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(Un)Covered: Mr. Tambourine Man

“Mr. Tambourine Man”
Writers: Bob Dylan
Original Release Date: March 22, 1965

Let me play you a song called “Mr. Tambourine Man”, because I’m not sleepy, and there is no place I’m going to.

“Mr. Tambourine Man” is one of Bob Dylan’s earlier songs, released a few years after he legally changed his name from Robert Allen Zimmerman and started on his path to being an iconic singer-songwriter. It’s a soothing, mellow song with whimsical lyrics—phrases like “jingle jangle morning” and “take me on a trip upon your magic swirling ship” are woven into the song like words to a spell—and simple instrumentation. While Dylan’s version is the original, The Byrds’ upbeat cover—released in the same year on their debut album—is considered the starting point for folk rock as we know it.

In 2012, Andrew McMahon (back when he still went under the “Jack’s Mannequin” moniker) contributed a cover to the Bob Dylan tribute album, Chimes of Freedom. His take on “Mr. Tambourine Man” is more piano-based (of course it is), and it gives the song a touch more energy than the very mellow original. There are more instruments in this cover, and it gives the song a unique feeling; because it has the same type of imagery and heartfelt lyrics as most of McMahon’s work, it fits right in with his extensive discography.

I know it’s probably sacrilege to pick a cover over a Bob Dylan original, but as I’ve always loved Andrew McMahon’s voice, I’m going to have to say I prefer his version.

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