Without Bob Dylan, or The Rolling Stones, it wouldn’t just be the musical landscape that would look staggeringly more vanilla — life itself wouldn’t be as kaleidoscopic without their breathtaking work.
Unsurprisingly, the two acts have shed loads of respect for each other, having both been constants as the music industry transformed into many different beasts over the last 60 years. While almost entirely everything within the industry has changed in front of their very eyes, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones are forefathers who remain the gold standard for artistry.
“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. It’s hard to disagree with that statement. After all, The Rolling Stones created the blueprint for what a great rock ‘n’ roll band should sound and act like.
“The last too,” Dylan 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.” It’s hard to disagree, the band wrote the blueprint for rock acts in their heyday and have stuck close by it ever since.
The love between Dylan and The Stones is resolutely a two-way street, with Keith Richards saying in 2016, “I’d work with Bob any[where]. I’d work with Bob in hell or heaven. I love him.”
“I want to thank Bob Dylan for an amazing set,” Mick Jagger said in 2016 when the two co-headlined Desert Trip Festival in California. “We have never shared the stage with a Nobel Prize winner before. Bob is like our own Walt Whitman.”
Last year as Dylan geared up to release Rough and Rowdy Ways, the legendary songwriter spoke about his kinship with The Rolling Stones and even named his favourite songs by the group. “Maybe ‘Angie,’ ‘Ventilator Blues’ and what else?” Dylan replied to the New York Times before adding, “Oh yeah, ‘Wild Horses.'”
Ever since The Stones shared ‘Angie’ in 1973, the meaning behind the effort got the rumour mill operating firmly in overdrive, speculating on who Mick Jagger had in his mind when he penned the track. Although, Jagger later dismissed this rumour and said it was an ode to Richards’ daughter, despite the fact she wasn’t born when the song was released. Richards later said in his autobiography Life that he just liked the name, and it fit perfectly into the song, noting: “In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out.”
‘Ventilator Blues’ is more of a deep-cut than Dylan’s other admissions and proves that he’s no fairweather Stones fan. The Exile On Main St. track is one of only two Stones songs in which former guitarist Mick Taylor is credited as a songwriter, and his paw-prints are etched all over it.
Richards once opened up on how they managed to create the startling track, stating: “On’ Ventilator Blues’ we got some weird sound of something that had gone wrong – some valve or tube that had gone. If something was wrong, you just forgot about it. You’d leave it alone and come back tomorrow and hope it had fixed itself. Or give it a good kick.”
If ‘Wild Horses’ didn’t get a mention by Dylan, then it would be a grave omission, and the validity of the list would be questionable. As a listener, hearing Jagger pour everything he’s got into ‘Wild Horses’ still hits the spot like when you first heard it and feeling just as emotional as Jagger did when he stepped foot into the booth.
Check out the time that Dylan performed in Rio with the assistance of The Stones below.
Bob Dylan’s favourite Rolling Stones songs
- ‘Ventilator Blues’
- ‘Wild Horses’