A Dylan cover a day: Thunder on the mountain


By Tony Attwood

In meandering my way through this series it is difficult sometimes to understand why some Dylan songs are so often covered while others are ignored.  I rather suspect there is a deep laziness within some parts of the music industry – a sort of “What can we do?” question answered by, “Let’s do one of those famous Dylan songs.”

And maybe “Thunder on the Mountain” doesn’t fall into this latter category – it simply isn’t covered just because people don’t think of covering it.

Mind you the one cover I have been able to find is a particularly brilliant cover by Wanda Jackson and Jack White both having a whale of a time making the recording.  Which is why I’ll deviate from the usual policy of only focussing on songs that have multiple covers because I do so want to bring this version to your attention.

Now of course there may be other covers available on youtube which I can’t find at the moment on the interent since I am currently in Australia, and a lot of You Tube videos do have country restrictions.   So if I remember or if anyone can point any out to me once I get back to England at the end of 2023 then I will have a listen and put up some more.

Going on a search of the internet here in Australia, I did find “Thunder on the Mountain” by Mountain Man Recordings on Spotify, which is actually a recording of rain falling with a photo of a mountain.   And a version by Joe Satriani but actually that turns out to be “Thunder High on the Mountain” – which is quite a jolly instrumental if you like that kind of thing.

But all in all it looks like most artists really don’t want to have a bash at this song – and I wonder why.  Is it that they think that with Bob’s rendition and the Wanda/Jack version above there is nothing more to be said?

Of course you’ll know Bob’s version well enough, but here it is, just as a contrast to the version above…

Now it might be argued that for some reason this is a song that just doesn’t allow itself to be covered with a new interpretation.   But if that is the case, how come Bob can do it with his own work?    And yes I know I am covering Bob’s covers of himself in a separate series, but to make my point (that with enough imagination it is always possible to do something of interest with a song) here is Bob from 2018 re-working his own piece.

Yes, beyond doubt there is a lot that can be done with this song.   So it is not the music that is the problem; which means it must be the imagination of other artists.

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