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"I Shall Be Released" is a 1967 song written by Bob Dylan.

The Band played it on their debut album, Music from Big Pink (1968), with Richard Manuel singing lead vocals, and Rick Danko and Levon Helm harmonizing in the chorus. A legendary performance of the song was performed near the end of The Band's farewell concert, The Last Waltz, in which all the night's performers (with the exception of Muddy Waters) plus Ringo Starr and Ronnie Wood graced the same stage.

Bob Dylan recorded two primary versions. The first is the Basement Tapes initial recording, recorded in 1967 and released on Bootleg Series 1-3 in 1991. Dylan recorded the song a second time in 1971, releasing this new recording on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II.

Published, print



Other versions

"I Shall Be Released" has been covered many times by many different artists.

  • One of the earliest recorded versions of the song was Joan Baez's cover, which she included on her 1968 Dylan tribute album Any Day Now (the title of the album coming from a line in the song). Baez also frequently performed the song live, often dedicating it to political prisoners.


  • Another early version came from the Tremeloes, whose version was released as a single in the UK in November 1968 and reached No. 29. Although this was a disappointing chart performance when compared to their other singles of that year, they continued to feature it in their live set for some years. Around the same time the Marmalade, who were close friends of theirs and with whom they shared management, recorded it for their first album, "There's a lot of it about".


  • "I Shall Be Released" was also used by Bette Midler as the closing song of her concert tours throughout the mid to late 1970s. The hopeful message connected with her large following of gay fans that related the lyrics to being released from discrimination. Midler included the recording on her second, self-titled LP, Bette Midler, as well as a live version on her concert film Divine Madness as part of a medley with The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want".




  • The Byrds played the song in many concerts including Live at The Boston Tea Party on February 22, 1969. Released by Yellow Dog Records in Hungary as YD 045. citation.










  • A version by reggae artist Jacob Miller appears on his 1989 Collectors Classics album.


  • The Heptones included this on their Party Time LP in 1977.




  • Wilco played this song fifteen times on their A Ghost Is Born tour from December 31, 2004 to October 22, 2005.




  • On April 21, 2007, Jack Johnson and various other artists including Ernie Cruz, The Girlas, and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder performed the song live at the Kokua Festival in Honolulu, Hawaii.


  • The Slackers (New York based ska band) made a cover of the song on their album Peculiar released in 2006


  • Sopa de Cabra (Catalan rock group from Girona, Catalonia, Spain) adapted the song into Catalan for the album El Nits Dels Anys, released in 2003.






  • Clammbon, a Japanese group with pop and jazz influences, also has a version of the song on their cover album, Lover Album.


  • The Deftones, a hard rock group, released a version of the song.


  • Miriam Makeba has recorded a medley of this song and "Thulasizwe".


  • The Hollies recorded it on their Hollies Sing Dylan album.




  • Marion Williams recorded it in 1995.




  • The Heptones, among many other reggae artists did a reggae version of this song on their Sea of Love album and a second version on their Party Time album.




  • The Sweet 'N' Juicy Tomats, as in Tomatoes, did a 7:23 cover of the song on their 2008 self-titled debut, adding several instrumental sections.


  • Performed as a duet by Sharleen Spiteri (Texas) and Stephan Eicher for the French TV show Taratata in 1995






  • U2 have performed the song many times in concert and have recorded a version.


  • Wilco and Fleet Foxes recorded a live cover and released it free on the internet to users who pledged to vote in the 2008 American Presidential election.


  • Matt Butcher & the Revolvers, a band from Orlando, are currently ending their concerts with this song.


  • The Wood Brothers played the song live with Amos Lee at 88.5 WXPN's World Cafe in Philadelphia on January 17, 2007.


  • Aaron Neville also covered this song on his CD 'Gospel Roots: Holiday Edition'.






Personnel on The Band version




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