#6. It Ain’t Me, Babe – Johnny Cash with June Carter Cash (1964)
A mournful anti-love song that rebelled against the cheery ditties that were dominating pop radio, “It Ain’t Me, Babe” was best-heard on the country airwaves. With Johnny’s authoritative baritone bringing a sense of honesty to lyrics about a relationship that cannot continue and June adding affecting harmonies, the Cashes made the song more powerful than Dylan or The Turtles did.
#7. Girl from the North Country – Rosanne Cash (2009)
Tucked among the protest songs on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, this gentle ballad revealed that Dylan was capable of writing a great love song. Rosanne’s interpretative skills make staying within the Cash family for a second straight track a no-brainer, as she deftly conveys the song’s heartbreaking lyrics about lost love.
#8. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue – Them (1966)
Before carving his own distinctive niche as a songwriter, Van Morrison was an ardent Dylan admirer. Cut with his band Them, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” finds the Belfast native turning in one of his best vocal performances on a track that had an enormous influence on U.S. garage bands of the era.
#9. Nobody ‘Cept You – 16 Horsepower (2000)
Recorded for but omitted from Planet Waves, Dylan’s original of this apocalyptic composition suffered from a too-jaunty arrangement. There’s no such problem in 16 Horsepower’s Appalachian-styled rendition, which slows down the pace with suitably spooky results. David Eugene Edwards’ hypnotic vocal adds to mystique, prompting many who have heard the track to seek out the Secret South album it appears on.
#10. Absolutely Sweet Marie – Jason & the Scorchers (1983)
One of Dylan’s outstanding pop songs is taken into hillbilly overdrive as these cowpunk trailblazers mix the twang of country with the reckless abandon of punk. There’s a sense of symmetry to the track as Dylan first recorded the song in Nashville while making Blonde on Blonde while the covering band was originally known as the Nashville Scorchers.
#11. Tears of Rage – Gene Clark (1971)
Co-written by Dylan and Richard Manuel, the haunting opener from The Band’s Music from Big Pink debut album is given a run for its money near the end of Clark’s White Light. More sprightly than either Dylan’s or The Band’s, Clark’s tender reading is no less emotional as his ghostly vocals disclose a sensitivity that The Band’s version doesn’t have.
Photo: Bob Dylan, Paris, France 1966, ©Barry Feinstein Collection