he puts on them. His greatness lies in the body of work.”
Last year, as Dylan prepared to release his most recent album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, the musician was in a reflective mood as he peered into a modern musical landscape, one that has changed beyond belief since he released his debut album in 1962. However, some things remain the same and, as Dylan released new material, his old compatriots, The Rolling Stones, were announcing a world tour.
In ‘I Contain Multitudes’, Dylan’s most recent and expansive single, the musician namechecks The Stones while revisiting some of his contemporaries and historical figures, as he sings: “I’m just like Anne Frank, like Indiana Jones. And them British bad boys, The Rolling Stones.”
While speaking in a rare interview with The New York Times in promotion of his record, Dylan was asked to name any songs by The Stones that he wishes he had written himself: “Oh, I don’t know, maybe ‘Angie’, he said, before giving it some more thought:” ‘Ventilator Blues’ and what else, let me see. Oh yeah, ‘Wild Horses’.”
Of course, this is not the first time that Dylan has heaped praise on The Rolling Stones and, in an interview a few years back, he stated: “They’re far from finished,” Dylan said. “The Rolling Stones are truly the greatest rock and roll band in the world and always will be. The last too.”
Bob Dylan’s favourite songs by The Rolling Stones:
- ‘Wild Horses’
- ‘Ventilator Blues’
Read the full Dylan interview with New York Times here.