Saturday, June 30, 2007

"All Along the Watchtower"

Last night, I was dropping some greenbacks on a few malted beverages and playing Golden Tee at a local watering hole when I heard Neil Young's version of "All Along the Watchtower." I started thinking about the Bob Dylan original and how many times it's been covered over the years - Hendrix, the Dead, Dave Matthews Band, hell even Prince gave it a go during last year's Super Bowl halftime show... I honestly don't think I've heard a version I didn't like so far and I like them all for different reasons (although DMB's take is my favorite, with the slow start that builds into a free-for-all frenzy). So I decided that I would do a little research this weekend... that is, if I remembered.

Well apparently my memory isn't as bad as I thought it was. It didn't take much surfing to uncover some more information. My first stop was to the trusty Wiki which provided a little history lesson (the lyrics "contain biblical and apocalyptic references") and a lengthy list of artists who covered it. I then came across what I first thought was a gold mine - a post on My Old Kentucky Blog, who covered this same topic in May (you mean I'm not the only one that comes up with these ideas??). Bonus! The post includes audio links for a handful of the covers... Damn! I can't get any of the links play.

I think the amazing thing about this song is the diversity of the artists that have covered it. The Dead played it 123 times... Dionysis Savvopoulos adapted the lyrics and sang it in Greek... B-Real of Cyprus Hill (I'd love to hear that version)... DMC of Run DMC (ditto)... rock, rap, new wave, folk, blues, even a string quartet - this song knows no boundaries in the music world. Makes you wonder if Bob Dylan knew that this song was going to be so popular on so many different levels when he wrote it almost 40 years ago?

1 comment:

mru said...

Some songs are universal. Some artists are universal. This is a universal song by a universal artist. I get lost when I try to think about this stuff for too long...
But anyway, if you're into the whole universal truths sort of thing, check out this website by David Dodd from the Music department at the University of California. It contains discussion regarding many of the lyrics written by Robert Hunter (made famous by Jerry Garcia):