After a brief hiatus, Cover Wars is back. What can I say? I went on vacation for a week to Chicago over New Year’s and I left you guys without a playlist of covers of the same song to listen to at work. How you got by, I will never know. If you can remember, our last edition looked at covers of Hey Bulldog and Toad The Wet Sprocket has emerged victorious. Color me surprised, though they did do a great job with the song.
This week I have selected The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down from The Band’s self-titled second album, which was released in 1969. The song, which tells a civil war story, was ranked by Rolling Stone as the 245th greatest song of all time, nestled between Gimme Some Lovin’ and (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.
As always, be sure to register/login to IMEEM before starting the playlist below to ensure you stream full-length clips.
READ ON after the jump for a look at this week’s contestants…
The Allman Brothers Band: The ABB contributed this track to the 2007 tribute album Endless Highway. Warren Haynes singing “harmony” always makes me chuckle. He’s certainly always on pitch, but his voice is so distinct and strong it never blends in with the rest. If you’ve never heard this disc it’s worth a listen for a few really solid tracks including Guster’s This Wheel’s On Fire, My Morning Jacket’s It’s Makes No Difference and Death Cab For Cutie’s Rocking Chair. Source: Endless Highway – The Music of The Band
Big Country: “If it’s not Scottish – it’s crap!” Sorry, old SNL skit that slips out anytime I think of something Scottish. This band from Scotland released this cover on a 1996 studio release. Source: Eclectic
Live at Dingwall’s:
The Black Crowes: This is an old staple in the Crowes cover repertoire and is still played today with the current lineup. Source: 12-15-1996 via Cover Me With A Good Dream – 5 disc covers compilation
From the DVD Freak N Roll into the Fog (2006)
The Decemberists: There is some banter – that I cut off – after this track where these guys joke about becoming a pub band because they know some Steve Miller and two songs by The Band. There are also a couple horn players guesting on this song as well as some Decemberists originals earlier in the set. Source: 7-22-2007
Joan Baez: Baez has undoubtedly the most famous cover of this song. Joan also butchers the lyrics, lots of them. She has said that all she did was sing what she heard and never saw any transcribed lyrics. There’s no “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” in here, but there are lots of missing/changed words. Baez originally recorded this song in 1971. Source: Blessed Are…
You gotta love Muppet Show appearances:
Johnny Cash: This was originally recorded by The Man In Black in 1974. Since I found this song on IMEEM and didn’t upload it myself, I only know it’s from a Greatest Hits album, but I believe it’s also the original version recorded in ’74. Source: John R. Cash
Excerpt from the Johnny Cash history of the American Railroad documentary Ridin’ The Rails
Legion Of Mary: It’s easy to make this a 7+ minute song when you play it as slow as Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders do here. There is a recorded version by Merl Saunders (and Jerry) on a Saunders disc titled Fire Up from 1973 that curiously is mostly instrumental with Garcia singing only the second verse. Source: 12-15-1974 via The Garcia Discs/Jerry Compilation
Phil Lesh & Friends: Phil has always understood the magical wonders of The Internet. He’s been supplying the fans with selections of free SBDs since the earliest Phil & Friends shows. This is a recording he released from a show at the Nokia Theater in New York City, Jackie Greene supplies the lead vocals. Source: 11-6-2007
Richie Havens: The man that played the first set at Woodstock is no stranger to covering the greats. I saw Havens for the first time at the Newport Folk Festival this year, and he’s still got it! Source: Live At The Cellar Door
Tea Leaf Green: This is the only recording of TLG performing this tune on the LMA. It’s a great sounding tape from an all acoustic show, so if you like what you hear… go check out the whole show. Source: 1-20-2005
And that’s all we’ve got this week. There are more covers out there for sure, but I selected ten good ones. If you’ve made it this far, please scroll back up and place your vote for the version you think is best. If you’re favorite version didn’t make the cut this week, let us know by leaving a comment below…
The night they drove ole Dixie down, all the bells were ringing
The night they drove ole Dixie down, all the people were singing
Na, na na na na na na, na na na na na na, na na na na na na