The 5 Most Surprising Covers In Bob Dylan's Discography

Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature last year to honor his contributions to American poetry. But lately he's been focusing his creative energy less on original material and more on his growing collection of cover songs, which includes some strange renditions of classic tunes.

Last week, the folk icon released his take on 'Stardust' - a 1927 Hoagie Carmichael hit that Dylan has given a country twang. 

The recording is just a taste of what's to come on 'Triplicate' - Dylan's 38th studio album, which will be released out on March 31. The triple-album of covers features a wide variety of source material, including Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'This Was Nearly Mine' from the musical 'South Pacific' (1949).  The idea of Dylan warbling a Broadway number might seem odd, but it's nothing compared to some of the other covers he'd released over the years.

Here are 5 of the strangest covers that Bob Dylan has recorded during his 55-year career.

1. 'Man of Constant Sorrow'

Before making it big as a songwriter, Bob Dylan began his career covering traditional folk songs. His eponymous debut album (1962) was full of Dylan's take on tunes like 'Man of Constant Sorrow', which isn't a surprising choice for the folk icon. But movie fans might be surprised that Dylan released a version of the song that gained widespread popularity when producer T Bone Burnett rerecorded it for the Coen brothers' movie 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' (2000). 

The song was not only one of the earliest that Dylan recorded. It was also the first that he performed on television. Check out his small-screen debut from 1963.

2. 'Blue Moon'

"What is this shit?" Rolling Stone rock critic Greil Marcus wrote in his review of Dylan's controversial album 'Self Portrait'. The 1970 follow-up to the hit record 'Nashville Skyline' saw Dylan take his career on a surprising detour. Original songs like 'All the Tired Horses' didn't sound a thing like Dylan's earlier output. And the album was filled out with poorly recorded live tracks as well as a hodgepodge of covers that included Dylan crooning 'Blue Moon'. 

The song was a hit for Mel Tormé in 1949, but it probably couldn't have been more unhip among Dylan fans in 1970.

3. A Bob Dylan Christmas

It's impossible to single out one song as the oddball selection from Bob Dylan's festive record 'Christmas in the Heart' (2009). After all, if you were a choir director, you probably wouldn't pick Dylan's raspy voice to take the lead in 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' or 'O Come, All Ye Faithful.' Even more surprising than Dylan's decision to cover classic Christmas carols is the warm reception that his jolliest of albums received from critics. 


4. 'Things We Said Today'

It's not surprising that record producer Ralph Sall sought Bob Dylan's help for the Paul McCartney tribute album called 'The Art of McCartney' (2014). After all, Dylan and The Beatles were contemporary musicians who influenced each other's work. And Dylan treated the Fab Four to their very first smoke sesh when he brought a few joints along to their famous meeting in 1964. 

But the track that Dylan turned in for the album is bizarre. With a voice that makes Tom Waits sound like Bing Crosby, Dylan turned the sentimental pop song 'Things We Said Today' into something that seems more like a death threat.

5. New Blue Eyes

Dylan dumbfounded diehard fans in 2015 when he covered Frank Sinatra. And not just one song. The album 'Shadows in the Night' contained nothing but covers of songs that Ol' Blue Eyes made famous in the 50s and 60s. But what's really surprising about Dylan's odd choice of material is that his covers of Sinatra are good. Really good.

Check out Dylan's heartbreaking rendition of 'I'm a Fool to Want You' (1951), which Sinatra co-wrote with Jack Wolf and Joel Herron. 

Banner Image: meunierd/Shutterstock


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