But then, I'm a BobSnob from way back. I remember aged 13 or 14 dissing The Animals' version of House of the Rising Sun on the grounds that ... well, it wasn't by Bob. "You haven't heard the song until you've heard Bob do it" I told my yawning schoolfriends. Of course, the fact that Dylan's recording was itself a cover had escaped me at the time. And I'm afraid I also had a copy of Peter, Paul & Mary's album which included Blowin' in the Wind, so I was gloriously inconsistent even then!
In fact, 50 years later, I am happy to acknowledge that there is nothing definitive or authoritative about an original version per se, even an original version by Bob. Bob himself re-invents his songs each time he performs them and is on record as saying that he never does a song the same way twice. He has paid tribute to Jimi's cover of All Along the Watchtower, and his subsequent performances of that song are closer to Hendrix than his original. He has given his blessing to interpretations of his songs by artists as different as Odette (Tomorrow is a long time) and Fairport Convention (Percy's Song), the Grateful Dead (Postcards of the Hanging) and Hugues Aufray (N'y pense plus, tout et bien).
Indeed, what we admire about Bob's work is that the songs feature at least seven types of ambiguity. They speak to us on so many levels, and they are capable of infinite interpretations. Like Bob himself, we respond to a given work in different ways at different times.
So in the same way I don't believe that a Glenn Gould performance of Bach is inferior to an original perfomance by JSB himself, I don't believe that a Bob original is by definition superior to anyone else's version.
There are both innovators and interpreters in music. Bach was an innovator; Sinatra was 'only' an interpreter, but that is not to diminish his contribution to our lives.
It's just that Bob Dylan, like Miles Davis, is both. He creates, he innovates and he interprets - his own work and that of others.
Since you ask, there are a number of cover versions which I prefer to the original. Not the Hendrix, you may be surprised to learn. Not any of the Dead's versions, either, excellent though most of them are. And not - sorry, Cass - that Adele monstrosity.
The ones I prefer will vary from day to day. But, right now, if I had to choose, it would be a version of Ballad of a Thin Man performed in Carcassonne last July. And yes, it was by Bob Dylan and his Band. I can hear it in my head, every dimissive syllable and every Charlie Sexton riff, as I type.
Today's listening: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan - A Folk Tribute. A Radio 2 show, with contemporary folk singers recreating the great album. For people "who like to hear the guitar strings being played"; by people "who lean forward a bit when they play". Some good covers ...