Bob Dylan: “Visions of Johanna”

Posted: February 8, 2018 in THE CLASH of Cover Tunes
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Tune du Jour: “Visions of Johanna” – Bob Dylan
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Grateful Dead vs. Robyn Hitchcock vs. Lee Ranaldo

You used to be so amused,
At Broccoli Man,
and the carrot for a guitar he used …



“You can tell the size of a man by the size of the thing that makes him mad.”

  Adlai Stevenson




Yeah I know this post requires a substantial investment of time. Blame it on Pete …

The Original

Bob Dylan:


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


Grateful Dead vs. Robyn Hitchcock vs. Lee Ranaldo
Grateful Dead:

Robyn Hitchcock:

Lee Ranaldo:

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. It is your solemn responsibility to decide which cover song prevails. In other words … Which Side Are You On?!!? 


  1. Kerry Black says:

    Three good versions. First up is Grateful Dead, and since I’m a fan, I thought they might get the vote. I see this is from March ’95. That would have been about four months before Jerry’s passing.

    Also liked the cover by Lee Ranaldo, although I didn’t know who he is. I see he was with Sonic Youth.

    I ultimately voted Robyn Hitchcock.

    Dubbs writes: “…this post requires a substantial investment of time. Blame it on Pete …”. True, but Pete also chose “Janie Jones”, where, as Cuspid points out, the three covers combined were less than six minutes.

  2. RDubbs says:

    I thought I would vote for Robyn Hitchcock but preferred the Grateful Dead’s cover then, surprisingly, ended up liking Lee Ranaldo’s version the best.

  3. Pete Black says:

    Yeah, OK , blame me for picking this crap song. But if the covers chosen were by The Screaming Imbeciles, The Bloody Baboon Asses and The National Monuments On Fire we would still have time on our hands. All versions are good to me although it seems strange to see a Grateful Dead song where the camera never shows anyone other than Jerry. I thought I might pick Robyn Hitchcock who is so loose with this song that he alters it a bit to fit the moment he is in but in a tight race I pick Lee Renaldo. He is known mostly as a guitarist. In 2004 Rolling Stone picked him #33 in greatest guitarists of all time. In 2012 Spin picked Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo as number one, counting them as a duo. I like Sonic Youth but that is absurd. Like Kerry said this is Jerry at the end of his life so none of the acrobatics, splits and manic duck-walking which characterized his earlier career.

  4. Pete Black says:

    I see Arnie came out of his coma, or maybe he was just shy after picking some tired war horses in his eight, but more Frankie would be nice. I assume Fouts is suspended for voting for The Rollers but no Mc Nulty or The Fabled Wonder? How about some women?

  5. Cuspid says:

    I liked this song when I first heard the original on the Blond On Blond album. My favorite Dylan version is the live one included on his Biograph compilation. As much as I like it and as often as I’ve heard it, I still have no idea what this song is about.

    I liked all 3 covers. I expected to vote for Robyn Hitchcock, as I always enjoy his solo acoustic covers. And this was no exception. I figured there was no way I was voting for the Grateful Dead since I think they are boring and one of the most over-hyped bands in rock history. But I’ll be damned because I totally enjoyed their version. I even found myself attracted to Garcia’s Mark Knopfler-like guitar fills, which REALLY shocked me since I have never thought there was anything even slightly remarkable about Garcia’s guitar playing.

    It just goes to show you that if you live past age 53 (which Garcia did not) you’ll still have an opportunity for musical discover and wonder.

  6. Arnold Plotnick says:

    Yes, I’m back, after eight weeks of exotic (and not so exotic) world travel. My trip was long, but not as long as these three interminable covers. Thankfully, I was eating a bowl of piping hot beef stew while listening, and having to wait a bit for the stew to cool down enough to eat it (lest I burn the roof of my mouth on a blazing hot chunk of carrot), it afforded me enough time to listen to all three versions. Hmmm…. where was I? Oh, right… which one did I like best…

    The Grateful Dead’s version made me yawn, as much of their music does. I like Robyn Hitchcock’s voice a lot, and hearing the song an octave higher than Dylan’s and Garcia’s was nice. But I went with Lee Ranaldo’s version, as I felt the backing band added some pizzaz to the song. Unfortunately, a flaming hot piece of potato from my stew burned my lower lip about halfway though the song, but I didn’t let that color my opinion, or my vote.

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