Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen joining forces for a cover of Bob Dylan song ‘All Along The Watchtower’ is just as spectacular as it sounds on paper. While covering Dylan is a difficult task, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young somehow managed to pull it off.
Despite being written by the legendary pen of the freewheelin’ troubadour Bob Dylan, the most iconic version of ‘All Along The Watchtower’ belongs to Jimi Hendrix and his utterly mesmeric solos—an effort which not only takes the song in a new direction but has the ability to take you to a new dimension. Springsteen and Young, however, opted to follow the Dylan path more than the Hendrix route with their glorious cover.
The two iconic musicians have joined forces to cover the classic on a couple of occasions but the first time they performed it in 2004 in New Orleans—which was a moment for the history books. There is a special chemistry that is shared between Young and Springsteen who look completely in their element as they perform the emphatic ‘All Along The Watchtower’.
Springsteen has said that he has a lot to owe to Dylan, with the ‘Born To Run’ singer once recalling, when inducting Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, that the first time he heard a Bob Dylan album (Highway 61 Revisited, in 1965), Dylan’s performance “thrilled and scared” him in equal measure.
The singer continued: “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.” Clearly, Dylan had started a fire in the young kid and it was an intensity he brought with him to the performance.
It’s not just The Boss who has referred to Dylan as his greatest inspiration with Young sharing the same perspective, “He’s the master,” Young told Time in 2005. “If I’d like to be anyone, it’s him. And he’s a great writer, true to his music and done what he feels is the right thing to do for years and years and years. The guy has written some of the greatest poetry and put it to music in a way that it touched me, and other people have done that, but not so consistently or as intensely.”
Now, we’re not here to tell you that Springsteen’s cover of ‘All Along The Watchtower’ is anywhere near as good as Jimi Hendrix’s—even Bob Dylan’s isn’t as good as that. But the rendition The Boss gives is another testament to his ability to not only sing but capture the emotion of Dylan’s work.
Amply helped by the E Street Band and none other than Neil Young, The Boss takes to the stage and delivers a powerful moment for all involved.