Thoughts on Original:
"Drifters Escape" is a fun small song on John Wesley Harding coming after the long and rambling "Ballad of Frankie Lee & Judas Priest" and the toss off "Dear Landlord". It falls somewhere between those two and is probably a better song then both because of that, it has mystery, powerful lyrics and a strong performance. It must mean a lot to Bob since he choose to never play it live until a few days after the Rodney King verdict in Oregon on 4-30-1992. Trials and verdicts not the best at doing what they both should...
Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Umm....He's Jimi Hendrix. He is the best Electric Guitar player in Rock and Roll History...Those are my thoughts. On a personal note he is the gateway artist who broke me through to really great music out there, maturing me as a fan.
Thoughts on Cover:
We never got a around to Hendrix's most famous cover of Dylan in our Best of (maybe he will make the cut this year) but "Drifters Escape" has a hard big brother to follow when it comes to these two hooking up on tunes. There may have never been a better combo and Hendrix death hurts as the two could have continued the covers or even better Hendrix would have probably toured with Dylan at some point...which would have been super interesting...anyway..
This version is dynamite and wasn't even made for public consumption. Given more time, a studio to toil around in and a few vocal re-do's this could have become an all-time classic. As it stands today it is still a damn fine version:
Bob Dylan still believes that Jimi Hendrix's cover of "All Along the Watchtower" trumped the original. Yet this cover of "Drifter's Escape" sounds so much like a stab at Hendrix's "Watchtower" that - way up here in the future - I'm inclined to believe that some Mac-equipped teenager mashed up Hendrix's voice to posthumously manufacture it.
This wasn't meant for release, so any critique must be limited...but like all great talents, Hendrix either owns his form or entirely dispossess it. On "Drifter's Escape", Hendrix's guitar crashes upon the track while his voice runs off in another direction...apart, they are two forces of nature, together, on this track, they never catch up with each other and it leaves the end-product stilted...and we're left to wonder what could have been with a sober sound engineer and few more takes.
I believe I have talked about John Wesley Harding here before, so I am going to get straight to the cover. There aren't many artists who compete with Bob Dylan for my highest affections, but my admiration for Jimi may even exceed my regard for Bobby D. I learned to love music listening to my parents' LPs, primarily releases from these two artists. As a result, it is impossible for me to be objective here. Hendrix was the complete package - he had the song crafting ability of a Dylan or a Simon and he was a transcendent instrumentalist. He was a true, hardcore fan of Dylan's music and you can see the lyrical influence in several of his songs.
His version of "Drifter's Escape" is like a lot of his unfinished studio work, unpolished, but still a diamond all the same. In addition to "All Along the Watchtower", I'd love to see his spectacular version of "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" featured here some time in the future. Get your hands on as much Jimi Hendrix as you can.