Bob Dylan’s YouTube channel saw a flurry of activity yesterday as massive upload of over 280 official audio videos took place. The YT trove contains career-spanning studio cuts, demos and outtakes from the legendary singer-songwriter as well as live recordings. But the upload also contains a number of covers of notable artists, both contemporaries Dylan influenced as well artists who influenced him. JamBase takes a look at five Dylan covers of songs by Woody Guthrie, Elmore James, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell and Jerry Jeff Walker.
This Land Is Your Land – Woody Guthrie
The first entry is Bob Dylan covering one of his biggest influences, Woody Guthrie. The live version of Dylan doing Guthrie’s iconic anthem “This Land Is Your Land” in 1961 appears in the 2005 Martin Scorsese documentary No Direction Home and the accompanying The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack.
It Hurts Me Too – Elmore James
Like many artists who defined 1960s music, Dylan was heavily influenced by the blues. Tampa Red first recorded the blues standard “It Hurts Me Too” in 1940. In 1957, blues legend Elmore James released what is considered to be the definitive version of the song. Bob included “It Hurts Me Too” on his 1970 album, Self Portrait, a mix of covers and originals.
Simon & Garfunkel – The Boxer
Also appearing on Self Portrait is Paul Simon’s stellar song “The Boxer” recorded by Simon & Garfunkel on their final studio album, 1970’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. Simon & Garfunkel released “The Boxer” as a single in March 1969 with Dylan quickly adding his version to Self Portrait which arrived in June 1970. Dylan has also performed “The Boxer” live with Paul Simon.
Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
In 1973, Columbia Records put out an album simply titled Dylan which featured outtakes from Self Portrait as well as his second 1970 release, New Morning. Among the songs on Dylan is a cover of the Joni Mitchell classic, “Big Yellow Taxi,” appearing on Joni’s landmark 1970 album, Ladies Of The Canyon.
Mr. Bojangles – Jerry Jeff Walker
Also appearing on Dylan is a version of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles.” While Walker is known as singer-songwriter of the Texas tradition he was born in upstate New York and spent some time in Dylan’s old stomping grounds of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in the mid-’60s. Walker included “Mr. Bojangles” on his 1968 album of the same name and the song has been covered by a number of artists over the years including Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Nina Simone and Bob Dylan.