10 Good cover versions of Bob Dylan’s Christian songs (edit)

Bob Dylan

10 Good cover versions of Bob Dylan’s Christian songs

I love the “Christian period” in Dylan’s career, always have. In the beginning I felt quite alone in my belief in Dylan, but now he is finally getting recognised for his faith-based songs. The Bob Dylan records from that period are so much better than the critics at the time wrote, they were simply too shocked by his conversion to see the beauty in the songs. I have to say that not all critics were harsh, some recognised quality.

And so what if he’s taken up with the God of Wrath? Since when have you been so crazy about the God of Love? Or any other species of hippie bullshit?
– Robert Christgau

First his live shows from these years got well deserved praise and now finally the albums. They might not be among his best by Dylan’s standard, but by anyone else’s they’re actually quite decent!

Bob Dylan Gospel 2

Here are evidence that the songs are solid Bob Dylan compositions. I have tried not to only include gospel choirs, there are a lot of performances I could have chosen, but instead I’ve tried to show how the songs work in different styles.


I Believe In You – Sinead O’Connor

Such a presence, and the voice, man!

What can I do for you – Helen Baylor:

Good gospel/soul!

Solid Rock – Widespread Panic

Jam-band version of brimstone christianity, and they do it good.

Pressing On – Regina McCrary & Chicago Mass Choir

This is amazing, really! McCrary lifts the song to newer heights.

Gotta Serve Somebody – Mavis Staples and Johnny Lang

Mavis Staples and Johnny Lang do Bob Dylan’s song “Gotta Serve Somebody” at the Points of Light Tribute event on March 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. I think I have posted this one once before, but it is too great not to include.

Saved – Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir:

They’ve done many of Dylan’s gospel songs, here with Sharon McKenzie singing lead vocals, a fine performance!

When He Returns – John Lee Sanders:

John Lee Sanders in the studio recording his cd, “The Gospel Sessions” a slightly Jazzy-piano version.

Man Gave Names to all the Animals – Tucker’d Out

Great players!

Property of Jesus – Chrissie Hynde:

The Mighty Chrissie Hynde does a fine cover version!


Finally a truly great cover of Pressing On by Christian Bale as Jack Rollins/Pastor John in I’m not there. The song starts about 2 minutes in.

It is actually the artist John Doe that is singing and Mr. Bale is lip syncing to the song (see comments):

– Hallgeir

You should also check out the complete Dylan concert from Toronto in 1980

10 thoughts on “10 Good cover versions of Bob Dylan’s Christian songs (edit)”

  1. Oh, I love Bob’s Gospel years, it was the only time there was no doubt about what he was singing about. And the criticism and hate he received, much more than being booed off the stage, as in ’65. God said Dylan, go sing for my Son. Bob said, man, you must be putting me on! God said No. Bob said what? God said you can do what you want, but the next time you see me comming you better run. Well, Bob said, where do you want this singin’ done? God said on down highway 61.

  2. What a great post – fine variety. I’m sure Bob, like most songwriters, is quite proud when his work is carried on. Especially in such fine forms…

    By the way, I saw the Massey Hall show. I remember my brother’s excitement as we left from the first balcony that we should come for the next night, too. But, regrettably, we didn’t. Having the video up on Youtube is magnificent compensation.

    Pressing On, I believe unreleased at the time, was revelatory. I still sing it today – ‘on and on and on and on/Pressing on.’
    Great songs for the partisans. Thanks again. Keep up the excellent work. Can’t wait till you get to the Street Legal stuff.

    1. Thanks for the kind words.

      Wow, you were there! Lucky you.
      Yeah we really, really like the mid 70 stuff, and we will be doing many posts on those albums (and the tour)
      But our plans are not set or shall I say they are not set in stone. Things change along the way, but we will get to the Desire/Street Legal stuff in a not so distant future…

      – Hallgeir

  3. Havent heard them all yet, I am a bit so-so towards these albums, or thats not the whole truth as I really, really like “Slow train coming” and “Saved” is also mostly a good one. I really have issues with “Shot of Love” but on the other hand, on that album you find “Every grain of sand” and thats easily a top 10 from Dylan. Its hard to dislike an album with such a good song on it(much the same way as “Brownsville girl” on “Knocked out loaded”).

    Anyways, nice to see Mavis Staples, who are(in my opinion)extremely underrated for some reason or another.
    Nice to see Emmylou as well, but that version was a bit … ehhh … not to my taste. Speaking of Emmylou, I dont think she got the coverage she deserves on her birthday here, any chanse of an Emmylou-special soon?

    1. Thank you for the comments, I also agree about Emmylou getting too little coverage on our site.
      We will absolutely do better on that account.

      When it comes to Every Grain Of Sand, I hear what your saying and I agree that it is a bit polished maybe too much “cleaning” of the sound done by the uploader. But, I kind of like it and I could not find the one I was looking for (if I do I will edit the post).

      Again, thanks for the feedback.

      – Hallgeir

  4. Great version of “Property of Jesus” by Chrissie. I can’t get enough of her. Great band as well with Simon Phillips on the drums. At one time he toured with The Who. I saw him with them in 1989 at Radio City Music hall for the “Tommy” 20th Anniversary tour.

    Thanks for the great post. Keep up the great work.

    1. Thank you for the feedback, very kind of you.

      I really like Chrissy Hynde and The Pretenders as well, great artist and great band.

      – Hallgeir

  5. I can’t wait to check out some cover versions I’ve never heard before. Thanks! I’m a big fan of Bob’s faith-based songs.

    You may wish to edit your post to credit JOHN DOE as the performer of that last cover of Pressing On. Christian Bale, the actor, is only lip-sync’ing along to John Doe’s truly phenomenal performance of this great song.

    1. Of course I will give credit where credit is due, but I thought that John Doe was a pseudonym and that it really was Mr. Bale that was singing.

      Thanks for the comment, I will dig into this 🙂

      Edit: John Doe is the guy we should give praise to here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Doe_(musician)

      Thanks to Kimberly for correcting my wrongdoings


      – Hallgeir

Comments are closed.