10 of the best Bob Dylan covers of all time, from Adele to Simply Red

24 May 2021, 11:04 | Updated: 24 May 2021, 11:05

Bob Dylan covers

Bob Dylan is a true one-off, and fans have loved his unique and thought-provoking music for decades.

Countless artists have attempted to cover his songs over the years, which is no easy feat.

To celebrate the his 80th birthday this year (2021), we've selected our favourite Bob Dylan covers of all time, including some artists that perhaps you wouldn't have expected to have taken on the folk icon.

1. Adele - 'Make You Feel My Love'

As much as we love Bob, we're sure that even he would agree he doesn't exactly have the best 'voice' in the world!

However, he does write beautiful songs, and that's where an artist like Adele can step in. This was arguably the song that turned Adele from a popular singer to an international superstar, and you'd be forgiven for thinking it was an Adele original.

Bonus fact: Billy Joel actually released the song first, before Bob's own version was available to hear.

2. George Harrison - 'If Not for You'

Bob first recorded this song in a session with his future Travelling Wilburys bandmate George, and later in the same year the former Beatle made his own version on his All Things Must Pass album.

A year later, it was also a hit for Olivia Newton-John!

3. The Byrds - 'Mr Tambourine Man'

Bob Dylan first recorded this song in 1965, and what seemed like a few minutes later The Byrds released their own version.

The folk rock band's harmonising vocals worked perfectly with the ballad, and it became one of their signature songs. We also have a soft spot for the William Shatner version. You heard that right.

4. Norah Jones - 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight'

Norah Jones could sing the phonebook and it would sound soothingly amazing, but this is one of her finest cover versions.

This song was also a top 10 hit in the UK for a collaboration between Robert Palmer and UB40.

5. Magnet - 'Lay Lady Lay'

Bob Dylan first wrote this song for the soundtrack of the movie Midnight Cowboy, but wasn’t submitted in time to be included in the finished film. 

This cover version is by Norwegian singer-songwriter Even Johansen, known as Magnet. Featuring English singer-songwriter Gemma Hayes on vocals, it was later used in the soundtrack for the 2005 movie Mr & Mrs Smith. And it's rather gorgeous.

6. Sam Cooke - 'Blowin' in the Wind'

One of Bob's most iconic songs, this is also one of the most famous protest songs, dealing with issues of peace, war and freedom of the time.

Many artists have covered it over the years, including soul legend Sam Cooke. Not only was he impressed enough by the song to start performing it, but it inspired him to compose 'A Change is Gonna Come'.

7. Simply Red - 'Positively 4th Street'

Yes, you might not have put Simply Red and Bob Dylan in the same area, but this works brilliantly.

Originally a Bob Dylan single in 1965, Mick Hucknall transformed it into a slice of adult contemporary pop for his 2003 album Home.

8. Jimi Hendrix - 'All Along the Watchtower'

You couldn't have a list like this without this cracker, which is often labelled the greatest cover version of all time, let alone best Dylan cover.

Recorded just six months after Dylan's original, Jimi's version is generally considered the definitive version, which is no mean feat.

9. Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and The Trinity - 'This Wheel's on Fire'

This song was originally written by Dylan with Rick Danko for his side-project The Band, and it was later covered by a variety of artists.

The biggest hit version in the UK was this from Julie Driscoll, which she later famously re-recorded with Ade Edmondson for the Absolutely Fabulous theme tune.

10. Elvis Presley - 'Tomorrow is a Long Time'

This song was first released on Dylan's second Greatest Hits volume in 1971, but he had been performing it as early as 1963.

In 1966, Elvis recorded his own version, which went down very well with Dylan. He said the cover of the song was "the one recording I treasure the most".