brni (brni) wrote,

the thief, he kindly spoke

The intriguing thing about All Along the Watchtower is that it is definitively always already a cover. Jimi Hendrix's cover of the song defines it. If there's any true version of the song, it is his, and even Dylan, who wrote the song and recorded it in 1967, recognized this, and began playing Hendrix's arrangement (1968) in concert.

Since then, 7 billion musicians have covered this song, mostly badly. For the most part, they are not covering the original Dylan tune. They are covering the Hendrix version. The new movie about Dylan includes a cover of All Along the Watchtower that features Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame. I heard a snippet of it on the radio today in a review of the soundtrack. The reviewer described it as (if I remember correctly) uninspired and insipid. It was. There was nothing new in it. Simply replace Hendrix with a lesser guitarist and replace Hendrix with a lesser vocalist and there you go.

And I had to wonder why, when there's such a perfect (re)cover(ing) of this song already in existence, would they do a damned fool thing like this. Because the definitive cover of the cover is XTC's. It is the only cover they've ever recorded, back when Barry Andrews (of Shriekback fame) was still making keyboards perform unnatural acts for XTC.

It is to All Along the Watchtower what Devo is to Satisfaction, what John Coltrane is to My Favorite Things, what Marilyn Manson is to Sweet Dreams.

And it is on YouTube:

Anyone have other nominations for great twistings of songs?
Tags: music
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