My DJ buddy Falcon did a weekly one hour late night show built around a theme, basically “Deep Cuts” but on the radio. He was kicking around the store one day, complaining that he didn’t have an idea for that week’s show.
“What about ‘All Along the Watchtower’?” I said.
“What about it?”
“You know, do a show that’s nothing but different versions of that song.”
“Oh, God,” he said. “I would kill myself if I had to sit through that.”
So this one’s for you, buddy, wherever you are:
Dylan’s original: Here’s how Bobby Z originally envisioned his ode to jokers and thieves.
Jimi’s version: Hendrix idolized Dylan, and it shows here.
Dylan, revised: Bob liked Jimi’s version so much that he changed the way he played his own song for the rest of his career.
Dave Mason: You probably know him as the “We Just Disagree” guy, but Mason was a friend and contemporary of Jimi’s and a great guitarist. His version is a classic rock staple.
Michael Hedges: My favorite version. Hedges was an absolutely brilliant player, and his version provides both Dylan’s folkiness and Jimi’s fireworks. Listen for the use of his ring as a percussion note.
Lenny Kravitz and Eric Clapton: It takes two to mimic Jimi, even if one of them is Gwinnie’s “man.”
Dave Matthews Band: “But James,” you’re saying. “I like Dylan’s version, but Bob’s voice is too melodic. Do you have a version that sounds even more like a constipated, braying donkey and includes a self indulgent bass solo?” I got you covered.
Eddie Vedder: “You know, James, that didn’t work for me. Can we keep the braying donkey but replace the self indulgent bass solo with self indulgent stage patter?”
Richie Havens: Let’s go out on a high note. Here’s the late, truly great, Richie Havens.
***SUPER DELUXE BEARS BEETS BATTLESTAR GALACTICA BONUS TRACK***
I”ve never seen the show, so I have no friggin’ clue what this is all about. Maybe you can tell me, I’m listening.