Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower

The most fitting tribute I can think of to our new poet laureate – my current favourite version of one of his greatest poem/historical novels by the immortal Eddie Vedder. It sums up the reason Dylan is one of our greatest literary figures – in this short verse he creates a whole world, a drama bigger than Game of Thrones and a cast of characters that fire the imagination.

 

All Along the Watchtower

I am currently doing a course in world music at Open2Study and the teacher (Dr Dave) started talking about the differences between the Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan versions of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower. It got me thinking. There have been many, many versions of this great song, which I have always loved. There are some I hate – the Bryan Ferry version comes to mind – and some I can take or leave – Bruce Springsteen, Santana and the Allmon Brothers both sound kind of turgid – but as I dug through YouTube, I began to see the possibilities…

I have always believed All Along the Watchtower to be cinematic – it begs to be a movie. When Bob Dylan first released it, it had a synopsis quality – a movie pitch, with a clanging cliffhanger at the end. It wasn’t the full script, but you could make out the characters and get a feel for the action…

Then Jimi Hendrix did it, and it was a movie, cinenamascope and technicolor, shot in a rugged Scottish location, with Sean Connery swinging a sword and a kilt, Michael Caine as the Joker and David Bowie as the Thief.

Eric Clapton and Lenny Kravitz made it glitzy and CGI, you could see Jennifer Lawrence as the Thief and Lenny himself as the Joker, arrows flying everywhere, and one of the Hemsworths providing the muscle.

And then there is Eddie – Eddie Vedder turned it into a rampaging, slay all before it HBO series with Sean Bean striding the watchtower, Lena Headey leading the women, Peter Dinklage as the Thief and Jerome Flynn as the Joker. Now this is the one I want to see!