More Evidence: Bob Dylan Songs Are Best Sung By Female Singers


Thirteen years ago, I wrote a blog post here on the blog where i posited that Bob Dylan was, perhaps, the best songwriter for female singers.  What I meant was that female singers who covered Bob Dylan songs were eye-openers for me.  I included (maybe?) the most-famous cover of "Make You Feel My Love" by Adele.  But, what really has stuck with me is Sheryl Crow's version of Mississippi.  

Note here:  I recognize that we're (now) in 2023 and the notion of female vs male singers (that I used initially back in 2010) might not be a valid or appropriate framework for everyone today.  That's fine.   I'm going to use that construct here - with positive intent - because I think it makes sense for this discussion.  

Back then, posting musings on various topics on personal blogs were a thing1 and that's where hot takes like this lived.  But, the conversation around my (apparently provocative) post was taking place on the Bob Dylan news/forum site:  Expecting Rain.  

I took some heat from the Expecting Rain crowd in 2007 when I declared that the Late 90's thru the mid-Aughts were the "Golden Age of Bob Dylan" and that whatever you may call the run from Time out of Mind to Love and Theft to Modern Times - either "Late Middle" or "Early Late" Bob Dylan - the material produced on those three records stands up against just about anything in the catalog.  I did then - and will still now - caveat that declaration with the fact that I turned 19 when Time out of Mind was released, 23 with Love and Theft and 28 with Modern Times:  all formative music consumption years. 

I first updated that initial "Bob Dylan is best sung by female lead vocalists" post six-years later in 2016.  That's when I had listened to the soundtrack for the film Masked and Anonymous that had a clear "best" song (to me) - "Most of the Time" sung by a female: Sophie Zelmani.  And, I pointed to - for additional evidence that Dylan is written for women - the trio of Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Rosanne Cash and Shawn Colvin at MSG for Bob's 30th anniversary singing "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere." 

I bring this all up because - like some of you - I have started to give the latest "Bootleg Series" collection - Fragments from the Time out of Mind Sessions".  I haven't listened to the whole thing (it is an enormous number of tracks), but I started to poke around the Web while listening in my headphones.  This Pitchfork review really leans into 'Mississippi' as the golden thread.  And, I was (pleasantly) surprised to hear a few different new (to me) versions of that song.  It is, after all, one of my favorite tracks.  The Sheryl Crow version, specifically.  

After I read the Pitchfork review, I ended up at BobDylan dot com where, on the homepage, they feature a another new (to me) female signer cover of a Bob Dylan song.  This time, it is Tina Turner singing a number from my very favorite Bob Dylan record (Nashville Skyline):


Now...listen.... I suppose that my pov - that Bob Dylan does, indeed, want female singers to bring his songs to live - is something you disagree with, I get it.  First...look no further than how the actors were cast for I'm Not There.  (Photo up top of the best actress currently working, btw.)

But, let me put one more piece of evidence in front of you.  This Miley Cyrus cover of ANOTHER Nashville Skyline song (and...wait for it...my favorite Bob Dylan song of all time):  You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.  



I mean...come on.  

Bring it, Expecting Rain crew.  Tell me I'm wrong.  I don't mind.

1. [Ahem...I'll have you know that I never stopped posting here on my blog. So...while it *was* a thing back in the aughts, it still is a thing for me now in 2023.]

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