The iconic Bob Dylan brings his global tour to Grand Rapids Saturday. Today, Dylan fan and singer-songwriter Nicholas James Thomasma reveals a compelling roster of Dylan songs covered by other artists.
Bob Dylan has few rivals when it comes to the title of “America’s greatest living songwriter.”
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The 82-year-old rock and folk legend brings his worldwide “Rough and Rowdy Ways” tour to Grand Rapids’ DeVos Performance Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday for which only “verified resale tickets” are available here.
Of course, Dylan’s songs have influenced generations of musicians over his six-decade-long career, leading to countless cover versions of those commanding tunes.
In honor of his Grand Rapids show, longtime Dylan fan, singer-songwriter and occasional Local Spins contributor Nicholas James Thomasma has assembled the “ultimate” Top 10 playlist of Dylan covers featuring a wide range of artists and styles.
Scroll down for the Spotify playlist, enjoy the musical ride and come back this weekend for Thomasma’s take on Dylan’s Saturday night tour stop. And if you have a favorite Dylan cover, add it to the comments below.
MORE DYLAN NEWS: Bob Dylan is Mixing Up His Setlist to Honor Local Heroes in Every City (Rolling Stone)
Joan Baez’s Bob Dylan Epiphany (Los Angeles Times)
BOB DYLAN COVERS: The Ultimate Local Spins Playlist
1. Jim James and Calexico, “Goin to Acapulco” – The soundtrack to “I’m Not There” is better than the movie, but the shining gem of both is the scene where Jim James and Calexico appear and sing this fantastic horn-laden ballad while a young woman is presented in a funeral procession. It stuck with me.
2. Grateful Dead, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” – The Grateful Dead played 32 different Bob Dylan songs throughout the course of their career making them, in my opinion, the best Bob Dylan cover band ever.
3. Sheryl Crow, “Mississippi” – I bought Sheryl Crow’s third album the day it came out. I remember when this song came on I thought “this sounds like a Bob Dylan song.” Lo and behold, she released her version three or four years before Bob’s version came out. By then, I could only think of it as a Sheryl Crow song.
4. Billy Strings, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” – I always thought Dolly Parton sang the best version of “Don’t Think Twice” until I saw Billy pick it backstage a few years back. His playing is lightning fast and yet it doesn’t detract from the long development of the sad story unfolding. I was speechless and watched it again and again.
VIDEO: Billy Strings, “Don’t Think Twice”
5. Adele, “Make You Feel My Love” – This song is obvious. It’s one of the greatest love songs of all time. It’s been covered by Garth Brooks, Billy Joel and countless others with something like 600 versions on Spotify. Adele’s version stood my hair up and made me weep.
6. Sophie Zelmani, “I’ll Remember You” – I first heard this song on a burned CD with no label. It broke me. I’d never heard of Sophie Zelmani before or since, but I adore her voice and her treatment of this song is exceptional.
7. The Byrds, “Mr. Tambourine Man” – Not my favorite song. Not my favorite band. But if you hear a Bob Dylan song on the radio or in the grocery store or while you’re waiting on hold, nine times out of 10 it will be this delightfully peppy and short version of such an incredibly long and confusing song. A big part of Dylan’s success is due to artists covering him and this one deserves to be included for that reason.
8. Jerry Garcia Band, “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” – This haunting ballad is classic slow Jerry. The desperate lyrics and somber tone create a thickness for Jerry’s incredible guitar skills to soar over.
9. Dolly Parton, “Don’t Think Twice” – As I said, Dolly’s version of “Don’t Think Twice” has long been one of my favorites. Her sweet melodic warble is enough to bring a man to his knees. It’s soothing and soul crushing to hear Dolly sing the line “You just kinda wasted my precious time, but don’t think twice it’s all right.”
10. Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower” – You can’t make a list of Bob Dylan covers and not include “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix. Dylan himself has called it the definitive version. I don’t believe he has said that about any other artist covering his songs.
THE TOP 10 BOB DYLAN COVERS: The Local Spins Playlist on Spotify
(Listen to the Billy Strings version of “Don’t Think Twice” on YouTube above.)
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