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Music

Revisit Mark Lanegan's cover of Bob Dylan

@TylerGolsen

As the weeks continue to pass since the passing of legendary Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan, the proper comparisons are starting to fall into place. Comparisons to his contemporaries like Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder aren’t surprising, considering how Lanegan’s gruff bray set the template for the often-imitated “grunge voice” of the early 1990s.

But Lanegan’s eclectic nature also meant that he could stand toe to toe with figures like Tom Waits or Nick Cave without seeming overblown or out of place. Always willing to incorporate elements of folk, metal, or classic Delta blues into his work, Lanegan was much more than just another rock singer from the ’90s.

To prove just how versatile he was, Lanegan would often take on songs that were uncommon or alien to his peers. Most famously, that included Lead Belly’s ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’, with Lanegan’s recording on his solo debut The Winding Sheet serving as an inspiration for Nirvana’s version during their MTV Unplugged concert. Lanegan could take on more contemporary folk icons as well, like when he covered Bob Dylan’s ‘Man In The Long Black Coat’ for the I’m Not There soundtrack.

An atypical biopic deserves an equally atypical soundtrack, so it should come as no surprise that I’m Not There casts a strange group of musicians to take on Dylan’s legendary work. The wide range of styles is mind-boggling: Los Lobos, Karen O, Willie Nelson, Sonic Youth, Sufjan Stevens, Jack Johnson, and The Black Keys all make appearances. But the one figure who seems most at ease is Lanegan, letting his unhurried version of the late-’80s Dylan tune unfurl with laid-back ease.

Eerie and unsettling, Lanegan takes the spacey ethos of the original and covers it in a new layer of darkness. Dylan’s nasally vocal from the original gets replaced with Lanegan’s signature growl, and the results feel both true to the original song and like something completely new. Lanegan had that kind of effect on his covers, always with a keen ear for unique sounds.

Check out Lanegan’s take on ‘Man In The Long Black Coat’ down below.