“Did you know that Wagon Wheel from the Old Crow Medicine Show is one of Bob Dylan’s?” yelled my wife at the weekend.
“Yes, I think I did. But what about Desolation Row by My Chemical Romance? The theme from the 2009 movie, Watchmen? That’s his too.”
“What? Are you kidding me!”
So here are eight more songs you didn’t know were Bob Dylan’s…
Legendary singer-songwriter BOB DYLAN released 39 studio albums since his first self-titled album was released in 1962, with over ninety singles, over two dozen extended works, fifty music videos, twelve live albums, fifteen volumes comprising The Bootleg Series, nineteen album compilations, fourteen box sets, seven soundtracks as top contributor, five music home videos, and two non-music home videos. That’s a lot of cooking!
But did you know these were by Bob?
Man of Constant Sorrow
After the success of the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? starring the Soggy Bottom Boys, everyone was playing Dan Tyminski’s version of this old number. It is derived from a traditional American song first published by “blind” Dick Burnett, a folk musician and songwriter from Kentucky.
But although the Bluegrass duo The Stanley Brothers made the song popular in the 1950s, the Tyminski’s version encompasses arrangements established by Dylan in 1961.
Mr Tambourine Man
The recording of this song by The Byrds influenced the popularisation of the jangle pop subgenre.
The Byrds even used the title for their debut album, released in 1965, that is often cited as the first folk rock record. But it’s a Dylan number.
All Along the Watchtower
This is the best Jimi Hendrix number he didn’t write.
Taken from the 1967 album John Wesley Harding, Dylan’s number is so markedly identified with the Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland experience that it is difficult to separate them.
In fact, even though the Hendrix version was released six months after Dylan’s original, it was his rendition that became one of Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all time.
Bob wrote this as a lullaby for his eldest son, Jesse, born in 1966.
The lyrics reflect the Book of Numbers in the Holy Bible.
It appeared as a single in 1979 and is on the Bob Dylan album titled: Bob Dylan at Budokan.
If Not for You
Most people of a certain age think of George Harrison when they hear this.
But Olivia Newton-John’s tender recording is exceptional. Olivia released the only U.S. charting version of the song, in 1971.
Beatle George put the song on his triple album “All Things Must Pass” in 1970. But the number was from Dylan’s “New Morning” album and released as a single in 1970.
The Mighty Quinn
“Come on without / Come on within / You’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn...” you probably sang along to British band Manfred Mann covering this number. So we may forgive you for thinking Manfred Mann (later Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) wrote it, as their version reached # 1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1968.
Some may declare it to be a Hollies hit too! But, no, “Quinn the Eskimo” ( aka The Mighty Quinn) is really a folk-rock song written by Dylan and recorded during his 1967 Basement Tapes sessions.
This Wheel’s on Fire
People tend to recall the 1968 version of this Julie Driscoll song that featured Brian Auger and the Trinity because it peaked at number 5 on the UK Singles Chart and because the hit is intimately associated with the British psychedelic era. Yet it was made even more famous by the hit BBC comedy series Absolutely Fabulous.
Nevertheless, it’s a Dylan number (co-written with Canadian bassist Rick Danko) later to be found on the 1975 Basement Tapes.
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
“This is a funny version of the Guns N ‘Roses song…” my five-year-old daughter told me in 1990.
Yes, she was right. Bob’s version of the song, written for the soundtrack of the 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, never got the attention it deserved.
Whereas, the GnR’s “Welcome to the Jungle” hard rock version is very much respected, better remembered, and became especially poignant after the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, 1992.
Words: @neilmach 2020 ©
Main image: credit Sony BMG Music Entertainment