The Museum of Classic Chicago Television / YouTube
Written in 1965 and featured on Bob Dylan’s fifth studio album Bringing It All Back Home, “Mr. Tambourine Man” was taken to strange new heights three years later when actor William Shatner covered it for his debut album, The Transformed Man. Where other artists have more or less stayed to the original blueprint that gave way to one of Dylan’s most loved works, Shatner dared to be different – turning the bright, expansive Grammy Hall of Famer into a spoken word piece delivered with an element of melodrama that makes for an absolutely hilarious listening experience.
Fun Fact: In the decades since its release, most of Shatner’s covers have been used satirically, either on compilation albums meant to showcase bad celebrity singing or by radio disc jockeys looking for laughs.
Sure, “Mr. Tambourine Man” starts off innocently enough, with a lounge style swing to it, the backing band and singers tackling the melody and chorus but it’s when Shatner jumps in that the song takes a turn for the hilarious, his vocal delivery walking the fine line between earnestness and hysteria before skipping both and making a beeline straight for the ridiculous. If you weren’t laughing before, you will be when a tortured and deeply conflicted Shatner begins to shout near the end of the song before waking from his fever dream screaming, “MR. TAMBOURINE MAN!”
Nearly 50 years on, we’re pleased to report that like a fine, fine wine, Shatner’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” cover has aged beautifully and is every bit as funny as you remember it being. Enjoy!