5. Rage Against The Machine – “Maggie’s Farm”
Rage Against the Machine overhauled the music of the Bringing It All Back Home single “Maggie’s Farm” to fit their funk-metal sound on their 2000 covers album Renegades. But the take-this-job-and-shove-it attitude of the song is perfect for an anti-authority RATM anthem, and Zack de la Rocha specifically delivers the version of the lyrics that Dylan used in an especially fast and aggressive rendition of “Maggie’s Farm” that ruffled feathers at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Guitarist Tom Morello also covered Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell” for his Nightwatchman solo project.
4. Sonic Youth – “I’m Not There”
“I’m Not There” was one of the dozens of songs Bob Dylan recorded in the famous Big Pink house with the Band in 1967. But it didn’t appear on the first official album of the sessions, 1975’s The Basement Tapes, and existed only on bootlegs for decades. Then Todd Haynes named his 2007 film I’m Not There, in which six different actors depict different versions of Dylan, after the song, and the ’67 recording was finally given its first commercial release on the movie’s soundtrack. The album features Sonic Youth covering “I’m Not There” with Thurston Moore on vocals, and Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley played in the Million Dollar Bashers’ house band that backs Stephen Malkmus, Tom Verlaine, and others on a variety of Dylan covers throughout the soundtrack
3. XTC – “All Along the Watchtower”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s classic 1968 cover of “All Along the Watchtower” has loomed large over every subsequent rendition of the song; even Dylan’s own live performances owe a debt to Hendrix’s transformation of his song. But XTC’s post-punk dub reggae version of “Watchtower” on their 1978 debut album White Music is the closest anyone has come to escaping Hendrix’s shadow. There’s a rubbery bassline, ominous organ, and no guitar — even singer Andy Partridge’s manic bursts of harmonica bear little resemblance to Dylan’s harmonica part on the original.
2. Jeff Buckley – “Just Like a Woman”
Folk singer Tim Buckley bristled at comparisons to Bob Dylan in the late ‘60s. But his son, Jeff Buckley, was a devoted Dylan fan who had several covers in his early solo performances, including “Mama, You Been On My Mind” and “If You See Her, Say Hello.” Buckley met his hero after signing to Dylan’s longtime label Columbia Records in 1993 and wrote him an apologetic letter after poking fun at him in a live performance. But his gorgeous ’93 studio recording of Blonde on Blonde’s “Just Like a Woman” wouldn’t be released until it appeared on the 2016 compilation You And I, long after Buckley’s 1997 death.
1. PJ Harvey – “Highway 61 Revisited”
Polly Jean Harvey’s Dylan fan parents suggested she cover the title track of 1965’s Highway 61 Revisited. But they probably didn’t expect how their daughter, along with producer Steve Albini, drummer Rob Ellis, and bassist Steve Vaughan would turn Dylan’s dryly funny song about World War III inside out as a bombastic highlight of her second album, 1993’s Rid of Me.