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Bob Dylan's favourite songs about money

Bob Dylan is a man that has, quite literally, done it all. A hero of the counterculture, poet, actor, visual artist and Nobel Prize winner for his books, the freewheeling troubadour has pushed boundaries of artist creation to its very limits and beyond. In addition to this, Dylan’s songs have also appeared in a host of classic movies, including Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and The Big Lebowski, adding yet another string to a bow like no other.

In terms of artistic enlightenment, you do not get much more accomplished than Minnesota’s favourite son. The effects of Dylan’s work have been so widespread that you could write a lengthy thesis on how transformative they have been on popular culture. That said, It would be wrong to claim that all of Dylan’s musical output has been of the highest order. However, you cannot doubt the importance of his most vital works, particularly his output in the early-mid 1960s.

Dylan’s sharp-witted intelligence pushed some commentators to question whether he is even of this realm at all, claiming that he might have followed in the footsteps of his hero, the great Robert Johnson, and sold his soul to a nefarious force in return for artistic gain. Although the last point is absurd, you get the picture. Dylan’s stature is immense, and the extent to which he is revered is unrivalled. 

In 2006, Dylan began hosting Theme Time Radio Hour, a weekly one-hour satellite radio show. Each episode had a freeform mix of music and was centred on themes such as ‘Weather’ or ‘Flowers’. Interestingly, much of the music used was pulled directly from producer Eddie Gorodetsky’s personal collection, making it feel as if you’re in his house, listening to Dylan discuss every topic under the sun. 

The original run lasted until 2009, and on the show, Dylan read fan emails, took listener phone calls, played vintage radio promos and jingles, told jokes, recited poetry, play taped messages from celebrities, and give his take on the music played. One of the best episodes, came in season three, and this was centred around the theme of ‘Money’.

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The episode begins with the epigram: “It’s night in the big city / A man says a prayer, puts down a $20 and rolls the dice / The faucet won’t stop dripping”. From there, the famously husky Dylan comes in with one of his rambling introductions: “Welcome to season three of Theme Time Radio Hour, and we’re glad to have ya,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of fun the last couple of years, presenting the greats and near-greats, the fondly remembered and the almost forgotten, performing a wide variety of music on a veritable cornucopia of subjects.”

Dylan continued: “But as we start season three, we’re gonna take our cue from a sign Harry S. Truman kept on his desk: ‘The Buck Stops Here’. And not just the buck, the yen, the sheckle, the nickel and dime, and if you still subscribe to the barter system, maybe a bushel of corn. So break open your piggy banks and cash in your bonds. This week’s episode of TTRH is most definitely cash and carry.”

For any Dylan fans who really wanted to get to know the multi-dimensional artist, this was the show for them. On this episode, Dylan listed all of his favourite songs about the green idol. A mix of classics and more obscure numbers, there’s cuts from Ray Charles, Van Morrison, Buddy Guy and even P Diddy. Of Van Morrison, he quips: “I almost think we play too much Van Morrison. Then I listen to one of his records, and I think, no we don’t”.

If anything, this is what the show was brilliant for. It was a clear reflection of just how sponge-like Dylan is when it comes to music. If his varied musical career wasn’t already enough to show that he’s into nearly every genre under the sun, then the radio show was. Through discussing a variety of musicians, he showed that he’s a true music fan, and isn’t afraid to discover new artists. 

This is the world Bob Dylan loves. Whilst many of his generation are settling comfortably into their old-age on a chair in front of the television, he’s living life. By examining music in such a left-field way, he presented us with a freeform podcast that was ten years ahead of the curve.

Dylan’s favourite songs about money:

  • Jerry McCain & His Upstarts – ‘That’s What They Want’
  • Louis Prima – ‘Pennies From Heaven’
  • Papa Charlie Jackson – ‘You Put It In, I’ll Take It Out’
  • Van Morrison – ‘Blue Money’
  • Ray Charles – ‘Greenbacks’
  • Mel Blanc – ‘Money’
  • Buddy Johnson and His Band – ‘It’s the Gold’
  • Nic Jones – ‘Farewell To The Gold’
  • Lefty Frizzell – ‘My Baby’s Just Like Money’
  • Buddy Guy (Amigo Hombre) – ‘100 Dollar Bill’
  • P Diddy (Featuring Lil’ Kim, The Lox, and the Notorious B.I.G.) – ‘It’s All About the Benjamins’
  • The Clovers – ‘Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash’
  • Jessie Price – ‘You Can’t Take It With You’
  • Moon Mullican & The Blue Ridge Playboys – ‘Gimme My Dime Back, Gimme My Money’
  • James Brown – ‘I’ve Got Money’
  • Eric ‘Monty’ Morris – ‘Penny Reel’
  • Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters – ‘Money Honey’
  • Johnny Dove and the Magnolia Playboys – ‘Lookin’ for Money’
  • Slim Harpo – ‘I Need Money (Keep Your Alibis)’
  • Everly Brothers – ‘Man with Money’
  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions – ‘Clean Money’
  • Johnnie Taylor – ‘Last Two Dollars’
  • Johnny Paycheck – ‘Down To My Last Dime’
  • Tiny Grimes – ‘Romance Without Finance’
  • The O’Jays – ‘For the Love of Money’
  • Johnny “Guitar” Watson – ‘You Can’t Take it With You’

Stream the full playlist, below.