Bob Dylan

May Your Song Always Be Sung: The Songs of Bob Dylan

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With only a pair of exceptions (think Hendrix and the Byrds), Bob Dylan's compositions are associated most with and recorded or performed best by Dylan himself. Tribute albums or collections of covers can never possess the grit and fire of his best material, especially those songs either intensely personal ("Positively 4th Street," "My Back Pages") or polemical ("Masters of War," "Talking World War III Blues"). Still, especially for great fans of Dylan's songs, hearing them in unfamiliar versions can often add meaning to lyrics or themes. May Your Song Always Be Sung: The Songs of Bob Dylan, a collection from German BMG Ariola, compiles versions separated by over three decades, most of them quite far afield from the originals but many of them performed by distinctive artists with something to add to the originals. Two of the best open the collection: Michael Hedges' atmospheric "All Along the Watchtower" and a mournful "Masters of War" from José Feliciano. The Box Tops' 1969 version of "I Shall Be Released" is a splendid fusion of country and soul, though Harry Nilsson's contribution is a ragged "Subterranean Homesick Blues" from 1974. At least half a dozen of the songs come from artists with far too much Dylan influence to make it on their own, including the Zimmermen, "Europe's number one Bob Dylan tribute band."

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