At Mississippi Studios tonight, a veritable armada of Portland folk and country types pay tribute to Bob Dylan, who turns 72 years old tomorrow. To do this, they are doing something unheard of: covering Bob Dylan songs. This obscure Minnesota-born songwriter has probably never been covered before, so tonight should be really something.
I kid, I kid. Yes, the history of music is lousy with Bob Dylan covers, but this gang knows what it's doing. Take a look at the lineup: Portland Country Underground, Kory Quinn, Little Sue, Marisa Anderson, Lewi Longmire, Jim Brunberg, Ezza Rose, Brad Parsons, Santi Elijah Holley, Will West, David Lipkind, Scott Law, Joe McMurrian, Simon Tucker, Michael Sheridan, Boy & Bean, Suzanne Tufan, Amanda Breese, Ashleigh Flynn, WC Beck, Hunter Paye. Oh mercy!
In my shameful youth, I used to think that Dylan was only listenable when he was being covered by someone else. Back when I was first becoming familiar with Guns N' Roses' version of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower," I arrived the conclusion that Dylan could write a song but he sure as hell couldn't sing it. And that may be a popular opinion, but it is a wrong one—as I later discovered when I sat down with my mom's copy of Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits and all revealed itself. (Weed may have been involved.)
So in honor of tonight's many, many musicians covering Dylan, here's a link to one of my favorite Dylan covers, "Farewell Angelina" as performed by Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas, under the name Gods and Monsters. This beautiful, haunting version is a live track from a WFMU session in 1991, and it appeared on one of the station's fundraising compilation albums, but to my knowledge it hasn't been re-released on any of the countless posthumous Buckley albums. (I can't embed it, sorry, so you'll have to jump to Lucas' Soundcloud page to check it out, which is well worth doing.)
Speaking of Jeff Buckley, a movie about him and his father, Tim Buckley, opens tomorrow at the Hollywood. It's called Greetings from Tim Buckley, and it has some good moments—most of which center around the elder Buckley's songs—and it's also severely flawed. This is what I thought of it.
• Bob Dylan tribute tonight at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, 8 pm, $8-10
• Greetings from Tim Buckley at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy, opens Fri May 24, 9:15 pm nightly (Sat/Sun matinees at 3 pm)