Lou Reed is one of the most influential singers, songwriters, and musicians of the latter half of the twentieth century. Performing in the band The Velvet Underground and producing hits like ‘Pale Blue Eyes’, ‘Sweet Jane’, and ‘After Hours’, in addition to his own solo work, Lou Reed is indisputably one of the most prolific and universally-loved artists to date.
Even if you aren’t the most well-versed in his work, you’ll likely know it when you hear it. His songs have been used in a number of films, been covered countless times, and are simply everywhere in the cultural consciousness.
The same thing can be said of another artist who happens to be among Lou Reed’s favourites—Bob Dylan. Much like Reed, Dylan has an iconic discography that spans decades. With songs like ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and ‘End of the Line’, his music is recognizable anywhere, across generations.
With both musicians experiencing plenty of career wins throughout the 60s and 70s, there was quite a period of crossover. Reed was a huge fan of Dylan, mentioning his appreciation for his music many times. “I always go out and get the latest Dylan album,” Reed once said of Dylan. “Bob Dylan can turn a phrase, man. Like his last album [Down in the Groove], his choice of songs. ‘Going 90 miles an hour down a dead-end street’ — I’d give anything if I could have written that. Or that other one, ‘Rank Strangers to Me.’ The key word there is rank.”
Reed also said of Bob Dylan, “Dylan continuously knocks me out… the kind of phrasing that knocks me out is Dylan’s. For language, Dylan kills me to this day.”
When listing his favourite songs, it’s unsurprising that Bob Dylan makes it onto the list multiple times. Curious about what Bob Dylan songs the icon loves the most? Check out these tracks to feel a little closer to both artists!
Lou Reed’s favourite Bob Dylan songs:
‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’
This song comes in with that signature twang, piled into a full band piece with its swinging pace and quick run time. It’s no surprise that Lou Reed found himself drawn to this one, as you can absolutely hear the influence with some of his Velvet Underground and solo work.
The lyrics are also out-there and fun, with the lyric video bringing a vintage twist to the standard lyric videos we’ve long been used to.
‘It’s Alright Ma’
With more stripped-down western guitar and clearer vocals, this minor-toned track veers in a slightly different direction than Reed’s first favourite. And with hard-hitting lyrics like, “From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn/ Plays wasted words, proves to warn/ That he not busy being born is busy dying,” Lou Reed has every reason to love this one.
If I listed this song’s brilliant lyricism out, you’d be here all day, especially as this song has plenty of verses to savour.
‘Foot of Pride’
This is a Bob Dylan song with some Lou Reed flair if there ever was one. With the rock-driven instrumentation and slight edge in his voice, it should come as no surprise that Lou Reed latched onto this one.
In fact, Lou Reed loved this song so much that he covered it, playing it live at many of his shows, including at New York City’s Madison Square Garden in 1992.