Bob Dylan “was the brother that I never had,” said Bruce Springsteen, quoting from Dylan’s own song “Lenny Bruce,” when he inducted Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. He also said that when he heard a Dylan album for the first time (Highway 61 Revisited, in 1965), Dylan’s voice “thrilled and scared me. It made me feel kind of irresponsibly innocent. And it still does. But it reached down and touched what little worldliness I think a 15-year-old kid, in high school, in New Jersey had in him at the time.”
With Dylan about to turn 75 on Tuesday (May 24), it seemed like a good time to look back at all the Dylan songs Springsteen has covered over the years. It’s more than you might think, just because Springsteen hasn’t done many of them very often. “Chimes of Freedom” has appeared in his setlists the most times (35, all between 1978 and 1988), followed by “I Want You” (12 times, all between 1973 and 1975). Source: brucebase.wikispaces.com.
Here they are, in chronological order.
“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” A rough-edged but haunting version, live with the pre-E Street Band group, The Bruce Springsteen Band, in Richmond, in 1972.
“I Want You.” Live with the E Street Band at the Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pa., Feb. 5, 1975.
“Ballad of Easy Rider.” Song co-written by Dylan and former Byrds leader Roger McGuinn. With the E Street Band at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Aug. 20, 1981.
“Blowin’ in the Wind.” At Château de Vincennes in Paris, June 18, 1988.
“Chimes of Freedom.” With the E Street Band at Idrætsparken in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 25, 1988.
“Highway 61 Revisited.” Acoustic version with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt at the Christic Institute Benefit Concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Nov. 16, 1990.
“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” With Wolfgang Niedecken and his band at Cafe Eckstein in Berlin, Germany, July 9, 1995.
“Forever Young.” With Bob Dylan and Dylan’s band at the Concert for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame at Cleveland Stadium, Sept. 2, 1995.
“The Times They are a-Changin’.” Solo acoustic version, performed when Dylan received Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 7, 1997.
“All Along the Watchtower.” With Neil Young and the E Street Band at the Vote for Change concert at the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., Oct. 5, 2004.
“Mr. Tambourine Man.” With McGuinn and the E Street Band at the Amway Arena in Orlando, April 23, 2008.
“Like Rolling Stone.” With the E Street Band at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, May 19, 2009.
I have included only one version of each song though, in some cases, there are multiple versions of a song, recorded at different points of Springsteen’s career, and with different collaborators.
I know of only two other Dylan songs that Springsteen has performed: “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” which Springsteen’s group Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom covered at two 1971 concerts; and “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” which Springsteen performed with Dylan and Neil Young at a Dylan concert at the Roseland Ballroom in New York in 1994.