I’m a sucker for cover tunes. I’m always curious to hear a fresh new take on a song, almost any song. It’s like a conversation between two artists, a nod, a wink, a genuflection. Sometimes it’s pure fun; other times, disastrous and ill-advised. Since Bob Dylan is my favorite songwriter, I’ve made a small hobby out of listening to cover versions of his songs. Below are some of my favorites.
Note: I’m taking this chronologically, according to the dates in which the original songs were written (not the dates of the cover versions). In some instances I might be wrong, since the origin of some tunes is open to debate. Also, I’m not saying these are the only great versions of Dylan songs; I decided not to make myself too crazy over this, or to make this list go on forever.
One last thing before I lose you to the scroll: If you are interested in Dylan covers, you need to check out this extraordinary data base of songs featured at Dylancover.com.
“Tomorrow Is a Long Time,“ Elvis Presley Honorable mention: Nick Drake, Nickel Creek.
“Blowin’ in the Wind,” Stevie Wonder
“Girl from the North Country,” The Lions Honorable Mention: Roseanne Cash, The Eels.
“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” Mavis Staples (from Bonus Disk, “No Direction Home” DVD)
“The Times They Are A-Changing,” Keb Mo Honorable Mention: Mason Jennings
“When the Ship Comes In,” Arlo Guthrie Honorable Mention: Marcus Carl Franklin.
“Percy’s Song,” Fairport Convention
“Spanish Harlem Incident,” James Mercer (The Shins)
“To Ramona,” The Flying Burrito Brothers
“It Ain’t Me Babe,” White Antelope (The Fleet Foxes) Honorable Mention: The Turtles.
“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Dave’s True Story
“Can’t Leave Her Behind,” Stephen Malkmus & Lee Ranaldo
“Like a Rolling Stone,” Drive-By Truckers Honorable Mention: The Creation.
“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” Nina Simone
“Positively Fourth Street,” Bryan Ferry
“Pledging My Time,“ Luther Johnson
“Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” Cat Power
“Absolutely Sweet Marie,” Flamin’ Groovies
“I’ll Keep It with Mine,” Marianne Faithful
“As I Went Out One Morning,” Mira Billote
“All Along the Watchtower,” Jimi Hendrix
“Wicked Messenger,” The Black Keys Honorable Mention: The Faces.
“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” Norah Jones
“To Be Alone with You,” Maria Muldaur
“Lay Lady Lay,” Magnet & Gemma Hayes
“Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You,” Ann Peebles
“If Not for You,” George Harrison
“Sign on the Window,“ Jennifer Warnes
“When I Paint My Masterpiece,” The Band Honorable Mention: Emmylou Harris
“Goin’ to Acapulco,” Jim James
“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” The Byrds
“I”m Not There,” Sonic Youth
“Billy,” Los Lobos Honorable Mention: Gillian Welch
“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” Antony and the Johnsons
“On a Night Like This,” Buckwheat Zydeco Honorable Mention: Los Lobos
“Forever Young (A Capella),“ Audra Mae & Forest Rangers Honorable Mention: Pretenders
“You Angel You,” New Riders of the Purple Sage
“Tangled Up in Blue,” Jerry Garcia Band Honorable Mention: Vitamin String Band
“A Simple Twist of Fate,” Mary Lee’s Corvette
“You’re a Big Girl Now,” Lloyd Cole Honorable Mention: The Go-Betweens
“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” Madeleine Peyroux
“Buckets of Rain,” Neko Case
“O Sister,” Andrew Bird
“Changing of the Guards,” Patti Smith
“Senor (Tales of Yankee Power),” Willie Nelson with Calexico
“New Pony,” The Dead Weather
“I Believe In You,” Sinead O’Connor Honorable Mention: Cat Power
“Pressing On,” John Doe
“Every Grain of Sand,” Emmylou Harris
“Dark Eyes,” Iron & Wine with Calexico
“Everything Is Broken,“ R. L. Burnside
“Make You Feel My Love,” Adele