The way I think about the blues, comes from what I learned from Big Joe Williams. The blues is more than something to sit home and arrange. What made the real blues singers so great is that they were able to state all the problems they had; but at the same time, they were standing outside of them and could look at them. And in that way, they had them beat. What’s depressing today is that many young singers are trying to get inside the blues, forgetting that those older singers used them to get outside their troubles.
-Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan Liner Notes – 1963)
Joseph Lee “Big Joe” Williams (October 16, 1903 – December 17, 1982) was an American Delta blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, notable for the distinctive sound of his nine-string guitar. Performing over four decades, he recorded the songs “Baby Please Don’t Go”, “Crawlin’ King Snake” and “Peach Orchard Mama”, among many others.
“The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing, thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness”
– Psalms 41:3
In My Time of Dying (also called Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed or variations on this) is a traditional gospel music song that has been recorded by numerous musicians. Bob Dylan recorded it for his debut album as In My Time Of Dyin’.
It was (as most of the songs on the album) cut in one take.
” I can’t see myself singing the same song twice in a row. That’s terrible.”
– Bob Dylan
“Dylan had never sung ‘In My Time of Dyin’ ‘ prior to this recording session. He does not recall where he first heard it. The guitar is fretted with the lipstick holder [ makeshift slide ] he borrowed from his girl, Suze Rotolo, who sat devotedly and wide-eyed through the recording session.”
– Liner Notes, Bob Dylan (album, 1962)
In 1961, Bob Dylan recorded “Fixin’ to Die” for his debut album, released the following year. The album liner notes indicate that it “was learned from an old recording by Bukka White”. However, Dylan’s arrangement uses a slightly different melody line and some new lyrics.
“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.