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Regular readers know we love Bob Dylan covers. They also know we love collecting live covers in what we creatively call Live Collections. Well this is a live collection to beat them all. It’s 33 discs of live Dylan covers performed by, well, everybody!
No, we can’t take credit for this one. We love Dylan covers, but we also love sleeping and eating, and we can’t imagine the man who put this together had much time for either. This beast of a set was compiled at live music torrent site DimeaDozen by user jeffs98119. Titled Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan after some old Columbia Records ad copy, it collects over 500 legal, unreleased live covers. It’s a daunting set to say the least, so we checked in with Jeff to guide us through it.
“I’ve always enjoyed Dylan covers, because they let me hear songs I know and love in different ways,” he told us. “I used to fantasize with a friend about different tribute albums and artists who should cover particular songs (e.g. Springsteen, “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar;” George Harrison, “Precious Angel”; Leonard Cohen, “Slow Train”). When the web allowed me to collect a huge number of Dylan covers I just decided to live out my fantasy – minus the part where I get to hobnob with all the artists, make a lot of money, and get a thank you call from Dylan.”
After 33 volumes, we wondered if he’d had about enough. Where does it all end? “Who knows? I think I did try to stop after volume 12, and even sort of announced a hiatus after volume 24 (which I cleverly titled ‘Oh Mama, Can This Really Be the End?’), but then more cool stuff fell into my hands (Waylon Jennings doing ‘Things Have Changed’!) and I decided to revive the series. As long as I have versions of songs that I think add something to the original and are worth sharing, and as long as the web allows easy distribution, I’ll keep ’em coming.”
Without further ado, here is a selection from the 33-disc-and-counting series Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan. All songs were chosen as particular highlights by curator Jeff, and he gives us his notes on each. Enjoy, then go to Music Ruined My Life to download the full series (if you dare).
1. Alejandro Escovedo – Dark Eyes (Austin, TX, Oct. 1, 2004)
From Volume 1: Beginning to Hear Voices
Jeff says: “A lovely rendition that captures the mystery of one of Dylan’s lesser known masterpieces, the final cut on ‘Empire Burlesque.'”
2. Bruce Springsteen – I Want You (Bryn Mawr, PA, Feb. 5, 1975)
From Volume 3: The Lost Forgotten Years 1968-1976
Jeff says: “I first heard this in the early ’80s, on a vinyl bootleg called ‘You Can Trust The Man Who Wears the Star.’ My first chance to hear Springsteen covering Dylan! Lovely violin from Suki Lahav on her only tour with the E Street Band.”
4. Lou Reed – Foot of Pride (Amsterdam, Holland, Apr. 8, 1993)
From Volume 9: May Your Songs Always Be Sung
Jeff says: “Solo acoustic, perhaps the only time ever done this way, and as far as I know the only time done by Reed except at the Dylan 30th Anniversary show at Madison Square Garden.”
5. Tom Russell – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (Columbus, OH, Apr. 2, 2002)
From Volume 10: Next Time You See Me Comin’
Jeff says: “Russell lives on the El Paso-Juarez border and is a perfect match for this song of weird visions and psychic dislocation. Now if only he’d do “Red River Shore” and send me the recording!”
6. Robyn Hitchcock – Trying to Get to Heaven (Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 25, 2003)
From Volume 10: Next Time You See Me Comin’
Jeff says: “Hitchcock is one of the great interpreters of Dylan’s work and he inhabits the haunted heart of this ‘Time Out of Mind’ gem.”
7. John Wesley Harding – Dear Landlord (KCRW, Santa Monica, CA, Jul. 4, 1993)
From Volume 15: Odds and Ends
Jeff says: “One of the very nice people I’ve e-met doing this series is a fellow named Brian in England. He sent me a complete copy of ‘Oh Merci,’ a Dylan birthday tribute Harding did for KCRW in 1993, which I had taped only part of myself. Thanks mate!”
8. George Harrison – Abandoned Love (Demo, 1984)
From Volume 16: Yonder Stand Your Orphans
Jeff says: “When I was a teenager my whole world seemed to revolve around Dylan and the Beatles. I wore out my vinyl copy of ‘The Concert for Bangladesh.’ The Traveling Wilburys were like a dream come true. The intersection of Bob and George has deep personal meaning for me, and I love George’s version of this ‘Desire’ outtake, even if it can’t touch the original.”
9. Patti Smith – Changing of the Guard (New York, NY, Apr. 18, 2007)
From Volume 23: Buried in the Rocks
Jeff says: “Great song, horrible production on the ‘Street Legal’ original. Patti makes it sound like a ‘John Wesley Harding’ outtake, bringing out the sense of wonder that was always there in the song.”
10. T Bone Burnett – Tangled Up in Blue (KPFA Studios, Berkeley, CA, Feb. 24, 1994)
From Volume 25: You Can Always Come Back, But You Can’t Come Back All the Way
Jeff says: “This was mislabeled as ‘Simple Twist of Fate’ on the track list that came with the show. I was thrilled to get it and even more thrilled when it turned out to be a simple acoustic version of ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ instead. T Bone, of course, was on the Rolling Thunder Revue, allegedly turned Dylan on to Jesus, and never talks about Dylan.”