A Famous Encounter and “Like a Rolling Pin”

A “Talk of the Town” segment in The New Yorker featured a short profile of record producer Scott Litt, who had produced records by the likes of Nirvana and R.E.M. In the article, Litt told an interesting story about the first time he met Bob Dylan.

More than a few decades ago, Litt was producing a Replacements album, working in the studio with the band. Dylan was working on his own record nearby, so he stopped by to check out the Replacements.

When Dylan walked in the studio wearing a hoodie, it just happened to be the same time that the Replacements’ leader Paul Westerberg was singing a parody of Dylan’s hit song “Like a Rolling Stone” called “Like a Rolling Pin.”

Westerberg did not notice Dylan standing there, and Litt failed to alert the singer, who continued with the parody. Finally, when Westerberg finished, Dylan asked, “You guys rehearse much?” Then he left.

The lyrics to “Like a Rolling Pin” are nothing special, using phrases from Dylan’s original mixed with some small changes. I believe the song did not end up on the album at the time, appearing later with B-sides and unreleased tracks on All For Nothing/Nothing For All (1997). But the Replacements can sing the phone book and make it sound like a great song. So when they start off with a great Dylan song, one cannot complain.

More than twenty years later, Litt finally got to work with the singer of “Like a Rolling Stone” when he was the engineer for Dylan’s 2012 album Tempest. While working with Dylan on Tempest, Litt did not mention their previous studio encounter. [Nick Paumgarten, Hello, Bobby, The New Yorker, 1 Oct. 2012: 22-23.]

What is your favorite Bob Dylan cover? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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