The Best Dylan Covers: Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower


“I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way. Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.”
– Bob Dylan (Biograph liner notes)

“It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.”
– Bob Dylan (Fort Lauderdale Sentinel Sun, 1995)

“All Along the Watchtower” is a song written and recorded by Bob Dylan. The song initially appeared on his 1967 album John Wesley Harding, and it has been included on most of Dylan’s subsequent greatest hits compilations. Since the late 1970s, he has performed it in concert more than any of his other songs. Different versions appear on four of Dylan’s live albums.


Covered by numerous artists in various genres, “All Along the Watchtower” is strongly identified with the interpretation Jimi Hendrix recorded for Electric Ladyland with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Hendrix version, released six months after Dylan’s original recording, became a Top 20 single in 1968 and was ranked 47th in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – All Along The Watchtower (audio, album version):


“Dylan’s folky, foreboding original version—from his stripped-down John Wesley Harding album—is an interesting character study of two men living outside the law, on the fringe of society. But from the opening notes of Hendrix’s otherworldly cover, the whole tune comes alive, seedy but enlightened protagonists the Joker and the Thief jolted to life like hobo Frankensteins by Hendrix’s supercharged guitar playing and desperate vocal delivery.”
– Paste Magazine

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – All Along The Watchtower (Live, Isle Of Wight  August 30, 1970):

From Wikipedia:

The Jimi Hendrix Experience began to record their version of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” on January 21, 1968, at Olympic Studios in London. According to engineer Andy Johns, Jimi Hendrix had been given a tape of Dylan’s recording by publicist Michael Goldstein, who worked for Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman. “(Hendrix) came in with these Dylan tapes and we all heard them for the first time in the studio”, recalled Johns. According to Hendrix’s regular engineer Eddie Kramer, the guitarist cut a large number of takes on the first day, shouting chord changes at Dave Mason who had appeared at the session and played guitar. Halfway through the session, bass player Noel Redding became dissatisfied with the proceedings and left. Mason then took over on bass. According to Kramer, the final bass part was played by Hendrix himself.

Hendrix’s friend and Rolling Stones multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones played the various percussion instruments on the track. “That’s him playing the thwack you hear at the end of each bar in the intro, on an instrument called a vibraslap.”  Jones originally recorded a piano part that was later mixed out in place of the percussion instruments. Kramer and Chas Chandler mixed the first version of “All Along the Watchtower” on January 26, but Hendrix was quickly dissatisfied with the result and went on re-recording and overdubbing guitar parts during June, July, and August at the Record Plant studio in New York.

Engineer Tony Bongiovi has described Hendrix becoming increasingly dissatisfied as the song progressed, overdubbing more and more guitar parts, moving the master tape from a four-track to a twelve-track to a sixteen-track machine. Bongiovi recalled, “Recording these new ideas meant he would have to erase something. In the weeks prior to the mixing, we had already recorded a number of overdubs, wiping track after track. [Hendrix] kept saying, ‘I think I hear it a little bit differently.'”[22] The finished version was released on the album Electric Ladyland in September 1968. The single reached number five in the British charts,[23] and number 20 on theBillboard chart, Hendrix’s only top 20 entry there. The song also had the number 5 spot on Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.

– Hallgeir

Other entries in the series:
The Best Dylan covers: Stevie Wonder – Blowin’ in the wind
The Best Dylan Covers: George Harrison – If Not For You
The Best Dylan Covers: Emmylou Harris – Every Grain of Sand
The Best Dylan Covers: Them – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
The Best Dylan Covers: Joan Baez – Farewell Angelina
The Best Dylan Covers: Roger McGuinn – Up To Me

The Best Dylan Covers: Jeff Beck Group – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
The Best Dylan Covers: Susan Tedeschi – Lord Protect My Child
The Best Dylan Covers: Lucinda Williams – Tryin’ To Get To Heaven
The Best Dylan Covers: Jerry Garcia Band – Simple Twist of Faith
The Best Dylan Covers: Bruce Springsteen – All Along The WatchTower
The Best Dylan Covers: Patti Smith – Changing Of The Guards

The Best Dylan Covers: Johnny Rivers – Positively 4th Street
The Best Dylan Covers: Antony and The Johnsons – Knocking On Heaven’s Door
The Best Dylan Covers: Dave Alvin – Highway 61 Revisited
The Best Dylan Covers: 16 Horsepower – Nobody ‘Cept You
The Best Dylan Covers: Alicia Keys – Pressing On

The Best Dylan Covers: Cowboy Junkies – If You Gotta Go, Go Now
The Best Dylan Covers: Nina Simone – The Ballad of Hollis Brown
The Best Dylan Covers: Ramones – My Back Pages
The Best Dylan Covers: The Long Ryders – Masters of War
The Best Dylan Covers: Cat Power – Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again
The Best Dylan Covers: The Flying Burrito Bros – To Ramona
The Best Dylan Covers: Chrissie Hynde – I Shall Be Released
The Best Dylan Covers: Norah Jones – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
The Best Dylan Covers: Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash – It Ain’t Me Babe
The Best Dylan Covers: Buddy Miller – With God On Our Side

The Best Dylan Covers: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy aka Will Oldham – Brownsville Girl
The Best Dylan Covers: Lou Reed – Foot of Pride

The Best Dylan Covers: Indigo Girls – Tangled Up In Blue
The Best Dylan Covers: Tom Jones – What Good Am I

The Best Dylan Covers: Sarah Jarosz – Ring Them Bells
The Best Dylan Covers: Robert Plant – One More Cup Of Coffee
The Best Dylan Covers: Alison Krauss – I Believe In You
The Best Dylan Covers: Mick Ronson with David Bowie – Like A Rolling Stone
The Best Dylan Covers: Steve Earle – It Takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry 


One thought on “The Best Dylan Covers: Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower”

  1. Thank-you for this post!!! Love to Mr. Dylan, Love to Mr. Hendrix………..awesome song – love to all good people! May we save the day, with help from above………and maybe help from below. We all must be watching, and doing what we can to rejuvenate the Earth with our love – save ourselves and all the wild cats that do growl………………..cheers

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