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Hear Bob Dylan Cover Hank Williams’ ‘On the Banks of the Old Pontchartrain’ for the First Time

He broke out the 1947 classic in New Orleans, just a few miles from the banks of Lake Pontchartrain

Bob Dylan‘s Rough and Rowdy Ways tour touched down Monday night at the Sanger Theatre in New Orleans. The venue is just a little under six miles from Lake Pontchartrain, which is probably why Dylan decided to break out the 1947 Hank Williams classic “On the Banks of the Old Pontchartrain” for the first time in his career. It was a tender rendition that he delivered in a remarkably clear voice.

Dylan became a fan of Hank Williams at a very young age. “I remember hearing’ Hank Williams one or two years before he died [in 1953],” Dylan told Rolling Stone‘s Kurt Loder in 1984. “And that sort of introduced me to the guitar. And once I had the guitar, nothing else was ever a problem.” The impact on his life was incalculable. “If it wasn’t for Elvis Presley and Hank Williams,” Dylan told Robert Shelton in 1978, “I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.”

He didn’t play many Williams songs during his coffee house days in the early Sixties, but he has covered “Wait for the Light to Shine,” “Honky Tonk Blues,” “Lonesome Whistle,” “House of Gold,” “You Win Again,” and “Hey, Good Lookin’” throughout the course of the Never Ending Tour.

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Dylan’s setlist over the past few months has been pretty rigid, and the focus remains tunes from 2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways. But he has sprinkled in many surprise covers like Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven,” Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To The End of Love,” and John Mellencamp’s “Longest Days.”

The tour continues tonight in Lafayette, Louisiana, at the Heymann Performing Arts Center. It’s impossible to predict what surprise song he might cover, but our vote is for the 1980 Lucinda Williams song “Lafayette.” He’s never covered a Lucinda Williams song, and this is the perfect chance.

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