By Chris Moore:
With some sources placing Bob Dylan as the #2 most covered artist (behind the Beatles, of course), there are some excellent performances of his songs.
Predominantly, though, there are hundreds and hundreds of inferior versions of his work, ranging from mediocre all the way down to openly offensive.
As a Dylan fan now for over a decade, I have accumulated quite a number of covers. Folk? I have it. Bluesgrass? Regrettably, yes. Gospel? You betcha! Reggae? For reals.
Suffice it to say, there’s some utter crap.
I’ve been thinking for weeks now about putting together a playlist of my favorite Dylan covers. Finally, after coming across a Jimi Hendrix recording of “Tears of Rage” on iTunes today, I sorted through the archives and pieced together eighteen of my favorite recordings. For those who don’t know me, you should understand that I’m often the guy who will remind you that, “This song was actually written by…” or ask you, “Have you ever heard the original?” So, for me to say I love these songs means that they’ve truly made the cut for me.
And I hope you’ll enjoy them as well!
The artists are as wide ranging as George Harrison and Beck. They go back as far as the sixties, with a sampling of classics by the original masters of the Dylan cover the Byrds, and are as recent as the Dead Weather, that super-ish-group co-fronted by Jack White. In the case of the former, I love the Dylan versions about as much as Roger McGuinn and company’s, but in the case of the latter, a forgettable Street Legal track was revived and successfully reimagined.
There are some that you absolutely must listen to the originals – “Simple Twist of Fate” for one, and “Born in Time” for another (that is, if you find the Bootleg Series version). There are some that are, frankly, better as covers – I’m thinking of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” here.
So, go explore. Visit Amazon and iTunes. Expand your Dylan horizons. And, most of all, remember why Bob Dylan was, is, and forever shall be the freakin’ man.
1) “Mr. Tambourine Man” – The Byrds
2) “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” – Beck
3) “All Along the Watchtower” – Jimi Hendrix
4) “If Not for You” – George Harrison
5) “Mama You’ve Been on My Mind / A Fraction of Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie” – Jack Johnson
6) “Masters of War” – Pearl Jam
7) “New Pony” – The Dead Weather
8) “Simple Twist of Fate” – Jeff Tweedy
9) “My Back Pages” – The Byrds
10) “Absolutely Sweet Marie” – George Harrison
11) “Tears of Rage” – Jimi Hendrix
12) “I Shall Be Released” – The Band
13) “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” – Eric Clapton
14) “Mississippi” – Sheryl Crow
15) “John Wesley Harding” – Wilco
16) “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” – The Byrds
17) “Born in Time” – Eric Clapton
18) “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” – Warren Zevon