7 Songs You Didn’t Know Bob Dylan Wrote That Were Made Famous By Other Artists

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

His verses have been compared to that of the classical Greek and Roman poets Virgil, Homer, and Ovid. His fluid melodies of folk, blues, and rock laid the foundation for music as we know it today. His commentary on societal issues became anthems for civil rights and anti-war movements.

And he created this type of music over and over again.

Because of this, Bob Dylan‘s work as a singer/songwriter has spread farther than most can identify. And, over the course of his career, many of Dylan’s songs have built up the careers of other artists. George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, and others have all adopted a Bob Dylan song that became a hit.

Below, American Songwriter takes a look at some of these songs that Dylan wrote but that were ultimately made famous by other artists.


“Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show
Written by Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor

Released as the lead single for Old Crow Medicine Show’s self-titled, debut record in 2004, “Wagon Wheel” quickly became the band’s signature song. The song itself came together over the course of a few decades. Dylan had recorded the chorus in 1973, and Secor finished out the song in 2003 after hearing a bootleg recording of the song. “Most of all, the reason why that song is so popular is because of Bob Dylan and his magical touch,” Secor said in 2014. “Bob Dylan cast a spell with every song he made, particularly in 1973, when he wrote that chorus.”

“If Not For You” by George Harrison
Written by Bob Dylan

Dylan first wrote “If Not For You” as a love song for his first wife Sara Dylan. The track was then first released on Dylan’s 11th studio album New Morning in 1970. Then just a few months after Dylan’s release, George Harrison (who was fresh off of The Beatles’ breakup) released his own recording of the song.

“All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix
Written by Bob Dylan

The summary: Dylan did it first, but Hendrix gave it a life of its own. Read more about the story behind “All Along the Watchtower” HERE.

“Make You Feel My Love” by Adele
Written by Bob Dylan

“Make You Feel My Love” has actually become part of the standard repertoire for musicians. In fact, the song had been covered over 450 times. Garth Brooks, Kelly Clarkson, Michael Bolton, and Neil Diamond have all covered the track, but Adele’s rendition of the song has garnered the most attention in recent years. Adele released “Make You Feel My Love” on her debut album 19, and it has since been certified Gold in the United States.

“The Mighty Quinn” by Manfred Mann
Written by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan wrote and released “The Mighty Quinn” in 1967. It’s widely believed that Dylan took inspiration from Anthony Quinn’s role as an Eskimo in the 1960 movie The Savage Innocents for the track. Then in 1968, the English rock band Manfred Mann released their version of the song and titled it “Mighty Quinn.” This version of the song charted at the number one spot on the U.K. singles chart and number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Wanted Man” by Johnny Cash
Written by Bob Dylan

In 1969, Dylan wrote “Wanted Man” for The Man in Black. The track appeared on Cash’s At San Quentin album, but little else is known about its composition. We do know, from their correspondences, that in addition to being collaborators, Dylan and Cash developed a friendship. Cash was also a frequent and vocal supporter of Dylan’s work.

“Farewell, Angelina” by Joan Baez
Written by Bob Dylan

After writing “Farewell, Angelina” Dylan attempted to record the song for his 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home, but quickly abandoned it. Folk singer Joan Baez, however, picked up the song, shortened it, and released her version of “Farewell, Angelina” over 20 years later. The track became one of Baez’s staple songs, and she continued to perform it live well into the 2010s.

Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images

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  1. And why no mention of Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”? Or the Byrd’s “Mr Tambourine Man”? That’s where it all began for putting Dylan into the mainstream. I believe those were truly “kickstarter” moments for his career.

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