Bob Dylan's "Mississippi" almost didn't see the light of day.
The song was initially intended to be on Time Out Of Mind
in 1997, but it was dropped from that album. Something about it just wasn't working in Dylan's mind. He very well could have discarded it permanently.
He did the same with "Blind Willie McTell
," a song that only snuck out to the public at first through bootlegs and is now considered one of his masterpieces. Another of Dylan's discarded scraps became "Wagon Wheel
" only because Old Crow Medicine Show resurrected it from the dust bin after hearing it on a bootleg.
According to many friends such as Joan Baez, Dylan is always tinkering and tossing stuff aside and forgetting about it. It wouldn't' be unusual at all for "Mississippi" to have disappeared.
Luckily, that didn't happen.
After the Time Out Of Mind
sessions, Dylan gave "Mississippi" to Sheryl Crow, who recorded it on her album The Globe Sessions
in 1998. Her version has much more of a standard pop sound than Dylan's does.
The Dixie Chicks took up "Mississippi" as a regular part of their live shows. Their version is clearly taken from Crow's.
Dylan himself revisited "Mississippi" for Love And Theft
after his manager requested something to change up the pace after "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum." Dylan returned to the old throwaway and added more of a country-rock feel to the song. Thus was created the "Mississippi" that appears on Dylan's 29th studio album.