Tonight the 400 Club at Cedar Riverside on Minneapolis’ gigantically famous West Bank, is holding a Sing-Like-Bob Dylan Contest in honor of the great Minnesotan’s 70th birthday which is today.
For all those who can’t make it, the Washerman’s Dog has put together a set of choice cuts of tributes from other singers, rare Dylan performances and minor gems from the vast Zimmy Archives.
01 Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest [Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead recorded live in Eugene, Oregon 19-7-1987] The 1980s were dark days for Bob. His recordings were almost universally panned and he himself admitted to running out of inspiration. But his live shows were often very good and this upbeat version of this song has Dylan in fine energetic voice backed by a loving Grateful Dead.
02 Blind Willie McTell [Bob Dylan, outtake from Infidels 1983] Generally acknowledged as one his greatest songs ever. So why did he refuse to put it out for nearly a decade?
03 Desolation Row [Chris Smither, Train Home] It takes courage to try your hand at interpreting one of the most iconic of all Dylan songs, but this version by the folkie/bluesman from Boston is excellent. Less intense and urgent than the original but still powerful.
04 (Ghost) Riders In The Sky [Bob Dylan and George Harrison, New Morning Session -1 May 1971]. An amusing little ditty. Dylan covers this classic country/western song accompanied by George Harrison in a bootlegged recording. Complete with banter from the recording engineer suggesting various songs to Dylan. “I don’t remember the chords to it,” he says rejecting the request for Please Crawl Out Your Window!
05 Gotta Serve Somebody [Shirley Caesar, Masked and Anonymous] The Queen of Chicago gospel shouts and testifies her way through an amazing rendition of the opening track from Bob’s first ‘born-again’ album.
06 Guess Things Happen That Way [Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, Nashville 1969] Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan legitimized each other for the other’s audience in the late 60s. On this cover of one of Cash’s early hits Dylan is definitely the ‘student’ in the presence of the master.
07 Heart of Mine [Bob Dylan, Shot of Love] Though by this point in his career Dylan was considered by many former fans, a joke, this song from his third ‘born again’ album is a corker. Ringo on drums and Clapton on guitar. His peers obviously knew better than to write him off.
08 Idiot Wind [Bob Dylan, Bootleg Series Vol 1-3] My favorite version of one his bitterest put down songs. It’s slow and you hear every nasty word.
09 It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry [Chris Smither, Time Stands Still] Another lovely interpretation of a classic Dylan song. It’s his voice!
10 It's All Over Now Baby Blue [Jerry Garcia, Masked and Anonymous]. This 2003 movie by Bob was, as usual, panned. But also, as usual, produced some very good music such as this lilting version by Jerry, one of Bob’s greatest admirers.
11 Knockin' On Heaven's Door [Guns ‘n Roses, Greatest Hits]. I am not a fan of Axl Rose but hey, this is actually a creative and enjoyable version complete with black church choir to bring it on home.
12 Lay Lady Lay [Buddy Guy, Bring em In]. I am a big fan of Buddy Guy but was a bit nervous when I came across this track but like Axl above, he turns the most improbable country song into a true soulful blues.
13 Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts [Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks- Alternate Album] A less rollicking version than the one that made it on to Dylan’s greatest album but a nice insight into the development of the song.
14 My Back Pages [Magokoro Brothers, Masked and Anonymous] One of the more ‘out of left field’ covers of Dylan I’ve ever heard- sung in Japanese by the Magokoro Brothers. Weird (at first) but wonderful (thereafter).
15 One More Cup of Coffee [Sertab, Masked and Anonymous] The singer is Turkish but she sings in English and delivers a sultry cup of java.
16 Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) [Bob Dylan, Streets Legal]. A spooky fable told by the Master of it all.
17 Stepchild [Solomon Burke, Don’t Give Up on Me] Dylan wrote this song from Solomon who in return drops the man’s name at various points.
18 Trouble in Mind [Barbara Jungr, unknown album]. Time Out of Mind was a critical comeback and a dark, swampy album that did not strike an optimistic tone. This great re-working by England’s Barbara Jungr is fantastic.
19 Tweeter And The Monkey Man [Travelling Wilburys, Vol 1]. As the end of the 80s, (the lost decade) came to a close Dylan teamed up with old friends to make one of the funnest and at time funniest records of all time. This is one of the best songs from it.
20 Two Soldiers [Bob Dylan, World Gone Wrong] An impeccable and unexpected (at the time, early 1990s) performance of an old American civil war-era song.
21 What Was It You Wanted [Willie Nelson, Across the Borderline] Another get-lost quick song done with almost sufficient gravitas by another American musical champion.
22 With God on Our Side [Neville Brothers, Yellow Moon] Elegiac, somber and heavenly. Aaron Neville wraps up the show in style.
Happy Birthday Bob!