Sunday, May 22, 2011

BobFest: 15 Songs Dylan Has Covered

As anyone who's listened to his radio show knows, Bob is a top-notch musicologist. So this is a far from definitive list. There's an entire book devoted to running down all the various songs Dylan has covered over the years. A bootleg anthology (The Genuine Never Ending Tour Covers Collection) spanning just the years 1998-2000 runs to nine volumes. So what follows is an arbitrary review of what seems notable to me.

London Calling
Bob has only covered the definitive Clash number a couple of times, most recently during a stop in London. On his Theme Time Radio Hour, Bob mostly sticks with pre-1980 music, but tips his hat to punk and rap from time to time. .

Brown Sugar
I saw him do this in Phoenix a few years ago, and while it didn't sound much like the Stones version, it was definitely a crowd pleaser. Possibly a tribute to his second wife?

Accidentally Like a Martyr
One of several Warren Zevon songs Bob started playing around the time of Zevon's passing. He also recorded "Mutineer" for the Zevon tribute album  Enjoy Every Sandwich.

You Belong To Me
A lovely version of this, with one of Bob's finest recent vocals, appears on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. Okay, not all that recent.

People Get Ready
Bob has recorded three different versions of Curtis Mayfield's classic. One of them was released as a Renaldo & Clara promo disc.

Return to Me
Originally a hit for Dean Martin, Bob croons his sweet cover on the Sopranos soundtrack album, vol. 2

Red Cadillac and a Black Mustache
A truly fun track from a cool tribute album called Good Rockin' Tonight - The Legacy of Sun Records.

Broke Down Engine
In the early 90s Bob released two full albums of folk and blues covers. A highlight of the 1993 album World Gone Wrong, the original of this one was written by Blind Willie McTell.

Cocaine Blues
There are two very cool and very different versions of this, one recorded in 1962, the second in 1997. The latter is available on Tell Tale Signs.

My Blue Eyed Jane
From the 1996 album Songs Of Jimmie Rodgers: A Tribute.

Black Muddy River
Bob has done a number of other Grateful Dead songs (Alabama Getaway, Friend of the Devil, West LA Fadeaway) as a  tribute to his pal Jerry Garcia, and just because they're damned good songs, too. But this one's probably the best of the bunch.

During the same leg of the Never Ending Tour that included the Zevon and Stones covers, Bob paid tribute to the late great George Harrison.

Wade in the Water
Detractors of Dylan's singing should listen to this gospel track from the only-in-Japan release Live 1961-2000: Thirty-Nine Years of Great Concert Performances. That's a great performance.

This Old Man
Bob was known to show up at his grandchildren's preschool in Beverly Hills, guitar in hand, to toss off a few folky kids' songs. This is from the benefit album For Our Children, which is pricey to get ahold of, but you can get a 99-cent MP3 right here.

Spanish is the Loving Tongue
From the album that doesn't count, 1973's Dylan. It was released against his wishes, consisting of outtakes from Self Portrait, which as noted, was designed to be off-putting to Dylan fans. This album is even more so. But while this track is the best of a bad bunch, you probably don't need to hear it more than once.

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