5 Cover Songs That Bob Dylan Made Better
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Alan Messer/REX/Shutterstock (133333jj) DON McLEAN VARIOUS
Even after all these years, Bob Dylan remains an enigma. More than a legendary singer-songwriter, musician, and author, he’s also a pop culture icon. He’s the kind of artist who will not follow trends or what’s going to sell more. He’s always enjoyed his creative freedom and he has proven over and over again that he will do what he wants with his music. And throughout his career, he also covered songs from fellow rockstars.
Let’s check them out.
5. Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly)
The Rolling Stones and Rush both covered this classic. Bob Dylan featured it on his set at a concert at Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland on April 25, 1999. During Dylan’s mandatory lecture for his Nobel Prize, he spoke about seeing Holly on stage. He recalled, “Something about him seemed permanent and he filled me with conviction. Then out of the blue, the most uncanny thing happened, he looked at me right straight there in the eye and he transmitted something, something I didn’t know what. It gave me the chills.”
4. Something (The Beatles)
At a pair of Madison Square Garden shows in 2002, Dylan paid tribute to George Harrison by performing one of the Quiet Beatle’s most famous compositions – “Something”. Dylan once said about Harrison, “I’ve always liked the way George Harrison plays guitar – restrained and good.”
3. People Puttin’ People Down (John Prine)
In 1991, Dylan covered a John Prine original and Dylan even told MTV’s Bill Flanagan, “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs. I remember when Kris Kristofferson first brought him on the scene. All that stuff about Sam Stone the soldier junky daddy and Donald and Lydia, where people make love from ten miles away. Nobody but Prine could write like that. If I had to pick one song of his, it might be Lake Marie.” As for Prine, he was inspired by Dylan.
2. Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
One of Joni Mitchell’s most iconic tracks, Dylan tweaked the lyrics a bit and sang “A big yellow bulldozer took away the house and land.”
1. Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
Jeff Buckley may have recorded the definitive version but Dylan’s take on “Hallelujah” is just as magical. Dylan famously asked Leonard Cohen how long it took him to write this masterpiece and while it actually took Cohen five years, he told Dylan it was just two years. At a stop in Montreal, Dylan honored Cohen by playin the song. Dylan said, “It’s a beautifully constructed melody that steps up, evolves, and slips back, all in quick time. But this song has a connective chorus, which when it comes in has a power all of its own. The ‘secret chord’ and the point-blank I-know-you-better-than-you-know-yourself aspect of the song has plenty of resonance for me.”