Apr 282010
 

It seems every week a new “Best Dylan Covers Ever” article surfaces, but each new list reads much like the last.  Hendrix tops it (fair enough) and Peter, Paul and Mary and the Byrds follow behind (really?).  At Cover Me we like to break out of the mold though, so let us present the second and final installment of The Best Dylan Covers You’ve (Probably) Never Heard.  This week we tackle songs Dylan recorded after his fabled 1966 motorcycle crash.

Barb Jungr – Things Have Changed
Dylan’s past few albums signaled a comeback, the legendary songwriter finally matching his sharp songwriting with smart production.  His greatest song since the ‘70s can’t be found on them though, but rather as an Oscar-winning one-off for the Wonder Boys soundtrack.  [Buy]

World Wide Message Tribe – Precious Angel
True, Dylan’s widely reviled born-again period inspired a lot of Armageddon preaching from the stage, but it also sewed the seeds of the most successful dance cover of a Dylan tune to date.  [Buy]

Giant Sand – All Along the Watchtower
Once the most recognizable three chords in rock hit, Giant Sand deliver a somewhat conventional cover.  But it takes sixty seconds of cello feedback to get there.  [Buy]

Elliott Murphy – Blind Willie McTell
Mark this one as one of the best live covers of all time.  Discoveries like this utterly brilliant acoustic duet reward obsessive bootleg collectors.  [Buy]

The Everly Brothers – Abandoned Love
Dylan recorded this song in 1975, but it didn’t see official release until a mediocre studio recording on 1985’s Biograph collection (track down his 1975 live version at the Bitter End for the definitive reading).  That fantastic chord progression makes it a cover favorite, with everyone from George Harrison to Chuck Prophet having a go.  [Buy]

Townes Van Zandt – Man Gave Names to All the Animals
Many fans would rank this song up with the worst songs Dylan has ever written.  And it would be, except for that final line that turns all the nursery rhyme verses on their head.  Dylan’s least ambitious Christian song may just be his most powerful.  [Buy]

Thea Gilmore – I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
Gilmore turns up on just about every covers CD Britain’s Uncut magazine compiles, delivering superb performances of The Clash and the Boss.  This artist boasts some serious folk cred though; Joan Baez hand-picked her to open a tour and covered Gilmore’s “The Lower Road” on her latest album.  [Buy]

Delta Cross Band – Legionnaire’s Disease
What, you don’t know “Legionnaire’s Disease”?  Well, a recording of Dylan performing it has never surfaced.  Written after a 1976 outbreak of the infectious bacteria known technically as Legionellosis, Dylan handed it off to Billy Cross, his guitar player from 1977-79.  [Buy]

Richie Havens – License to Kill
Havens has spent his career covering Dylan — witness his cameo in I’m Not There.  His signature guitar tuning and strumming pattern takes the fore, laying the weight of the world upon a mediocre lyric.  [Buy]

Tim O’Brien – Father of Night
O’Brien’s Red on Blonde covers album is one of the best out there, giving tunes from the famous (“Forever Young”) to the obscure (“Lay Down Your Weary Tune”) jaunty bluegrass rhythms.  [Buy]

Read Part 1: Before the Crash.

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  5 Responses to “The Best Dylan Covers You’ve (Probably) Never Heard: After the Crash”

Comments (3) Pingbacks (2)
  1. That song "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" has a story behind it. Regina McCrary, one of Dylan's singers during the gospel tours (1979-1981), also sang on the Slow Train Coming album. Her 3-year-old son, Tony, was in the studio and after hearing a playback of it was laughing and absolutely loved it. After hearing Tony's response, Dylan decided it would be on the album…

    Fast forward over 20 years, and Regina's only son, Tony, was tragically murdered–a young man only in his twenties. Folks who follow Dylan know he's recorded more than one children's song in his day, and I always think of "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" as Tony McCrary's song. Whenever I hear someone say it's a throwaway, I know the back story. Incidentally, an illustrated children's book, "Man Gave Names to All the Animals," is being published later this year, a book with Dylan's official lyrics in it (another book like this was published back in 1999).

  2. I nominate Memphis Blues Again (Mud Boy & The Neutrons) and Chimes of Freedom (Youssou N'Dour).

  3. As a Dylan obsessive, my favorite cover is Jerry Jeff Walker’s “One Too Many Mornings” one of the few I like better than the original. Also, John Doe’s “Pressing On” and Jason and the Scorcher’s “absolutely Sweet Marie”

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