Sunday, February 7, 2016

Like a Rolling Stone

So I guess this has been a thing for ten years and I'm just now coming across it. In an effort to make up for lost time, I've listened to it on repeat for 5 hours now. And it's not getting old.

This is probably the finest cover of this great song I've ever heard—although that's actually kinda damning with faint praise, since I've heard a few good covers (Jimi Hendrix, Green Day), a couple okay (the Rolling Stones' version actually was better than I'd expected if still not exactly transcendent) and a bunch of terrible (John Mayer, sure, but David Gilmour?! What were you thinkin', man?), but few if any great. (Maybe Hendrix simply set the bar too high with "All Along the Watchtower," but I find his "Like a Rolling Stone" good—of course it is, it's Jimi—but far from great).

But the Drive-By Truckers make this their own without changing a damn thing. The finest southern rock band since the heyday of the Allman Bros and Lynyrd Skynrd, one listen makes it clear that they've heard the original hundreds of times. And like Dylan, they're fluent in rock, country and blues, as well as alternative. And the fact that each verse is sung by a different band member is sheer gold, bringing to mind the glory days of The Band, not inappropriately. Having the finest singer-songwriter of the past decade, Jason Isbell, taking a verse certainly doesn't hurt, but so good are the others that his doesn't even (especially) stand out (much); Patterson Hood's Henleyesque voice fits perfectly, and the addition of Shonna Tucker is always a welcome one, while Mike Cooley's country punk caps things off perfectly. And when they all shout the final chorus, it brings it all home in a way the song hasn't often since being played fuckin' loud at the semi-apocryphal Royal Albert Hall gig.

So how does it feel? Pretty sweet, actually.

(Also, the pumpfake of the snare shot at the beginning's pretty damn funny.)


  1. I saw DBT at Summerfest on a whim, rolling by the stage they were playing in an late-afternoon slot. They fucking knocked me out, and I have little tolerance for the music genre I usually refer to as 'barf 'n' boogie'....

    I love when a band has traded vocals in a song, and perennial zombie obsessions the Mekons have done it several times...

  2. hey, have I mentioned that I have respectable seats for the River tour in March? End of the tour, but I think this Springfield fellow might have a future...