#12. Spanish Harlem Incident – Chris Whitley (2000)
Drawing from blues and jazz as well as rock, the late Texan held a unique presence during the grunge era, netting two Top 40 singles in 1991 while his Living with the Law debut album was named ninth best in The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critics poll. Deeply moving, Whitley’s take on “Spanish Harlem Incident” leaves a haunting impression.
#13. I’ll Keep It with Mine – Rainy Day (1984)
An offshoot of Los Angeles’ ‘60’s-inspired Paisley Underground scene, Rainy Day was a covers project recorded by members of the Bangles, Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade and Three O’ Clock. The album’s leadoff track, “I’ll Keep it with Mine” features an almost identical arrangement to Nico’s 1967 version with the difference being better vocals courtesy of Susanna Hoffs.
#14. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door – Antony & the Johnsons (2007)
One of Dylan’s most economical hits offers a compelling backstory of its dying narrator despite containing just two brief verses. It would seem improbable that anyone could ride the song’s repetitive chord structure beyond four minutes, but that’s what happens here as Antony Hegarty (now Anohni) turns in a compelling performance by incessantly moaning the song’s title.
#15. Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? – Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)
While Hendrix’s fiery “All Along the Watchtower” is commonly cited as the best Dylan cover, this BBC session’s recording and live interpretations of “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Drifter’s Escape” suggest that the guitar icon’s Dylan fandom came from a deeper place. This song in itself is historic, being the first recorded by Dylan to feature backing by Levon and the Hawks (later known as The Band).
#16. All Along the Watchtower – XTC (1978)
Where this song ranks among Dylan compositions is difficult to ascertain, as it is forever linked to Hendrix’s extreme makeover. That one overshadows XTC’s frenetic version, which is a shame as both are truly inspired. Remodeled around Andy Partridge’s stuttering vocal delivery and Barry Andrews’ peculiar organ sound, XTC’s offering is crucial in that it introduced Dylan to a generation that was cutting its musical teeth on punk.
Photo by Heinrich Klaffs