Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) (2:45)

Cover of Bob Dylan: The Collection

From Bob Dylan: The Collection and 22 other releases

Manfred Mann’s “Mighty Quinn” was released in 1968, while Dylan’s own version was released as a live track two years later on his album Self Portrait. Dylan first recorded a version of the song with The Band during a then-secret recording session that would later produce Dylan’s album The Basement Tapes. However, that album was not released until 1975 and left out tons of songs recorded during those sessions. Interestingly, “Quinn the Eskimo” (Dylan’s original title) was inspired by a film—The Savage Innocents, in which Anthony Quinn played an Eskimo—and eventually inspired a film itself—The Mighty Quinn.

When Manfred Mann first heard the song (Dylan was giving demo tapes to other artists), they didn’t think the song would become a hit. After all, the song is about an Eskimo named Mighty Quinn who will come to town and apparently bring joy (and sleep). Mike D’Abo of Manfred Mann said, “I have never had the first idea what the song is about except that it seems to be ‘Hey, gang, gather round, something exciting is going to happen ‘cause the big man’s coming.’ As to who the big man is and why he is an Eskimo, I don’t know.”

D’Abo’s record player played the song too fast which sped up the tempo. That was not the only issue they had while trying to record the song. Dylan’s demo was so intelligible at some points that the group had to guess the lyrics (“guarding fumes” turned into “jumping queues”), and at the beginning of the third verse, they had to completely make up their own lyrics. D’Abo claimed it was like “learning a song phonetically in a foreign language.”

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  • Lord_Kur

    all versions are great.

    22 Feb 2012 Reply
  • Hetfield55

    that was recorded live at the Isle of Wight concert - that's way it sounds that slammin and loose

    1 Aug 2010 Reply
  • Spikedhats

    but when Quinn the eskimo gets here, everybody's gonna doze.

    10 May 2010 Reply
  • progjunky

    what nobody says about self-portrait is...it's got the most slammin'-est version of quinn the eskimo ever!

    7 Jan 2010 Reply
  • Druid66

    Dylan not on top of his game is still Dylan on top of everybody else's game. I like the funky vibe here, even if Manfred's version is slightly more to my liking - this really cooks, in its own sloppy way. Is that Robbie, Garth, Rick and Levon playing on this>

    28 Mar 2009 Reply
  • mandryka

    "Stoned" is an understatement... Better listen to Rainy Day Woman...

    27 Nov 2008 Reply
  • PaquitoMate

    Manfred Mann has a great version: "The Mighty Quinn"

    10 Nov 2008 Reply
  • Kirill88

    Ага, или бухим!

    18 Oct 2008 Reply
  • Kevonetwothree

    Bob sounds stoned in this song. The great thing is that he still sounds FUCKING awesome.

    28 Jun 2008 Reply

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