I found out tonight that there are over 70 versions of the Bob Dylan song ‘All along the watchtower’ on the online music service Spotify. I sort of worry that there might soon be a ‘Watchtower radio’ channel online somewhere that plays nothing but versions of the song – and, of course, there are songs on there with just as many if not more cover versions.
I should add that I’m quite a Spotify fan – heck, I even have a paid subscription to it – and I can’t remember the last time I popped a CD on when working – I just go to Spotify and play my choons from there. Every now and again I search out a particular favourite of mine and see what other versions are around – there are usually a few that I’ve not heard before – and after you prune away the Karaoke versions it can be quite an interesting musical experience to listen to a few in succession.
I find it a good way of finding new artists that I might like. By listening to cover versions of music that I like in the original, it removes a variable from the complicated equation of ‘do I like this band / artist?’ If I already like the song, it comes down to what they’ve done with it. A good example of this was when I came across a cover version of Neil Young’s ‘Like a Hurricane’ done by the Dave Matthew’s Band – I liked what I heard and became a fan of the latter based on what they did to the Neil Young classic.
What was I looking for when I was searching through covers of ‘All Along the Watchtower’? Well, fans of the TV series Battlestar Galactica will recollect that a very ‘arabesque’ influenced version of this tune had a very significant role in the series, and apart from that it was a bloody good version. We’re getting there – a recent addition to the lists was a cover by Dominik Hauser and Tim Russ and that was pretty damn close!
And should you ever want a version of Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ as played by a string quartet, I point you here…