Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen are cut from a similar cloth when it comes to songwriting. ‘The Boss’ has made no secrets of his idolisation for Dylan, and the feeling was certainly reciprocal with his talents being hailed “incredible” by his hero.
The first moment that Dylan came marauding into Springsteen’s life is a juncture he can still vividly recall all these decades later. At the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, Springsteen was handed the ultimate honour of inducting his inspiration into the exclusive club in Cleveland, and while he was on stage, paid a beautiful tribute to Dylan.
He told the audience: “I looked at the cover, with Bob, with that satin blue jacket and the Triumph Motorcycle shirt. And when I was a kid, Bob’s voice somehow – it thrilled and scared me. It made me feel kind of irresponsibly innocent. And it still does. But it reached down and touched what little worldliness I think a 15-year-old kid, in high school, in New Jersey had in him at the time.”
Over the years, Springsteen has regularly covered tracks from across Dylan’s vast repertoire, including ‘I Want You’ and ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’. Incredibly, the favour was later returned in 1990 when Dylan put his spin on ‘Dancing In The Dark’. If somebody told the 15-year-old kid from Freehold that Dylan would be singing his songs one day, Springsteen would have thought he was dreaming.
Dylan has also given his seal of approval to Springsteen’s take on his creations and highlighted Bruce’s version of ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ as his favourite attempt of the song. In fact, the freewheelin’ troubadour even went as far as hailing it “incredible”.
The singer-songwriter made the superlative comment at the MusiCares Person Of The Year ceremony in 2015, following Springsteen paying tribute to him during the show with the cover, which took his breath away. “(Springsteen) did that song like the record, something I myself have never tried. I never even thought it was worth it,” Dylan told the audience. “Maybe never had the manpower in one band to pull it off. I don’t know, but I never thought about it”.
Adding: “To tell you the truth, I’d forgotten how the song ought to go. Bruce pulled all the power and spirituality and beauty out of it like no one has ever done. He was faithful, truly faithful to the version on the record, obviously the only one he has to go by.”
Unfortunately, there’s no footage of his “incredible” rendition from the aforementioned ceremony. Although thankfully, there is a grainy clip online of Springsteen delectably covering the track during an intimate show at Berlin’s Cafe Eckstein in 1995, and Dylan’s praise is more than justified.