The kind of love Bruce Springsteen has for Bob Dylan is almost religious. Springsteen may well be The Boss but he knows the company was started by the freehweelin’ troubadour himself. It’s why over the years Springsteen has provided some incredible covers of Dylan.
Below, we’re taking a trip back to 1988 to revisit a sensational performance from Springsteen as he takes on arguably Dylan’s most famous and widely loved song. In front of the microphone, Springsteen provides a near-perfect rendition of ‘Blowin in the Wind’.
It’s been well-documented over the year, Springsteen was and still is a huge Bob Dylan fan. The ‘Born To Run’ singer once recalled, when inducting Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, that the first time he heard a Bob Dylan album (Highway 61 Revisited, back in 1965), Dylan’s performance “thrilled and scared me.”
The singer continued: “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.”
Later in the speech he proclaimed, Bob Dylan “was the brother that I never had,” quoting from the man’s own song ‘Lenny Bruce’. It was a moment of gratitude from one rock star to the other, one currently dominating the charts and one gravitating towards his legendary status. It was clearly a moment that stayed with Springsteen as, later that year, he paid proper tribute to the legend.
While The Boss has covered quite a few of Dylan’s songs none are quite as powerful as this one. Featuring on Dylan’s sophomore album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the track remains as one of the most poignant and potent protest songs ever written. For that reason alone, anybody singing it can feel a touch hacky.
Somehow, Springsteen not only encapsulates the feeling of the time it was written in but he also takes the track by the scruff of the neck and almost makes it his own, perhaps neglecting to do so out of respect. Performed at Chateau de Vincennes in Paris on June 18th, 1988, the rendition is utterly moving.
Springsteen manages to provide a devoted homage to Dylan with this cover. Far from a karaoke version of a timeless classic, Springsteen understands the inner workings of not only the song but the songwriter and because of this provides perhaps the definitive cover of the track.