Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Un(der) Known Elvis, Part 2: Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow Is A Long Time"

A 1966 cover by Elvis Presley of a Bob Dylan classic from 1963. Dylan himself called it his favorite alternative version of his song.

From the "Bob Dylan Who's Who" website (

"It is hardly necessary to introduce Elvis Aron Presley (Tupelo,
Mississippi, 1935 - Memphis, Tennessee, 1977), but the significance of
the musical links between Elvis and Bob Dylan is often underestimated.
Even though the King's immortal triumphs were as an interpreter, not a
songwriter, there is a good case for the view that Dylan's work has
rather more in common with Presley's than the Beatles':

it is well known that on his recovery from his 1997 illness Dylan told
the world, 'I really thought I'd be seeing Elvis soon.' Dylan mentions
Elvis by name in 'TV Talkin' Song' (on 'Under The Red Sky'), in the
line 'Sometimes you gotta do like Elvis did and shoot the damn thing
out' (this is a reference to a real incident when the King fired into
a TV at his Graceland mansion). The country and blues influences that
pervade Presley's early work are also crucial for Bob Dylan, and both
artists have made major contributions to the gospel genre.

The list of standards officially covered by both artists includes
'Blue Moon', 'Can't Help Falling In Love', 'A Fool Such As I' and
'Tomorrow Night'. Elvis' discography includes covers of Dylan's
'Tomorrow Is A Long Time', 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right',
'Blowin' in the Wind' and 'I Shall Be Released'.

Here's the connection to the Dylan original from his April 1963 "Town Hall" concert:


  1. I'm sure I posted a comment on here last night, I don't know what has happened to it? Anyway I was saying that according to Bob Dylan's own account in 'Chronicles' I think Elvis was always a major role model.

    Dylan always wanted to be a rock 'n' roll star like Elvis, but instead had to settle for the international guru, global poet laureate and spokesman for a generation status which must have been a terrible disappointment to him.

    I always thought Dylan's live version of Tomorrow is a Long Time (on his 1971 Greatest Hits Vol II album) is one of the best live songs he ever recorded, I much prefer his own version to Elvis's rendition.
    Actually I also prefer Rod Stewart's version too, but there we's a matter of what we are used to perhaps?

    Interesting stuff nevertheless, thanks for posting the King doing a song by the Son of God on this top of the patriarchal hits Doug.

  2. I couldn't find that live version on YouTube, but here is the original song from the early 1960s which I think is rather less poignant than the live one, but excellent all the same.

  3. Haivng not read "Chronicles" yet (No excuses here.) I was pleased, AA, to be reminded how much Elvis influenced Bob Dylan. I do know the mantle that was placed upon the younger man's shoulders--"international guru" sums it up nicely--by so many of his fans was not something he embraced.

    I've read that Bruce Springsteen was disappointed he was embraced rather like Elvis in the 1980's with his "Born in the USA" album and tour.He was really aiming closer to a Dylan persona when younger it is said, and "Born in the USA" was a misstep according to this theory. Albums like "Nebraska" and "Tunnel of Love" were closer to what he wanted, material not unlike what Dylan had done but of course original to his own life.

    But such are the whims and displeasures of fame. (I'm guessing.)

    Reminds me of a line from Springsteen's early song "Badlands".

    "Poor Man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king
    And a King ain't satisfied till he rules everything."

    Preferences are just that--only preferences; they need no objective rationale, especially when we are talking about the giants of a musical era. I don't know what I would have thought of Elvis' version in 1966. Now it seems a fitting lament for a King who lost out for a time to the young in the 60's in the face of the popularity to Dylan and the best of the British Invasion bands. Now they are all safe in their various niches of the Great Cathedral. (Even the live ones.)

    This version of "Tomorrow is a Long Time" you posted sounds like it comes from an edgier and deeper place in Dylan's soul. Thanks for adding so much to this post, AA.

  4. I've just had a note here from a non-union "doug's site" staffer who checked with our Midwest office in Gary, Indiana. Your comment was somehow sent by Multiply acciddently to the computer of a Mrs. Erma Funk of Cleveland, who is by serendipity the chairman of the Cayahoga County Elvis Appreciation Society.

    I will ask her to mark it "Return to Sender" in honor of the subject of this blog.

  5. Well damn it Doug, I only joined the Cayahoga County Elvis Appreciation Society last week myself....This synchronicity thing never knows when to stop does it?

  6. You can't make that up how connected we all are...gets me all misty-eyed sometimes, AA.

    "It's a Small World After All", as they say down at Disneyland!