Five fantastic and ridiculously underrated Bob Dylan love songs

The best Dylan tracks about the greatest emotion.
Jay Dickman/GettyImages
3 of 5


From the monumental Blonde on Blonde album, this equally monumental love song plays with the contrast between the lover who is present – Louise – and the one who is missing – Johanna. The lyrics, declared by no less than British Poet Laureate Andrew Motion to be the greatest ever written in a pop song, are endlessly visual and sensual and, as with so much of Dylan, debatable.

Louise is here and available, but the singer is still haunted by Johanna (as we all are in this song, to be honest). As the track concludes, “The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain – And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain.”

Is this to be taken literally about a missing lover? Is it about the artist constantly tortured by what he can’t quite put onto his canvas? Is it about the human inability to simply take Steven Stills' advice and “love the one you’re with?” Yes, all of the above.

The song was famously written during a blackout, and ghostlike and shadowy imagery stalks the singer and listener alike. It was also written as Dylan was leaving girlfriend Joan Baez for soon-to-be-wife Sara Lownds. (More on her shortly.)