While the Bob Dylan song ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ will forever be intrinsically linked to the 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited it’s a single that many artists have tried to cover. From The Rolling Stones to Green Day, most rock and roll acts worth their mettle has a pop at capturing the soul of the song. One particular cover caught our attention, the collaboration between Mick Ronson and David Bowie on their 1988 cover.
Now, usually, we would launch into the high quality, golden gilded quality of the cover. We would be telling you about how it captures both the original song’s authenticity while lavishing some of the artist’s own style upon it to make it their own. And while some of that is true of this cover, in fact damn near most of it, the real truth is that this cover is, in the saddest of ends, a slightly sour affair.
Mick Ronson was a Spider from Mars when David Bowie launched his enigmatic flame-haired alien from outer space, Ziggy Stardust, acting as his lead guitarist and a driving force of his seminal album. It’s fair to say that Ronson and Bowie were thick as thieves both creatively and as friends. But sadly, the relationship, along the line, deteriorated.
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Bowie did invite Ronson to be the lead guitarist on the Diamond Dogs Tour but Ronson denied the request citing other work commitments. They played together again in 1983 and Bowie considered linking up with Ronson in his more fallow creative periods in the late eighties.
While Bowie continued to be the frontman extraordinaire Ronson soon found a more suited role to his more hidden personality, working as a guitarist with everyone from Bob Dylan to John Mellencamp to Morrissey. He also became an incredibly well-regarded producer, even taking on Morrissey’s Your Arsenal in 1992.
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Slightly before Ronson would take on the job of keeping Moz in line, he was sadly diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer in 1991. It would take his life in 1993 at the tender age of 1993. And so brings us to the somewhat sour note on this cover.
Ronson was making a new solo record Heaven and Hull and asked Bowie if he wanted to contribute anything to the record. Bowie sent over “a box of tapes” which, for the most part, was unsalvageable. However, there was one track which could be saved, just. The 1988 cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ which Bowie had cut in LA in a session helmed by Bruce Fairburn and backed by Bryan Adams’ band. Ronson took the track and overdubbed as much as the tape could handle and the track remains the last piece of their emphatic finale.
So while the song may be steeped in the kind of nonsensical frenemy bullshit that we all find ourselves engaging in at one point or another in our lives, the track should act as a reminder to cherish every moment you can have with them.
Source: David Bowie News