Dylan, perhaps more than any other artist in living memory, has embodied the role of the poet philosopher wholeheartedly. The folk maestro has a song and an opinion on just about anything you could imagine, so it only makes sense that one of his most beloved tracks is about death.
Originally written for the 1973 film Pat Garret and Billy the Kid, the mournful ballad plays over a scene in which a character is fatally wounded in a shootout and slowly begins to edge towards the pearly gates. Minor spoiler alert, apologies.
From its understated gospel influence to the reflective lyrics that talk of a mounting darkness, the song has an almost religious quality to it, and even by Dylan’s own inimitable standards, it carries a humbling profundity.
Subsequent covers from the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Eric Clapton would bring a newfound sense of spectacle to the track, but the original is still the most hauntingly beautiful by quite some distance.