Ke$ha: Chimes of Freedom

I never expected to highlight Ke$ha on this website. However, her version of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” begs to be heard on the album Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.

Dylan is our greatest living contemporary poet and his words helped define the latter half of the 20th century. His songs have been covered countless times and this set of 75 additional versions featuring 80 artists from very diverse musical genres adds to the catalog.

Here is the tracklisting:

Raphael Saadiq: Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Patti Smith: Drifter’s Escape
Rise Against: Ballad of Hollis Brown
Tom Morello the Nightwatchman: Blind Willie McTell
Pete Townshend: Corrina, Corrina
Bettye LaVette: Most of the Time
Charlie Winston: This Wheel’s On Fire
Diana Krall: Simple Twist of Fate
Brett Dennen: You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
Mariachi El Bronx: Love Sick
Ziggy Marley: Blowin’ in the Wind
The Gaslight Anthem: Changing of the Guards
Silversun Pickups: Not Dark Yet
My Morning Jacket: You’re A Big Girl Now
The Airborne Toxic Event: Boots of Spanish Leather
Sting: Girl from the North Country
Mark Knopfler: Restless Farewell

Queens of the Stone Age: Outlaw Blues
Lenny Kravitz: Rainy Day Woman # 12 & 35
Steve Earle & Lucia Micarelli: One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)
Blake Mills: Heart of Mine
Miley Cyrus: You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
Billy Bragg: Lay Down Your Weary Tune
Elvis Costello: License to Kill
Angelique Kidjo: Lay, Lady, Lay
Natasha Bedingfield: Ring Them Bells
Jackson Browne: Love Minus Zero/No Limit
Joan Baez: Seven Curses (Live)
The Belle Brigade: No Time To Think
Sugarland: Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (Live)
Jack’s Mannequin: Mr. Tambourine Man
Oren Lavie: 4th Time Around
Sussan Deyhim: All I Really Want To Do
Adele: Make You Feel My Love (Recorded Live at WXPN)

K’NAAN: With God on Our Side
Ximena Sariñana: I Want You
Neil Finn with Pajama Club: She Belongs to Me
Bryan Ferry: Bob Dylan’s Dream
Zee Avi: Tomorrow Is a Long Time
Carly Simon: Just Like a Woman
Flogging Molly: The Times They Are A-Changin’
Fistful of Mercy: Buckets of Rain
Joe Perry: Man of Peace
Bad Religion: It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
My Chemical Romance: Desolation Row (Live)
RedOne featuring Nabil Khayat: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Paul Rodgers & Nils Lofgren: Abandoned Love
Darren Criss featuring Chuck Criss and Freelance Whales: New Morning
Cage the Elephant: The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Band of Skulls: It Ain’t Me, Babe
Sinéad O’Connor: Property of Jesus
Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project: Shelter From the Storm
Ke$ha: Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
Kronos Quartet: Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

Maroon 5: I Shall Be Released
Carolina Chocolate Drops: Political World
Seal & Jeff Beck: Like a Rolling Stone
Taj Mahal: Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream
Dierks Bentley: Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) (Live)
Mick Hucknall: One of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
Thea Gilmore: I’ll Remember You
State Radio: John Brown
Dave Matthews Band: All Along the Watchtower (Live)
Michael Franti: Subterranean Homesick Blues
We Are Augustines: Mama, You Been On My Mind
Lucinda Williams: Tryin’ To Get To Heaven
Kris Kristofferson: Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
Eric Burdon: Gotta Serve Somebody
Evan Rachel Wood: I’d Have You Anytime
Marianne Faithfull: Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Live)
Pete Seeger: Forever Young
Bob Dylan: Chimes of Freedom

Outernational: When the Ship Comes In
Silverstein: Song to Woody
Daniel Bedingfield: Man in the Long Black Coat

Everyone worked pro-bono and all proceeds help fund Amnesty International’s life-saving human rights work.

Obviously with an album of this scope there are some compelling versions, some of varying degrees of interest, some merely passable and some of lesser quality. Ke$ha’s take on “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” is an unexpected pleasure. With minimal instrumentation this otherwise bombastic pop star turns this song of loss into one of devastating heartbreak. Purists may be appalled but Ke$ha makes the song her own.