Hear Built to Spill Majestically Cover Bob Dylan's '80s-Era 'Jokerman'

Idaho indie-rock giants transform 'Infidels' loper into their own gorgeously gnarled style

Built to Spill, Bob Dylan,
Built to Spill's Doug Martsch performs in July 2013 Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images
Marc Hogan

One of the joys of delving into Bob Dylan's 35-album-deep discography is discovering even the "bad" albums often have their charms. As Rolling Stone reports, upcoming compilation Bob Dylan in the 80s: Volume One (due out March 25 via ATO) finds Deer Tick, Elvis Perkins, Reggie Watts, and the unexpected duo of Slash and Gene Ween covering songs from the decade that spans from Dylan's Christian-themed Saved to resurgent, "Most of the Time"-featuring Oh Mercy. The comp isn't limited to Dylan's proper albums, though: Perkins takes on a Dylan-fronted song from wonderful, Roy Orbison-reviving supergroup Traveling Wilburys, and Deer Tick delve into Dylan's largely disavowed 1987 Wheels of Fire soundtrack.

Built to Spill contribute a take on "Jokerman," which despite being from Dylan's ostensible return to secular music with 1983's Infidels is actually packed with Biblical imagery. Where the original leans heavily on preeminent reggae rhythm section Sly & Robbie, the beloved Idaho indie rockers give it the tattered glory of their own best compositions. The identity of the titular figure has been up for debate for three decades now, but regardless of whether Dylan — or BTS' Doug Martsch — might turn out to be a trickster, what matters is that their rough-hewn yarns can, per the bittersweet refrain, make the "bird fly high by the light of the moon."

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