Bob Dylan’s new album Rough and Rowdy Ways has debuted at no. 2 in the US Billboard 200. The album amassed 53,000 equivalent album units in the US to become Dylan’s highest charting album in over a decade.
The new album‘s top 40 chart debut also means Dylan is the first artist to have landed at least one album in the top 40 in every decade from the 1960s through to the 2020s. That’s a minimum of one top 40 album in each of the last seven decades. Rough and Rowdy Ways is Dylan’s 23rd top 10 album and it’s the 50th time one of his releases has made the top 40.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that of Rough and Rowdy Ways’ 53,000 equivalent album units, 51,000 are in traditional album sales.
Billboard has broken down Dylan’s chart success over the decades. He scored eight top 40 records in the 1960s; the era many continue to regard as his artistic heyday. It wasn’t his commercial peak, however, as he had a whopping 14 top 40 releases in the 1970s. He went on to achieve seven more in the ‘80s, four in the ‘90s, seven in the 2000s and nine in the 2010s.
Of course, the current decade is still a baby and so there’s plenty of time for other classic rock artists to join Dylan in this category. As it stands, however, Dylan has that area of chart history all to himself.
Rough and Rowdy Ways was preceded by the 17-minute single ‘Murder Most Foul’ – not exactly a commercial sure-thing. But in a most-Bob Dylan storyline, ‘Murder Most Foul’ topped Billboard‘s Rock Digital Song Sales chart, becoming his first no. 1 song on any Billboard chart.
“Were you surprised that this 17-minute-long song was your first No. 1 Billboard hit?” asked the New York Times‘ Douglas Brinkley in a recent interview. “I was, yeah,” replied a typically droll Dylan.