That's probably not a salutation you encounter often. However, if you live in the northern half of the US and you're like me, then you're probably very sick of winter and cold and snow and yearning for warmer weather. Well, I may not be able to take the fact that we're out of January as a sign of imminent spring, but at least it means we're getting closer to it, and I'm finding that cause for joyous salutation!
You know, you might think that having to endure a long winter would inspire me to blog more, but it seems that my blogging activity has been much less over the past few months. The good news is that I have been busy actually doing the things I blog about (making music and actually writing), and if I have to choose, I'd rather be creative and not blog, than blog and not actually create. I just need more hours in the day to be able to do it all, I guess. :)
But I do want to keep this blog at least a little active, and the Battle of the Bands (BOTB) is one way to do that. Committing to posting on the 1st and 15th of each month means that you're guaranteed at least some new content on a semi-regular basis. Just in case you haven't seen my previous BOTB posts, let me explain that the BOTB is a blogging event started by Stephen T. McCarthy and FarAwayEyes back in August of 2013. This event occurs twice every month -- on the 1st and the 15th -- and each of the bloggers taking part offers readers a choice of two (or occasionally more) versions of the same song, performed by different recording artists. And the the readers get to vote for their favorite rendition.
Today, I'm going with a classic song that -- truthfully -- I'm surprised hasn't already been covered by one of the other BOTB bloggers: "All Along the Watchtower".
"All Along the Watchtower" was written by Robert Allen Zimmerman (aka 'Bob Dylan') in 1966 as one of many songs he wrote while recovering from a motorcycle accident. Dylan then recorded it in 1967 as part of his John Wesley Harding album. Here's Dylan's original 1967 version in a video that's sound only:
Jimi Hendrix was so impressed with the song that he recorded a version of it six months after John Wesley Harding was released, including it on the Electric Ladyland album in 1968. Here's that version:
The Hendrix version has a lot more production, definitely has some excellent guitar playing, and is probably the better-known version of the song, but is it really better than Dylan's original? What if there was a version of the song that combined stellar guitar playing with Dylan's original sparse arrangement? How about a solo acoustic rendition of the song? Well, here's a live version by acoustic guitar master Michael Hedges recorded at Wolf Trap in July, 1986:
A side note -- i you enjoy acoustic guitar and are unfamiliar with Michael Hedges, I encourage you to seek out some of his recordings. He was a phenomenal player who specialized in alternate-tunings, and who -- like Hendrix -- died at a much-too-young age. Hedges was 43 when he was killed in a car accident in 1997.
For this BOTB, I could post many, many more versions of "All Along the Watchtower" -- it's been covered in the studio and live by a myriad of musicians and there's even a very cool Indian-influenced version of it on the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack. Also, given it's catchy groove and three-chord simplicity, there are a gazillion self-made cover videos that have been uploaded to YouTube. You could spend days listening to versions of this song.
But what about Michael, Jimi, and the original composer, Bobby Z.? Who did it better? You get to decide in the comments below!
I invite you to listen to each and give them a chance. After listening, please vote in the comments as to which version you think is best, or which speaks to you the deepest. Feel free to also share as much as you would like about how any of the above recordings strike you, even if it's less than positive.
Then -- be sure to check out the other BOTB bloggers to vote on their battles:
- Far Away Series (FarAwayEyes)
- Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends (Stepehn T. McCarthy)
- Tossing it Out (Arlee Bird)
- Your Daily Dose (Robin)
- DiscConnected (DiscConnected)
And in the meantime -- keep thinking thoughts of spring!