An interesting thing happens when an artist covers a song written by Bob Dylan: You can hear Dylan’s influence come through so clearly, it’s practically transparent. Second maybe only to The Beatles in how vast his sphere of influence is, Dylan has one of the most indisputable run of records in the history of the format. And that’s got to be intimidating. And yet, a LOT of artists cover his music, most recently on the soundtrack to the amazing looking new film I’m Not There. It makes complete sense that the movie’s soundtrack would consist of covers, since the movie itself consists of basically the acting equivalent of a cover song, with Dylan played by an assortment of different actors in a variety of different settings and ways.
When I listen to the songs below, I can’t help but think that none of these people would even exist without Dylan, and it comes through pretty loud and clear. All the artists try to peek out from under Dylan’s shadow (Sufjan most successfully I think), but they can’t top the original and so they seem like pretty pale imitations. All the songs are good, and I enjoy listening to them, but I never think that I’d rather listen to the cover. See what you think.
Another incentive to see the film: David Cross as Allen Ginsburg (!)
Jeff Tweedy – Simple Twist of Fate Sufjan Stevens – Ring Them Bells Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers – Ballad of a Thin Man (Buy It) Elliot Smith – Ballad of a Thin Man (Buy ES music)
And as a bonus, here’s Dylan and 4/5 of The Band bringing down the house at the monumental Royal Albert Hall concert:
Bob Dylan – Ballad of a Thin Man (Live) (Buy It)
posted by Adam