Few artists in the history of popular music can boast as prolific an output as Bob Dylan; fewer still have such a high hit rate in such an enormous back catalogue. When you release hundreds of songs over a 60-year career, there are bound to be some duds - and there are some duds - but the number of great songs under Dylan’s belt trumps just about anyone.
To that end, he’s catnip for a cover. The songs are often musically straightforward but with killer lyrics to tear into, allowing much for the covering artist to interpret (indeed anyone who’s seen Dylan live over the last 30 years will know he plays fast and loose with his own songs).
And the expansive oeuvre means there are lesser known numbers that artists can make their own. Many of Dylan’s songs have been reinterpreted and improved upon by covers, and Bob’s not shy to doff the cap when this happens, often taking on the new version in his act.
These covers explore the depth of Dylan’s great American songbook, illustrating the myriad ways his music can be reinterpreted in genre, meaning, and sound.
10. The White Stripes - One More Cup Of Coffee
Dylan started out his career as a minimalist, one man operation, with his often simple guitar playing merely underpinning his incredible words. By the mid-’70s, though, his sound had expanded greatly. The Desire album is one of his sonically richest, with “One More Cup Of Coffee” a highpoint, Dylan ably backed by Emmylou Harris’ gorgeous vocals and Scarlet Rivera’s fiddle.
To that end, The White Stripes’ cut throws back to the younger Bob’s approach. Appearing on their first record, their version exemplifies their methodology of the time: two noisy Detroiters keeping things simple and raw.
Jack mirrors the violin line on his overdriven guitar before whacking out the chords under his plaintive yowl. Meg, true to form, doesn’t do a whole lot on the drums, but every decision she makes is exactly right, blasting out a basic beat over which her kayfabe brother can do what he likes.
The Stripes even cut out the vocal flourishes of ‘70s Dylan. While the original sees Bob stretch out words over several notes, Jack acks at his vocal chords and guitar in equal measure, making a great garage blues out of one of Dylan’s most mysteriously plaintive tunes.