Song: “All Along the Watchtower”

Artist: Michael Hedges

Album: Watching My Life Go By

As a follow-up to last week’s post, I thought that I would address my somewhat disparaging statement that Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” was covered by every coffee shop strummer and sloppy bar band. While the song is built on a relatively simple chord progression that even the most pedestrian musician can stumble through, there have been many truly inspired versions of “All Along The Watchtower”.

While most people will point to Hendrix’s seminal recording of the song (and who could argue with Hendrix) as the standard bearer, it is my opinion that the acoustic version performed by the late Michael Hedges might be even better.

In the 80’s, Hedges released a string of instrumental, acoustic guitar recordings that were classified as new age. While some of his compositions were tranquil, he displayed an intensity and creative fire that could hardly be considered new age.

Hedges was known for his technical virtuosity and his use of a dizzying array of alternate guitar tunings. While most guitar players are aware of Hedges’ instrumental recordings, he was also an excellent singer, songwriter, and interpreter of other people’s material.

Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” may be epic, but Hedges’ take on the tune exudes a passion that knocks me out every time.

Whichever version you like better, we can all take comfort in the fact that both musicians probably came from Cylon lineage.

Who is your favorite acoustic guitarist?

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