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Celebrate Bob Dylan’s 72nd birthday with these terrible covers of his classics

May 24, 2013

Today, for those of you not so acutely tuned into the “aging folker-turned-rocker-turned-who-knows-what” scene, happens to be Bob Dylan’s 72nd birthday. And, while Hibbing, Minnesota’s favorite son is sure to receive plenty of well-deserved accolades over the course of this very special day, it’s worth remembering the dark undercurrent to Dylan’s songwriting legacy. His impressive catalog has, unfortunately, inspired some of the worst covers in musical history. Hey, they can’t all be Hendrix, right?

Here, then, is a taste of the hell that Bob hath wrought on us all:

XTC – All Along The Watchtower (White Music – 1978)

While Hendrix rocked up of Dylan’s classic, eventually establishing his as the definitive version, British New Wavers XTC took it upon themselves to add a healthy dose of discordant synthesizer and yelping vocals, instead. The result? Not so good.

William Shatner – Mr. Tambourine Man (The Transformed Man - 1968)

What’s worse: Shatner’s stilted delivery or the those staccato flutes popping up every 30 seconds? Either way, it’s almost worth it just to hear Bill scream “MR. TAMBOURINE MAN!” for no reason as the song fades out.

Rage Against The Machine- Maggie’s Farm (Renegades – 2000)

Ostensibly Dylan’s “FU” to the folk protest movement in which he first started out, a big part of Maggie’s Farm‘s charm is its straight-ahead, rollicking blues melody. Rage Against The Machine took all that charm, chucked it out the window, and turned it into a metal-rap sludgefest, sapping it of all its original eye-twinkling fun, instead letting it suffer under the weight of their imposed self-importance.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Subterranean Homesick Blues (The Uplift Mofo Party Plan – 1987)

You can see why Anthony Kiedis would think this was a good idea. “Hey!” he probably thought. “Here’s a guy just spitting out nonsense! Hell, I can do that!” And you know what, folks? We just sat back and let him do it. We brought this on ourselves.

Maroon 5 – I Shall Be Released (Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan – 2012)

Before he was an unavoidable face on NBC’s primetime lineup, Adam Levine was in Maroon 5, an actual band that played actual music. While there’s nothing technically “wrong” with their version of Dylan’s gospel ode to redemption, there’s nothing really “right” with it either. It’s like all the emotion has been blanched out of it, leaving behind an empty plasticine shell, trying (and failing) to show a little soul.

U2 – Blowin’ In The Wind (Live – 2011)

Fuck you, Bono. Just … fuck you.


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