Few artists have been covered as many times as Bob Dylan, with thousands taking his tracks on, and it’s no surprise considering that he’s one of the most talented songwriters to ever grace the earth.
Admittedly, covering someone as universally revered as Dylan is a task that has proved too difficult for many to conquer. However, that hasn’t stopped people from trying anyway. While some have managed to use his original as a canvas expertly, not everybody has had the same luck.
Interestingly, Dylan isn’t the most covered artist of all time; that gong goes to The Beatles, but he’s not too far down the list trailing them. Musicians also have plenty of songs to choose to cover from his repertoire, with the singer-songwriter having 39 studio albums in his arsenal.
However, there’s one song that musicians seem to gravitate towards, which has been covered over 300 times.
The most covered Bob Dylan track of all-time
No track by Bob Dylan has been covered more often than ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, which, according to SecondHandSongs, has been recorded by 375 artists since its original release on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and that’s without calling out on-stage covers.
The classic effort feels perenially relevant, and despite the changes to the world over the years since Dylan penned the track, unfortunately, we are still waiting for the answers. It marked a significant shift in his songwriting and signalled a newfound sense of maturity that his debut lacked, which helped Dylan become the voice of his generation.
Who was the first person to cover ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’?
The first artist to cover ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ was Bobby Darin, who recorded his version of the track weeks after Dylan created the original in Columbia Recording Studios.
Remarkably, Dylan’s recording of the track wasn’t officially released for almost a year after he got it down on tape, and it’s unknown how it ended up into the hands of Darin. Although, he also didn’t share the track until 1963, when the singer included it on his album, Golden Folk Hits.
Who else has covered ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’?
While Bobby Darin was the first artist to cover ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, his version of the track is far from the most notable. The most commercially successful recording of the song isn’t even by Bob Dylan, but, in fact, by Peter, Paul & Mary.
The trio released their cover just three weeks after Dylan, and it became a huge hit that landed at number two in the Billboard Chart. Ironically, the artist who topped the chart that week was Stevie Wonder with his single ‘Fingertips’, and in 1966, he’d also put his unique stamp on ‘Blowin In The Wind’.
Meanwhile, Joan Baez, Marc Bolan, and Johnny Cash are other famous faces that have covered the track.
What does Bob Dylan think about ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’?
In the liner notes for a 1962 edition of Sing Out, Dylan said: “There ain’t too much I can say about this song except that the answer is blowing in the wind. It ain’t in no book or movie or TV show or discussion group.
Man, it’s in the wind — and it’s blowing in the wind. Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that.”
He continued: “I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some … But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know … and then it flies away. I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many wars … You people over 21, you’re older and smarter.”
What is Bob Dylan’s favourite cover of his songs?
Surprisingly, Dylan didn’t give this honour to Jimi Hendrix for his take on ‘All Along The Watchtower’. Instead, he awarded that prize to Johnny Rivers for his version of ‘Positively 4th Street’.
“Of all the versions of my recorded songs,” Dylan wrote in his autobiography. “The Johnny Rivers one was my favourite. It was obvious that we were from the same side of town, had been read the same citations, came from the same musical family and were cut from the same cloth.”
He added: “Most of the cover versions of my songs seemed to take them out into left field somewhere, but Rivers’s version had the mandate down – the attitude, the melodic sense to complete and surpass even the feeling that I had put into it.”