Hendrix does Dylan All Along The Watchtower most popular cover

Song voted most popular cover by Jimi Hendrix – Dylan still performing the song at 71

‘All Along The Watchtower’ – Bob Dylan, Santiago Chile 2012

Readers of Rolling Stone Magazine voted Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ covered by Jimi Hendrix the most popular cover of all time.

On May 23, 2012 Bob Dylan will celebrate his 71st birthday and he’s still rocking it out, here recorded in Chile on April 30, 2012.

‘All Along The Watchtower’

“Your favorite cover (with no close second) is Rolling Stone

The song and album were a departure from everything Dylan had done before. Only 3 verses long it eschewed the 18 verse songs of his last few recordings.

The song is an enigmatic tale of mystery that many claim is based on the book of Isaiah. Possibly true but the Hebrew part of the bible is replete with references to watchtowers. The nation of Israel was ringed by a series of towers that were meant to offer an early warning of invading armies.

Dylan wisely never explained himself which only deepens the mystery. The song is the one Dylan has performed more often in concert over the ensuing 4 decades.

Jimi Hendrix ‘All Along The Watchtower’

Hendrix version which quickly followed Dylan’s release. It blew Dylan’s mind as well. The Wikipedia coveragedetails the story better than I could.

“The Jimi Hendrix Experience began to record their cover 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.

Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower Live at Atlanta 197It blew our minds to hear the

“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.”

“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.’”

“The finished version was released on the album Electric Ladyland in September 1968. The single reached number five in the British charts, and number 20 on the Billboard chart, Hendrix’s only top 20 / top 40 entry there. The song also had the #5 spot on Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.”

“Dylan has described his reaction to hearing Hendrix’s version: “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.”

In the booklet accompanying his Biograph album, Dylan said: “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.”

And Dylan keeps on rocking in the free world and elsewhere.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network


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1 Comment

  1. Everything Rock knows about the guitar after 1970 came from his psychedelic twisting of what the instrument could do. I pacomment_ID homage to Hendrix with a portrait called Purple Haze on the anniversary of his passing recently.

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