Over the past month Oakland ‘rapper’ G-Eazy has been recording new material, along with a slew of ear-hemorrhaging covers.
So far he’s tackled the Beatle’s ‘I’m So Tired,’ Radiohead’s ‘Creep,’ the xx’s ‘VCR’ and most recently, Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.’ Now I’m not normally one to sling shit at someone’s music career (my musical watermark was playing recorder at a primary school assembly), but Eazy’s auto-tuned take on the iconic Dylan tune is a fucking abomination. It’s somehow even worse than his rapping, which is really saying something. Eazy isn’t the first person to cover Dylan, but he’s surely one of the worst, so to prove there are solid takes on Dylan’s classics, here are five of the best.
Jimi Hendrix – ‘All Along The Watch Tower’
Guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix turned Dylan’s folksy ballad into a monstrous rock-shredder that become Hendrix’s highest ever charting Billboard song. Hendrix’s guitar skills are on display for all to hear as he whirls through incredible solos you can’t help but air-guitar along to. Similar to Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt,’ most music lovers rate Hendrix’s the superior version. Even Dylan gave the cover his seal of approval and often performs live using a similar arrangement in tribute to the legendary guitarist.
Johnny Cash & June Carter – ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’
I’m a big fan of Dylan’s original, but even I can appreciate the joyous Johnny Cash and June Carter adaptation, released less than a year after the original. A slight change of tact for Bob lyrically, the song deals with a man who is leaving his girlfriend because he can’t be what she wants. While sad, Cash and Carter turn it into a loving duet with a country twang. The pair’s harmonies are adorable, and it’s easy understand how in love the two were at the time of the songs release. Bryan Ferry’s cover is also worth a whirl.
Guns ‘n’ Roses – ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’
‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ is a case of lightning striking twice, with both Dylan’s 70s original and Guns ‘n’ Roses updated 80s rocker being massive hits. The Gunners began including a version of the song in their live sets and it quickly became a fan favourite, later appearing on a variety of G ‘N’ R albums and soundtracks. It’s an understated performance from the band, with Axl Rose’s familiar tenor providing a welcome change from Bob’s muted mumblings.
The Byrd’s – ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’
The first song on the acoustic side of Dylan’s experimental double album Bringing It All Back Home, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, is classic 60s-era Dylan and another of his most covered songs. The best version of the track goes to The Byrd’s, who were originally unimpressed with the song. Giving it the electric rock treatment to make it sound more like the Beatles, The Byrd’s released the song as their first single, and the rest, as they say, is history. The song helped lay the foundation for the folk-rock movement of the late ’60s and gave The Byrd’s their first number one hit. Interestingly, their second chart-topper, ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!,’ was also a cover. An upbeat take on Pete Seeger’s original that’s now a staple on golden oldies radio stations.
Rage Against The Machine – ‘Maggie’s Farm’
Remembered as being the catalyst for Dylan’s disastrous show at the Newport Folk Festival (where he performed a number of his new electric numbers and got booed off stage), ‘Maggie’s Farm’ is a big ‘fuck you’ to all of Bob’s detractors. It’s been covered by dozens of artists, but none captured the aggression of Dylan’s lyrics like Rage Against The Machine. Zack de la Rocha spews Bob’s words with venom as Tom Morello’s signature licks blast your eardrums.