July 9: Jack White and Bob Dylan – The Connections – Happy Birthday Jack!

Jack White and Bob Dylan
“He’s very good at making sure you don’t know him.” – Jack White(laughing) on his friendship with Bob Dylan (To Rolling Stone Magazine)

Earlier this year Bob Dylan was honored at a tribute concert to benefit MusiCares. The lineup featured Jack White, Beck, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Willie Nelson, and many others. Jack White played One More Cup Of Coffee, a song he also did with The White Stripes some years ago.

The real connection between these to artists is of course their love of music, the love of blues and country music. Are there other similarities? The pencil-thin mustache, Jack White versus Jack Frost and the cool hats and canes. I read somewhere that Jack White once said he has three dads: his biological father, God and Bob Dylan. Dylan was the first concert he ever saw — he says he had seat No. 666 — and he shares with his hero a love for manipulating and obscuring his own persona.

 I know that the first concert I went to when I was ten years old was Bob Dylan, and I really wanted him to play ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ – but he didn’t play it. I wasn’t upset. I kind of thought it was cool he didn’t when I was ten years old. – Jack White (to The Observer)

White has done many Bob Dylan songs , especially with White Stripes , I will put those I can find into this post.

Let’s start with a fantastic version of Love Sick done by The White Stripes:

How did you first strike up a friendship with Bob Dylan? That was just by accident. I went and saw him play in Detroit and he said to me, “We’ve been playing one of your songs lately at sound checks.” I thought, Wow. I was afraid to ask which one. I didn’t even ask. It was just such an honor to hear that. Later on, I remember I went home and I called back. I said, “Can I talk to the bass player?” I called the theater. I was like, “Did Bob mean that he wanted me to play tonight? ‘Cause he said some things that I thought maybe – maybe I misconstrued. Was he meaning that he wanted me to play with him tonight? I don’t want to be rude and pretend that I didn’t hear or something like that.” So turned out yeah, we played together that night. He said yeah, come on, let’s play something, and we played “Ball and Biscuit,” one of my songs. It’s not lost on me that he played one of my songs, not the other way around. – Jack White to the Speakeasy (WSJ)

This happened in  Detroit, Michigan at the State Theater (March 17, 2004) and you can listen to it here Jack White played with Dylan  on at least three of Bob Dylan’s tunes, for two nights in a row.

Jack came on stage to do some very special songs. Meet me in the morning, One more cup of coffee and Outlaw blues From Bobsboots: This is the only BOTT song that Dylan has never performed live. Jack does an incredible version, and plays and sings superbly… but the bad news is that Dylan contributes little to the song. I’m not even sure that his guitar is turned on, so this is a mixed blessing at best.

Bob Ryman
I cannot believe that Dylan turned his guitar off, I’ve read a review of the concert that says: Bob on electric guitar and vocals, so I’d rather believe that, and it is a great performance!

New Pony – Dead Weather:

Bob Dylan have also played The White Stripes on his radio show (Seven Nation Army) and The Raconteurs have been the opening act on a leg of his never-ending tour.

One More Cup of Coffee – The White Stripes:

Jack White told The Observer about Dylan’s need for privacy in 2004:  I guess I like that about him. It seems like everybody today is so available – ready, willing and available for anything, and will go on and be part of a reality show at the drop of a hat. It seems like nobody has any sort of dignity any more. Dylan was trying to maintain his dignity, and a lot of people from an era earlier than maybe 40 or 50 years, it was easier to maintain that dignity.

Outlaw Blues – The White Stripes:

About Bob Dylan’s welding (!):

White headed back downstairs, stepping over a blue plastic wagon, and out to the backyard to a yellow-and-black brick building with a sign on the wall that read, “It Pays to Upholster.” “This is my workshop,” he said. There were brown burlap sacks draped over some chairs, and sewing and woodworking equipment scattered on the floor. There were also some tools for welding, which White said he was getting into through his friend Bob Dylan. “I’d never done it before, and he’d been doing it for a while, so he kind of gave me the lowdown,” he said. One day the two of them were sitting on White’s front porch, just enjoying the view, when Dylan turned to him and said, “You know, Jack — I could do something about that gate.” “That would be pretty cool,” White said, laughing. “I don’t know what kind of discount I’m going to get.” (originally in The New York Times)

Isis – The White Stripes:

Jack White also contributed on Dylan’s Hank Williams project: “I did a project with Bob Dylan: he put together twenty or twenty-five people to finish writing Hank Williams songs that only had lyrics and didn’t have music – it was the opposite of this project. I did this a year beforehand – I had to write music for Hank Williams’ lyrics” – Jack White

Wanda Jackson and Jack White – Thunder on the mountain:

With his earliest live act he performed the songs from Bob Dylan’s self-titled 1962 debut – in their original order – at coffee shops around Detroit. I will also include Ugly as I seem and although it is not a cover and not a straight forward reference, i believe this is a very clear melodic nod in the direction of Bob Dylan’s I Believe in You:

Other covers that I know of, but could not find: The Ballad of Hollis Brown – The White Stripes Live / – 4/8/03 Blind Willie Mctell – The White Stripes Live / Perth – 10/16/03 It’s alright ma, I’m only bleeding – The White Stripes Live 2/1/02 Black Jack Davey – The White Stripes,  technically this one was covered/reworked by Bob Dylan (twice!), but it’s cool enough to be included:

– Hallgeir

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bobsboots.com, Rolling Stone Magazine, The Observer, Yahoo

12 thoughts on “July 9: Jack White and Bob Dylan – The Connections – Happy Birthday Jack!”

  1. I was at the Dylan concert at the State Theater in Detroit in 2004 when Jack White came out to do what I thought was the third encore. I had no idea who he was. I asked the guy next to me who this tall guy was with the mop-top hair and the screaming guitar. He said “that’s Jack White from the White Stripes. I bought one of their CDs the next day and I’ve been a huge fan ever since!

    1. I was there, as well. However, I knew exactly who walked out onto the stage, turned to the person next to me, and told her.

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