August 2021 u-turn:
Salut! Live makes no claims of great consistency. Like most people, I change my mind quite a lot. I said in an earlier update that if I had second thoughts about this song, they would involve recognising Dylan’s version of his own work as superior to the Stones’ (or Hendrix’s). I must already have been having doubts. Repeated listening has established the original as my favourite, just as happened when I returned to Dylan’s treatment of Percy’s Song after swearing for years that Fairport Convention did it better.
Since posting, all the clips seem to be viewable only by following the link to YouTube. Easily enough done but I’ll see if I can restore one or more of them to their embedded form …
June 2021 added thoughts: hardly an update as you'll find all I have to say in this short piece and some very astute comments posted by readers when the article originally appeared earlier in the Cover Story series ... just to confirm that I do love and have always loved Dylan singing his own song but, on this occasion, love the Stones' version just a little bit more (or did; see above). This has prompted a mostly great discussion (and mostly opposed to my view) at the Bob Dylan Fan Club at Facebook; one chap asked 'who gives a ****?' but with 86 comments at the last count. some apparently do. And I've added a Jimi Hendrix version mentioned my several people - it's very good but if I change my mind, it'll be more likely to be to revert to Dylan (again, see above).
Bob was 80 last month. Salut! Live ran a series of items that was never meant to stretch as far as it did. But I am pleased with how it turned out: the series offers some excellent reading - and listening - and I invite you to explore it at your leisure: https://www.salutlive.com/dylan-at-80/
Image: Jim Pietryga via Wikipedia
And now the original article..
Salut! Live limps back into life with another entry in the Cover Story series comparing and contrasting different versions of the same song.
Many years ago in Paris, maybe 2006, I paid a fortune for tickets to see the Rolling Stones at the Stade de France.
I can enjoy stadium rock - Coldplay in Nice and Lyon were superb and I've seen impressive clips of other bands in other places - and the Stones' concert was excellent. I have not seen them live since but a review in my local paper when I'm in France, the Var-Matin (ahead of a Marseille gig, but based on a London show attended by the writer), noted that Ronnie Wood was getting better and better with the passing of years, while Keith Richards was not.
See the entire Cover Story series at this link
There was much in the Stade de France performance to appreciate. Jagger was super-fit, charging around the stage and its offshoots as nimbly as an athlete of 20.
He took care to speak French between songs - always appreciated when Anglo-Saxons play to audiences in France - and a generous selections of hits kept the crowd enthused and engaged.
But the musical highlight of the evening for me came after the show had ended and we were making our way our of the stadium.
At an unofficial merchandise stall, a ghetto blaster was playing the Stones' version of the Bob Dylan song Like a Rolling Stone.
This had not been on the concert playlist - much to my regret since it is perhaps the Stones, for me, at their best.
It is always risky to challenge Dylan and suggest anyone else can make a better job of any of his songs. But I have always believed that to be the case, much as I still enjoy his originals of probably most of his work.
And I have no problem with his version of Like a Rolling Stone, one of the songs that marked his departure from folk and even folk-rock and immersion in rock and one of two examples of that transition, the other being Positively 4th Street, that I most admire in post-acoustic Dylan. I heard his first and no other versions until the Stones covered it.
I can listen to both with great pleasure - hence the absence of a question mark in the headline - but simply prefer it by the Stones. And now I expect to be shot down in flames.
And now, having been gently nudged at Facebook, I add the same song, but by the much-missed Jimi Hendrix ....