Bob Dylan covers by 5 great Soul Ladies


Bob Dylan covers by 5 great Soul Ladies

It is strange how well Dylan’s songs sound in these interpretations by African/American women. They are so different from the originals, yet they seem to convey the songs meaning in an even more direct way than Bob Dylan’s own versions. They might not be better, but they’re excitingly done and very good in a different kind of way.

1. Nina Simone – The Ballad of Hollis Brown

2. Odetta Holmes – Tomorrow is a long time:

3. Mavis Staples (w/Johnny Lang) – Gotta serve somebody:

4. Nina Simone – I Shall be realeased (not complete but the only live footage I found):

5. Patti Labelle – Forever Young (songs starts 3 min. into the video):

6. Randy Crawford – Knocking on Heavens door:


Update (see comments):

I just have to include this incredible version of Gotta serve somebody by Shirley Caesar from Masked and Anonymous soundtrack (and also from the Shirley Ceasar album Rejoice from 1980):

– Hallgeir

14 thoughts on “Bob Dylan covers by 5 great Soul Ladies”

  1. Etta James also has a great version of Gotta Serve Somebody. I tell you: That rocks!
    On the album, the producer has included the sound of a motor cycle arriving, and footsteps on the gravel… cute.

    1. Yes, I was considering that one.
      I must also mention a duet between Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples with an interlude about making fried chicken, I cannot remember what album it is on, but it is fun and very, very well done!

      Thanks for the feedback!

      – Hallgeir

  2. I always enjoy other musical artists covering Dylan, especially if they interpret the song in their own way.

    1. I agree, and his songs are often very good in other singers interpretations, but never (almost…) as good as Dylan’s original.

      Thanks for the comment.


      – Hallgeir

  3. I just have to say, that Nina Simone’s version of Hollis Brown has a fantastic repetetive, hypnotic, piano.
    As cover versions go, it is up there with Hendrix’ Watchtower.
    Yeah, it’s that good!

    – Hallgeir

    1. Beautifully done. The song shows just one of the the many layers in the soul of a Jewish boy from Minnesota. The tension of the sparse arrangement builds to almost an orgasmic level. It brought tears to my eyes when the final verse reveals the seven winds and we come to understand the relevance of the seven shells Hollis purchased. The redemption comes as the seven lives are born again in (hopefully) a better place.

      Thanks for the great list, a nice way to start the day.

      1. Thanks for the comment!

        Very nice description, and it’s the way I feel about the song myself.
        In fact it made me listen to Bob Dylan’s version in a clearer way, more direct. I’ve always loved the song, but now it is even better.

        – Hallgeir

    1. I love Just Like Tom Thumb with Nina Simone, but I allready had her on my list (twice!) so I thought that I better include some of the other fantastic women. Simone has a few more, very good Bob Dylan songs as well.

      Odetta has a full album, and quite a few of her interpretations could have been on this list.

      Thanks for your comment!

      – Hallgeir

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