By Aaron Galbraith
Let’s start with an excerpt from Springsteen’s memoir “Born To Run”
“Bob Dylan is the father of my country. Highway 61 Revisited and Bringing It All Back Home were not only great records, but they were the first time I can remember being exposed to a truthful vision of the place I lived. The darkness and light were all there, the veil of illusion and deception ripped aside. He put his boot on the stultifying politeness and daily routine that covered corruption and decay. The world he described was all on view, in my little town, and spread out over the television that beamed into our isolated homes, but it went uncommented on and silently tolerated. He inspired me and gave me hope.
“He asked the questions everyone else was too frightened to ask, especially to a fifteen-year-old: ‘How does it feel… to be on your own?’ A seismic gap had opened up between generations and you suddenly felt orphaned, abandoned amid the flow of history, your compass spinning, internally homeless. Bob pointed true north and served as a beacon to assist you in making your way through the new wilderness America had become. He planted a flag, wrote the songs, sang the words that were essential to the times, to the emotional and spiritual survival of so many young Americans at that moment.
“I had the opportunity to sing ;The Times They Are A-Changin’ for Bob when he received the Kennedy Center Honors. We were alone together for a brief moment walking down a back stairwell when he thanked me for being there and said, ‘If there’s anything I can ever do for you…’ I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’ and answered, ‘It’s already been done’.”
Going back all the way to 1975, Springsteen covered “I Want You” in concert. For me, this is prime 70s Springsteen.
Then jumping forward to 1988 and Springsteen inducted Dylan into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with the famous words, “the way that Elvis freed your body, Bob freed your mind.”
“The first time that I heard Bob Dylan I was in the car with my mother, and we were listening to, I think, maybe WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody kicked open the door to your mind, from ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’”
That same year he added “Blowin” In The Wind” to his set list.
Also in 1988, he released a special 12” single with “Chimes Of Freedom” on the a-side for Amnesty International.
In 1995, Springsteen performed “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” for a concert in Berlin.
Bob commented on the performance of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – “Springsteen did that song like the record – something I myself have never tried. I never even thought it was worth it. Maybe never had the manpower in one band to pull it off. To tell you the truth, I’d forgotten how the song ought to go.
“Bruce pulled all the power and spirituality and beauty out of it like no one has ever done. He was faithful, truly faithful to the version on the record.”
Also, in 1995 Bob invited Springsteen on stage to perform together on a lovely version of “Forever Young”. “Let me hear you say “Bruuuce”!”
In 2003 they got together again at Shea Stadium for “Highway 61 Revisited”. Not the best audio quality here, maybe Bob’s mic isn’t plugged in for the first verse, but it all comes together nicely after a minute of two and Bob seems to be having a lot of fun!
During the “Working On A Dream” tour in 2009, Bruce performed an amazing one off version of “Like A Rolling Stone”.
In 2006 Springsteen released “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions” featuring covers of songs associated with Pete Seeger. Including covers of several tracks Dylan also covered over the years.
First up, “Shenandoah”.
Followed by ”Froggie Went A-Courtin’”. So that’s Dylan, Presley, McCartney, Guthrie, Cave and Springsteen all recorded this one now!
Back in 1971 during the Allen Ginsberg sessions Bob and friends also ran through a version of another track Springsteen selected for the “Seeger Sessions” album. Here we have their version of “Pay Me My Money Down”
There is only really one place for me to leave this article and that is with Bob’s own cover of “Dancing In The Dark”. This was made in 1990 at the infamous, 4 hour-long set at the 700 seater venue Toad’s Place. This was Bob’s very first concert of the 90s and you can tell that he doesn’t know all the words but does occasionally manage to pick out some lines, “I ain’t nothing but tired” and “shake this world off my shoulder”, the rest he just makes up. I, for one, love it!
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