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Music

The one cover song that Bob Dylan "treasures the most"

Bob Dylan boast a level of pedigree that he needs no real introduction. His exploits are the stuff of legend, and in terms of artistic output, he is possibly the most prolific songwriter of the last 60 years. Whether it be his early folk, his more hard rock-oriented material or even his later flirtation with the experimental, there’s so much to dig into in his vast back catalogue, and there’s something for everyone, reflecting just how dextrous he is. 

Hailed as the voice of a generation, Dylan, alongside The Beatles, helped to establish some of the most critical facets of modern songwriting, and without his input, it wouldn’t just be music that looked very different, but the world too. This is a testament to the quality of his output, as he’s continually proven that his songwriting skill is of a level that we laymen could only dream of achieving.

Dylan has lived life to its fullest. His career is a storied one, and the stylistic standpoint he’s always maintained has been that of an onlooker, watching the world as it goes about its business, taking us to task over our many faults and providing answers. It’s akin to how an oracle would have operated in ancient times, passing down profound information whose provenance is unknown. 

One of the defining features of Dylan’s music, even his foray into Christian rock, is the level of wisdom that he possesses. His lyrics are of such density that it leaves us wondering if he is really of this world at all. If he is truly a human, he’s one that has the perception of a modern Nostradamus. 

Given that Bob Dylan is such a revered songwriter with such a prolific output, it’s no surprise that he’s given many songs away over the years, helping a myriad of other artists to benefit from his talent. Be it Nico, Judy Collins, Johnny Cash or even Gabrielle, the list of big names who have found success on the back of Dylan’s songwriting ability is truly mindblowing.

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Perhaps the most eminent name to cover one of Dylan’s songs is none other than the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ himself, Elvis Presley. The song is ‘Tomorrow Is a Long Time’, and Dylan’s released version was recorded at his concert on April 12th, 1963 at New York’s Town Hall but did not see the light of day till 1971. Interestingly, Dylan first recorded it in December 1962 as a demo for M. Witmark & Sons, his publishing company at the time. 

It was Elvis who first popularised the song, however. On May 26th, 1966, he recorded the material during a session for the album How Great Thou Art, although it was eventually released as a bonus track on Spinout. It’s a languid, countryfied take on Dylan’s track and is one of the most ice-cool tracks Elvis ever released.

We all know how influential Elvis was on his generation and on the development of rock and roll, and this, added to the fact that his cover is stellar, prompted only the most candid of praise from Bob Dylan. The countercultural troubadour once said that Presley’s cover is “the one recording I treasure the most”.

A stellar cover by one of the all-time greats, having Elvis Presley cover your song is one claim that not many can lodge, augmenting the stature of Bob Dylan within the annals of music.

Listen to Elvis’s cover ‘Tomorrow Is a Long Time’ below.