Friday Five: Bob Dylan Covers

Juli Thanki | May 24th, 2013

Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on this date in 1941. Narrowing down the thousands of Dylan covers that have been recorded over the past fifty years down to just five songs for this week’s post was no easy task. In fact, this easily could have been a Friday 500–and your favorite probably still wouldn’t be on the list–so we compiled a few more favorites in the Spotify playlist below. What’s your favorite Dylan cover?


5. Neko Case – “Buckets of Rain”

Case often covers this song from Blood on the Tracks during her shows. Or, at least the shows I’ve been to. Perhaps it’s sacrilege, but I like her vocal on this song better than Dylan’s.


4. Garth Brooks – “Make You Feel My Love”

Brooks’ version of the song topped the country charts and earned him a Grammy nomination.


3. Rosanne Cash – “Girl From the North Country”

Johnny Cash sang this song with Dylan on the Nashville Skyline album; 40 years later, his daughter recorded it for The List.


2. Tim O’Brien – “Forever Young”

O’Brien’s Red on Blonde is a damn fine record. This song is one of the highlights.


1. The Band – “I Shall Be Released”

Hands down, my favorite Dylan song, no matter who’s singing it.

  1. Jeremy Dylan
    May 24, 2013 at 8:35 am

    There are many choice Dylan covers out there, but my picks of the bunch would be The Byrds take on You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere and the Hendrix version of All Along the Watchtower.

    Also, Buddy Miller’s great rendition of With God On Our Side from his gospel record is up there.

  2. Jonathan Pappalardo
    May 24, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I’ve always liked Dixie Chicks version of “Mississippi,” which they released on their live album.

  3. Arlene
    May 24, 2013 at 9:13 am

    There are so many terrific ones to choose from but with the classics by The Band and Hendrix already mentioned, I’ll go with Emmylou’s cover of “Every Grain of Sand.”

  4. Jon
    May 24, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Now, I’ll tell you what, you missed one of the very best, which is the Country Gentlemen’s version of “Walking Down The Line.” The studio one seems not to be available on Amazon, but the live one is here:

    And then there’s this, from Tony Rice:

    Come on, now!

  5. Jon
    May 24, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Good call on “Ring Them Bells,” though.

  6. Juli Thanki
    May 24, 2013 at 9:27 am

    D’oh, in my undercaffeinated state, I forgot another one of my favorites, from Darrell Scott’s Modern Hymns:

  7. Daniel Mullins
    May 24, 2013 at 10:19 am

    How about The Seldom Scene’s “Boots of Spanish Leather”? That one is mighty hard to beat. One of my favorite Scene recordings.

  8. Daniel Mullins
    May 24, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Haha. I see it in the playlist now.

  9. Jack Williams
    May 24, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Buddy Miller – With God On Our Side

  10. Daniel Mullins
    May 24, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Some other must-haves include

    Tony Rice’s jazzy “Sweetheart Like You” (one of his performances on Me & My Guitar)

    Jerry Lee Lewis’ rockin’ “Rita May”

    The Earl Scruggs Revue ft Johnny Cash, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and The New Riders of the Purple Sage doing “Song for Woody”

  11. Leeann Ward
    May 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Happy to see the Randy Travis and Sara Jarosz covers, but another fave is Rodney Crowell/Emmylou Harris, “Shelter from the Storm.”

  12. Luckyoldsun
    May 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    For Dylan covers with impact, nothing surpasses the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

    As far as obscure ones, I happened to like Bobby Bare doing “Blowin In the Wind.”

  13. Arlene
    May 24, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Ummm? “For impact, nothing surpasses The Byrd’s cover of “Mr. Tamborine Man?”” How about Peter, Paul and Mary singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” right before Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” during the 1963 March on Washington?

    Other favorites:
    Nina Simone “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
    Odetta “Walkin’ Down The Line”
    Tracy Chapman “The Times They Are A-Changin'”
    Chris Smither w/Bonnie Raitt “Desolation Row”
    Jimmy LaFave “If Not For You”
    Steve Earle and Greg Trooper “I’ll Keep It With Mine”
    Shelby Lynne “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”
    Old Crow Medicine Show “Wagon Wheel”
    Gillian Welch and David Rawlings “Billy”
    Cowboy Junkies “License To Kill”

  14. Jack Williams
    May 24, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    Speaking of Chris Smither, he did a nice version of Visions of Johanna.

    Other favorites:

    Neville Brothers – The Ballad of Hollis Brown
    Vic Chesnutt – I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
    Jerry Garcia & David Grisman – The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
    The Band – Blind Willie McTell
    Susan Tedeschi – Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright and Lord Protect My Child
    Joan Osborne – The Man in the Long Black Coat
    Shawn Colvin – You’re Going to Make Me Lonesome When You Go
    Robyn Hitchcock – Trying to Get to Heaven
    Duke Robillard – Love Sick
    Tim O’Brien – Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)
    Nanci Griffith – Boots of Spanish Leather

  15. Paul W Dennis
    May 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    I guess my favorite would be George Hamilton IV’s version of “Forever Young” and The Byrd’s cover of Mr. Tambourine Man”

    Also doesn’t “Wagon Wheel” by Jeremy McComb or Darius Rucker)count as a Dylon cover ??

  16. Luckyoldsun
    May 24, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    That’s another big one.

  17. Matt
    May 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Wow! Great topic! Just by typing Dylan in my itunes then sorting by most plays….
    1. “Maggie’s Farm” – Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers (I’m Not There Soundtrack). My dog’s name is Maggie and we dance to this song once a week.
    2. Mississippi – Sheryl Crow (The Global Sessions) Recorded before Dylan and before the Dixie Chicks included it on their Fly Tour setlist, way back when Sheryl Crow was a reputable artist.
    3. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show (O.C.M.S.)
    4. One Too Many Mornings – Johnny Cash and the Avett Brothers (Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International)
    5. Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) – Willie Nelson feat Calexico (I’m Not There Soundtrack)

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