From Hank Williams to John Lee Hooker: Bob Dylan’s favourite songs about drinking
Bob Dylan has always been a bonafide treasure trove of incredible music. Usually composed by his own hand, the singer also possesses a near-encyclopaedic knowledge of folk and country music. It was a fact that he put to the test during his famed 2006 run as the host of his radio show, Theme Time Radio Hour.
The first season of the Theme Time Radio Hour, hosted by Bob Dylan, ran from May 3, 2006, to April 18, 2007 on XM Satellite Radio for a total of 50 shows. As one might imagine, each show had a distinct theme, ranging from ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ to musical instruments and a double episode on ‘Trains’. One particularly brilliant episode saw the singer pick out his 16 favourite songs about drinking. As the man himself put it songs about: “The world of liquid libation, booze, sauce, hooch, white lightning, fire water, hard stuff, pick me up, gin and juice, moonshine, canned heat.”
A subject that has become all too familiar for many of us trying to liven up lockdown nights, Bob Dylan has provided us with a searing playlist of songs about slinging back a few suds. The singer knows his stuff too, only recently did he release his own brand of bourbon known as ‘Heaven’s Door’, proving as well as some of the best folk credentials around, he also knows his way around a bottle or two.
While it could be easy to point oneself at the machismo energy of the eighties or even the swashbuckling seventies for the majority of their favourite songs about getting wasted, perhaps quite naturally, Dylan chose to look backwards for the majority of his favourite tunes or knocking back a few.
There are countless songs in this list that mean the world to Dylan but he chose to pick out a few, in particular, to share a few words on including Charles Aznavour’s ‘I Drink’ from 1995, showing his admiration and devotion to the artist he says: “Sings in six languages, French, English, Italian. He’s written over a thousand songs. I only know about half of them.”
Another track that gets a special mention in John Lee Hooker’s mammoth song ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’, the freewheelin’ singer says: “One of those guys that recorded under a thousand different names, John Booker being one, Johnnie Lee, The Boogie Boy, John Lee…one of those guys that always sounds better without a band…13 bars here, 11 bars there, 9 there, it doesn’t matter to him. Nobody can do more with less than John Lee Hooker. A band’s gotta hold on for dear life just to keep up.”
As part of the show, Dylan also shared his recipe for two of his favoured cocktails: a bourbon and coke as well as a classic Mint Julep, confirming that “Two or three of those and anything sounds good!” Luckily, we don’t need any libations to make this playlist sound good. It is rich, textured and smooth all at the same time and it won’t leave you with a hangover. Listen below to Bob Dylan’s favourite songs about drinking.
Bob Dylan’s favourite songs about drinking:
‘Ain’t Got no Money to Pay for this Drink’ – George Zimmerman and the Thrills
‘Wine, Wine, Wine’ – The Electric Flag
‘Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ – Loretta Lynn
‘Daddy and the Wine’ – Porter Wagoner & The Wagonmasters
‘I Drink’ – Mary Gauthier
‘I Drink’ – Charles Aznavour
‘Sloppy Drunk’ – Jimmy Rogers
‘I Ain’t Drunk’ – Lonnie The Cat
‘It Ain’t Far to the Bar’ – Johnny Tyler and His Riders of the Rio Grande
‘What’s On The Bar’ – Hank Williams Jr
‘One Mint Julep’ – The Clovers
‘Rum and Coca-Cola’ – The Andrews Sisters
‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’ – John Lee Hooker
‘Who Will Buy the Wine’ – Charlie Walker
‘Buddy Stay Off That Wine’ – Betty Hall Jones
‘Whiskey You’re The Devil’ – Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem