Covers we missed 4: All along the Watchtower



I don’t know what it means either: an index to the current series appearing on this website.

For more details on this new series on cover versions of Dylan songs that were not previously considered in the last series, please see the intro to the first article in this series.


by Jürg Lehmann

I would like to point out two covers that are a bit out of the ordinary: One is the interpretation by Lisa Gerrard

The second (which appears below) is a recording of the performance “Teaterkoncert” with Bjørn Fjæstad, Claus Hempler, Ole Thestrup and Ulla Henningsen

Lisa Gerrard is an award-winning singer, composer, and instrumentalist from Australia who rose to fame as a member of Dead Can Dance during the 1980s, and has remained an in-demand collaborator and soundtrack composer throughout. One of the most otherworldly vocalists of her time, she sings in the dramatic contralto and mezzo-soprano ranges, often in a self-created language.

As with Dead Can Dance‘s work, Gerrard’s own music is virtually unclassifiable, incorporating folk melodies, traditional instruments, electronics, and orchestral arrangements. Among other instruments, she is particularly skilled at playing the yangqin, a Chinese hammered dulcimer.

After releasing several albums as part of Dead Can Dance throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, she made her solo debut in 1995 with the full-length The Mirror Pool. By the early 2000s, she’d established herself as a notable film composer; her score for the 2000 film Gladiator, in collaboration with Hans Zimmer, won a Golden Globe and her original score for 2009’s Balibo which received an Aria award.

Gerrard has worked on dozens of film and television scores such as A Thousand Roads (2005), Burning Man (2011), Samsara (2014), and Valley Of Shadows (2018) and released several more solo albums including 2009’s The Black Opal, and 2014’s Twilight Kingdom. She has engaged in numerous recorded and live collaborations with Pieter BourkePatrick CassidyKlaus Schulze, Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares, among many others.

In 2021, she and composer Jules Maxwell (Dead Can Dance‘s keyboardist) released the collaborative album Burn.  Maxwell is an Australian musician, singer and composer who rose to prominence as part of the music group Dead Can Dance with music partner Brendan Perry. In addition to singing, she is an instrumentalist for much of her work.

Gerrard sings many of her songs in idioglossia [that is to say a private language understood only by one or two people]. With respect to such work she has said, “I sing in the language of the Heart. It’s an invented language that I’ve had for a very long time. I believe I started singing in it when I was about 12; roughly that time. And I believed that I was speaking to God when I sang in that language.”

Lisa Gerrard’s music is not exactly what I usually listen to and I haven’t gone through all her albums, but it seems that All Along the Watchtower is one of the very few songs that she sings not in idioglossia but with conventional, original lyrics. Of course, one would like to know why she chose this song of all songs. Unfortunately, in the numerous interviews with Gerrard, as far as I can see, nobody has asked this question.


Teaterkoncert Bob Dylan was the third and final part of Nikolaj Cederholm and Jens Hellemann’s theatre concert trilogy performed in Aarhus Teater, Denmark, in 2010 (part 1 was The Beatles, part 2 Beach Boys). You can get an impression of the Teaterkoncert show in this video featuring ‘Maggie’s Farm’, ‘Quinn the Eskimo’ and ‘Like a Rolling Stone`:

The cast in the show were Ole Thestup, Ulla Henningsen, Claus Hempler, Bjørb Fjæstad, Liv Lykke, Ashok Peter Pramanik and Jacob Madsen Kvols.

The self-description of Aarhus Teater said back then: Here’s the theatre concert for everyone who loves Bob Dylan – and for everyone who thought they didn’t. We have selected thirty songs out of more than six hundred. We’ve staged and reinterpreted them, we’ve given them new clothes and lifted them into the air. Theatre Concert Bob Dylan is a colourful, poetic, funny and wildly imaginative trip into Dylan’s universe. Each song has been given a brand new arrangement, which at the same time fully proves both the eternal quality that the songs contain.

I’m not sure if I personally would have liked the theatre performance very much, but one result of the show was a double CD with around 30 songs, including some remarkable, sometimes even excellent covers (for example Mighty Quinn….

And also Lay, Lady, Lay

I also like All Along the Watchtower

Powerful and mysterious, with a biblical quote (around 1:40) from Genesis 6:5 (‘The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth’ etc.), which is perhaps very irritating at first, but somehow not absurd and makes perfect sense – if you choose to interpret the song freely.

The covers we missed

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