1970’s Self Portrait realigned Bob Dylan with his roots and once again awakened his genius as an interpreter of song. Dylan’s covers of songs by Paul Simon, Gordon Lightfoot, Frank Beddoe and others would divide opinion, but by shunning the hippie masses he’d unwittingly inspired with 18th century ballads and folk curios, he could focus on the ancient art of song-swapping and song-collecting: he did, after all, consider himself to be a real Song and Dance Man. With Another Self Portrait (1969 - 1971): The Bootleg Series – Vol. 10 almost upon us (it's out next week) we thought it was time to reverse polarities and look at some of the best covers of his songs to have emerged over the decades. This is by no means a definitive list, rather the Dylan covers we dig the most at the moment.
Mr. Tambourine Man
Recorded at the beginning of 1965 and announced via that crystalline Rickenbacker intro from Roger McGuinn, The Byrds' electric take on Dylan's hallucinatory tale quickly became the quintessential folk-rock Number 1.
Jim James & Calexico
Goin' To Acapulco
The best track from Todd Haynes' multiple-Bob crypto-biopic I'm Not There. My Morning Jacket's Jim James does a beautiful job of emulating the uncanny keen of Dylan/Danko/Manuel in harness. Why a giraffe? Why not?
Love Is A Four Letter Word
One of the best Dylan impressionists in the world, Bob's Greenwich Village confidante recorded this track for her 1968 album Any Day Now. Here she is performing the song in her kitchen for Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home.
All Along The Watchtower
Hendrix loved, loved, loved Bob Dylan. So much so that he arguably arranged the definitive version of this song, performed here at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970.
You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
Playful, erotic jazz-vocal saunter around Blood On The Tracks' blast of sunshine. What next, Diana Krall does Idiot Wind?
I Shall Be Released
The Band were the hirsute Woodstock hermits who accompanied Dylan on his infamous 1966 tour. With a gorgeously cracked vocal from Richard Manuel, their take on this twilit hymn was included on their game-changing debut Music From Big Pink.
Julie Driscoll & The Brian Auger Trinity
This Wheel's On Fire
Gothic take on the moody Basement Tapes tune, with eyeliner to spare: the version that inspired Siouxsie Sioux. Note that due to the amount of smoke in this clip, it's highly likely something is actually on fire.
Johnny Cash & June Carter
It Ain't Me Babe
In 1965, It Ain't Me Babe became a hit for both Cash and The Turtles. Here is MOJO's current cover star and bona fide rock'n'roll/country legend performing the song with his wife June in 1968. Listen for a shout-out to Dylan's new-born son, Jesse.
Blowin' In The Wind
Wright's soul reawakening of this 1962 classic adds a exhilarating dose of swinging Southern soul to Dylan's Greenwich Village folk anthem.
This joyous pop anthem gave Manfred Mann their third UK Number 1 when it was released during the winter of 1968. Check out Beatle pal Klaus Voormann on woodwind and bass.
There are, of course, many, many more great Dylan covers to choose from. In fact, just as we were about to post this list we thought of the genius of Nina Simone's Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues, Bryan Ferry's A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall, Sonic Youth's I'm Not There, George Harrison's If Not For You and Fairport Convention's Percy Song.
What are your favourites? Let us know below!