13 great Americana versions of Bob Dylan songs
Americana is an amalgam of roots music formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the American musical ethos; specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and other external influences. Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.”
A while ago I did a post on my top 10 country versions of Bob Dylan songs (soon to be updated), since then I’ve been made aware of a lot more songs from people who read the original post. Then most of my pickings where of classic country leaning on outlaw country, in this post I will concentrate on the new generation of country/ alt. country.
Here are 13 favourite Bob Dylan songs performed by Americana artists. Lets start with a great live version:
Bobby Long & John Fullbright – It’s Not Dark Yet:
What a wonderful sound and such a great performance. These guys are just so good!
Coal Porters / Sid Griffin – You ain’t goin’ nowhere -You ain’t goin’ nowhere (27.06.13):
Sid Griffin and his Coal Porters perform their final encore, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere” live at Eurofolkfestival, Ingelheim (near Mainz), Germany on June 27, 2013 in front of the stage because the stage was cleared for the next act. “You ain’t goin’ nowhere” was written by Bob Dylan in 1967 and was first recorded by the Byrds and released as a single on Columbia Records, produced by Gary Usher, on April 2, 1968 reaching #75 US and #45 UK as well as being on the classic album “Sweetheart of the rodeo”.
Dylan himself released a 1967 version, produced by Leon Russell, on his 1971 sampler “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II” aka “More Bob Dylan Greatest Hits” as well as “Basement Tapes” (recorded with the Band).
Sid Griffin is a great American musician / singer-songwriter (former member of the Long Ryders, Western Electric and the Unclaimed), journalist and Dylan-author. The Coal Porters are the world’s first alternative Bluegrass band.
Nickel Creek – Tomorrow Is a Long Time (live @ House of Blues, Boston on 5/1/14):
What a great voice Sarah Watkins has!
Sarah Jarosz – Ring Them Bells:
One of my all time favourite Dylan covers!
The Tallest Man on Earth – Every Grain of Sand:
Wow, a strong version of a wonderful song. He really gets the lyrics through.
When searching the big web for songs, about a thousand versions of To Make You Feel My Love popped up. It’s a good song, and there are many decent versions. But it is heading into that class where Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heavens Door is, in radio hell. Songs doomed to mainstream radio with vastly inferior versions than the originals. It’s a shame, but I guess it is what happens when songs are played to death (pun intended). All of the songs here are fresh and good interpretations even if I like the original better, and that goes for all the Dylan songs I have chosen.
Dr. Dog – The Man in Me:
I fine interpretation, a bit chatty audience and shaky camera work but the greatness of the song and the band is obvious.
It looks like it was a great Lebowskifest!
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Brownsville Girl (this is impressive!):
Will Oldham aka Bonnie Prince Billyis performing with the whole Motherlodge crew. Recorded at Actors Theatre in Louisville on November 11, 2012. I know I have posted this in a video post before, but I think it is so good I just had to include it here. Wonderful singing and it’s a long song, I am impressed he manages to keep that storytellers-groove going all that time.
Chad Stokes and the White Buffalo – Girl From The North Country:
If you go when the snowflakes storm
When the rivers freeze and summer ends
Please see if she’s a coat so warm
To keep her from the howlin’ winds.
The Avett Brothers perform Bob Dylan’s Just Like A Woman (with help from Simone Felice, 2011):
The Avett brothers have covered quite a few of Dylan’s songs, but I think I made the right choice (the other ones are also good). Great band. Fun Fact: Simone Felice played drums on the album (I and love and you), no, not all the songs, but it shows his musicality. He’s a very good drummer, great songwriter and guitarplayer, and , my God, what a voice!
Simone Felice and Simi Stone – I Shall Be Released:
Great version, I’ve seen them in different settings over the years. Simi Stone was also a member of The Duke and The King, great band both on record and live, hope they’re just on a break.
The Lumineers – Boots Of Spanish Leather :
Good band that we have done at least one write up on in the past, check them out.
Bon Iver – With God on Our Side:
Bon Iver can cover everything and it will turn out interesting!
First Aid Kit – One More Cup Of Coffee:
This is a song that sounds as if it was written for them, they’re good singers! This was recorded just a short while ago.