Today, we’re exploring some of the best covers of Bob Dylan’s iconic song ‘All Along the Watchtower’. While many people first heard the song through Jimi Hendrix’s version, it’s important to note that the song was actually written by Dylan. Hendrix covered the song a few months after Dylan recorded it, and his version has become just as iconic as the original.
Over the years, many musicians and acts have covered ‘All Along the Watchtower’, including The Jimi Hendrix Experience, George Lynch, Eddie Vedder, Devlin ft. Ed Sheeran, and U2. Each cover offers a unique interpretation of the song, showcasing the versatility and timelessness of Dylan’s music.
Before we dive into the covers, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of what the original sounds like. This will help us better appreciate the different versions and compare them to the original. Despite being over 50 years old, ‘All Along the Watchtower’ remains a beloved classic and a testament to Dylan’s enduring legacy as a songwriter and musician.
All Along the Watchtower – Bob Dylan (1967)
One of Dylan’s most popular live songs, he has performed it over 2000 times during his 60-year career (and counting). Despite the fact that he recorded the song in 1967, it wasn’t until 1974 that he first performed it live. He performed a rendition that was more akin to Jimi Hendrix’s, and he continued to do so throughout the years.
Onto the covers. Each brings their musical genre/style & and puts their own unique mark on it.
1. The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)
Jimi Hendrix’s cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ from his album ‘Electric Ladyland’ has stood the test of time for over 50 years. The song became Hendrix’s highest-charting American single at the time of its release and remains a fan favorite to this day. In 2001, the cover was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, cementing its place in music history. The song was also included in Rolling Stone’s top 50 songs of all time list, a testament to its enduring popularity and influence.
2. George Lynch (2004)
George Lynch is widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, known for his work with the metal/hard rock band Dokken and later with his own band, Lynch Mob. In 2013, he formed KXM with King’s X drummer Doug Pinnick and Korn drummer Ray Luzier On his cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’, George pays homage to his influences by reproducing numerous unique guitar sounds made famous by Jimi Hendrix. The cover leans more towards Hendrix’s style, showcasing George’s versatility as a musician and his ability to put his own spin on a classic song.
3. Eddie Vedder (2007)
Eddie Vedder, best known as the lead singer of Pearl Jam, and The Million Dollar Bashers offer a cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ that follows in the footsteps of Bob Dylan’s original. Eddie has continued to perform the song with Pearl Jam and as a solo artist ever since. The cover was featured in the soundtrack for the biopic I’m Not There
, which was inspired by Dylan’s life and music. The movie boasts an all-star cast, including Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, and Richard Gere.
4. Devlin ft. Ed Sheeran (2012)
This cover borrows from both the Dylan & the Hendrix versions & throws in 3 new verses of lyrics bringing something fresh sounding to the table. The cover was a hit for both artists & was used in the 2013 movie 2 Guns
starring Denzel Washington & Mark Wahlberg. The album this cover is on “A Moving Picture” isn’t available on Amazon or Apple Music.
5. U2 (1987)
U2’s cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ was recorded live during their 1987 Joshua Tree Tour but appeared as a track on their 1988 album ‘Rattle & Hum’. The cover isn’t the only connection between Dylan and the album, as he helped co-write the song ‘Love Rescue Me’ with Bono. U2’s cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ showcases the band’s ability to put their own spin on a classic song while staying true to Dylan’s original.
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