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How Bob Dylan rates Hendrix’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ version

Bob Dylan


How Bob Dylan rates Hendrix’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ version

Written by Bob Dylan and first recorded by Bob Dylan, the song “All Along The Watchtower” was featured on his 1967 album “John Wesley Harding”. Although it became a really famous track and sold a good amount of copies, that song really became a Rock and Roll anthem after being covered by the late legendary American guitarist Jimi Hendrix.


He released his version for the song about one year later, in 1968, being featured on his third and final studio album “Electric Ladyland”. The musician made the song bigger and louder, making the main riff heavier and also adding some amazing guitar solos to it.

But did how Bob Dylan rate the version Jimi Hendrix made of his song?

Like most artists linked to Rock and Roll, Dylan always loved what Jimi Hendrix did in his short career. During a speech in 2015 when he was honored as MusiCares Person of The Year, he praised Hendrix and said he was honored that he covered one of his songs.

“I didn’t even think of myself as writing songs for others to sing. But it was starting to happen and it couldn’t have happened to, or with, a better group. They took a song of mine that had been recorded before that was buried on one of my records and turned it into a hit song. Not the way I would have done it. They straightened it out.”

“(…) “Oh, and can’t forget Jimi Hendrix. I actually saw Jimi Hendrix perform when he was in a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames — something like that. And Jimi didn’t even sing. He was just the guitar player. He took some small songs of mine that nobody paid any attention to and pumped them up into the outer limits of the stratosphere and turned them all into classics. I have to thank Jimi, too. I wish he was here,” Bob Dylan said.

When asked by Rolling Stone magazine back in 2007 if Hendrix’s version made him rediscover the song, Dylan said: “Probably”. Then was asked if what the late guitarist did was the way he originally heard the song in his mind. Dylan replied, saying: “No, that record’s kind of a mystery to me, anyway. When he made it, it caused me to sit up and pay attention. Like, ‘Oh, there might be more to that than I had dreamed’.”

Jimi Hendrix loved Dylan and had already covered him live

It wasn’t the first time Hendrix covered a Dylan song. He had already played “Like A Rolling Stone” in 1967, during his set at the Monterey Pop Festival. During his career, the American guitarist and singer praised the Folk Rock artist many times. They had the opportunity to meet each other back in the 60s. Hendrix  recalled that in an interview with Steve Barker in 1967 but noted that they were both out of their minds on the occasion. So it really wasn’t a proper meeting.

“I saw him one time, but both of us were stoned out of our minds. I remember it vaguely. It was at this place called The Kettle of Fish in the Village. We were both stoned there, and we just hung around laughing. Yeah, we just laughed. People have always got to put him down. I really dig him, though. I like that Highway 61 Revisited album and especially ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues’! He doesn’t inspire me actually, because I could never write the kind of words he does,” Jimi Hendrix said.

During the same conversation he noted that he would like to do some session work with Dylan. But that sadly didn’t happen since Hendrix tragically passed away at the age of 27.

Hendrix’s version for “All Along The Watchtower” performed well on the charts, peaking at number 20 on the United States Billboard Hot 100. On Youtube, for example, Hendrix’s version was streamed more than 240 million times while Dylan’s version was played only almost 5 million times. Certainly if it wasn’t for Hendrix’s version, the original recording wouldn’t be as remembered as it is nowadays.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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