by Aaron Galbraith
“When I first heard Elvis Presley’s voice I just knew that I wasn’t going to work for anybody and nobody was going to be my boss. Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail.” – Bob Dylan
Bob described Elvis’ recording of “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” as “the one recording I treasure the most”, and that this was his favourite cover of any of his songs. Elvis’ version appears as a bonus track on the largely forgettable “Spinout” soundtrack album from 1966. He first heard the track on the “Odetta Sings Dylan” LP and recorded it during the “How Great Thou Art” sessions.
Also, in 1966 Elvis made a home recording of “Blowin’ In The Wind”. It was eventually released in 1997 on the box set “Platinum – A Life In Music”
Elvis’ playful version of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” appears on the “Elvis” album from 1973 (AKA “The Fool”).
During the sessions from the same album Elvis’ recorded a short vocal run-through of “I Shall Be Released”. It remained unreleased until the “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” box set in 1995. I can only imagine how a complete version would sound, as this short version is tantalizing.
Bob has been toying with Elvis’ songs since the beginning. Here is an outtake from the “Freewheelin’” sessions. Some excellent harmonica work in this one too. Keep listening as a rocking version starts up after the breakdown of the first around 3 minutes 40 seconds. That’s All Right Y’All!
He attempted this once more in 1969 as a duet with Johnny Cash.
“That’s All Right” was Elvis’ debut single from 1954 and was ranked number 113 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.
“Went To See The Gypsy” from “New Morning” is purportedly about Dylan going to see Elvis in Vegas. You can read more about that (here).
In 1973 the “Dylan (A Fool Such As I)” album was released and included Bob’s take of “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” and “(Now and Then) There’s A Fool Such As I”. Elvis’ version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” was included on the “Blue Hawaii” album and topped the UK singles charts for 4 weeks whilst “(Now and Then) There’s A Fool Such As I” was the b-side of “I Need Your Love Tonight” in 1959.
In 1980 during a “Shot Of Love” session Bob recorded this rocking version of “Mystery Train”. Elvis’ version appears as the b-side to “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” in 1955. This time it was ranked number 77 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.
In a Sevilla concert in 1992 Bob introduces Keith Richards for this excellent take of “Shake, Rattle and Roll”. Elvis released this as a single in 1956 and on the “For LP Fans Only” in 1959. For those keeping score, this was ranked at number 127 by Rolling Stone!
In 1994 it is rumoured that Bob attempted to record an Elvis tribute album. He recorded three tracks before abandoning the project. Here are Bob’s take of “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, “Money Honey” and “Anyway You Want Me”
In 1997 Dylan said “What got me into the whole thing in the beginning wasn’t songwriting. When ‘Hound Dog’ came across the radio, there was nothing in my mind that said, ‘Wow, what a great song, I wonder who wrote that?’ … It was just … it was just there.” By the way “Hound Dog” was ranked 19 in Rolling Stones list.
There are a number of additional tracks that both men have recorded including “Here Comes Santa Clause”, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”,” O Come, All Ye Faithful”, “The First Noel”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Silver Bells”, “Runaway”, “Yesterday”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “Something”, “Froggie Went A’Courtin’”, “Early Morning Rain”, “Blue Moon” and “Let It Be Me”.
Is it just me, or does everyone do “Let It Be Me”? (Why does Bob Dylan so like, “Let it be me”)
Now you might be asking what is the greatest song of all time according to the Rolling Stone list?
Well, the answer is “Like A Rolling Stone”. As Bruce Springsteen said: “Elvis Freed Your Body, Bob Dylan Freed Your Mind”.
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