Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn)
|Single by Manfred Mann|
|from the album Mighty Garvey! (UK)
The Mighty Quinn (US)
|B-side||"By Request – Edwin Garvey"|
|Released||12 January 1968|
|Format||7" 45 RPM|
|Label||Fontana Tf 897|
|Manfred Mann singles chronology|
|"The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)"|
|Song by Bob Dylan from the album Self Portrait|
|Released||8 June 1970|
|Recorded||31 August 1969, Isle of Wight Festival|
|Self Portrait track listing|
"Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)" is a folk-rock song written by Bob Dylan and first recorded during The Basement Tapes sessions in 1967. The song was first released in January 1968 as "Mighty Quinn" by the British band Manfred Mann and became a great success. It has been recorded by a number of performers, often under the "Mighty Quinn" title.
The subject of the song is the arrival of the mighty Quinn (an Eskimo), who changes despair into joy and chaos into rest, and attracts attention from the animals. Dylan is widely believed to have derived the title character from actor Anthony Quinn's role as an Eskimo in the 1960 movie The Savage Innocents. Dylan has also been quoted as saying that the song was nothing more than a "simple nursery rhyme." A 2004 Chicago Tribune article also claimed that the song was named after Gordon Quinn, co-founder of Kartemquin Films, who had given Dylan and Howard Alk uncredited editing assistance on Eat the Document.
Manfred Mann and Dylan versions
Dylan recorded the song in 1967 during the Basement Tapes sessions, but did not release a version for another three years. Meanwhile, the song was picked up and recorded by the British band Manfred Mann, who released it under the title "Mighty Quinn". The Manfred Mann version reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart for the week of 14 February 1968 and remained there the following week. It also charted on the American Billboard chart, peaking at #10, and reached #4 in Cash Box.
A demo of 14 of the 1967 Basement Tapes recordings, including the first of two takes of "Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn", was produced in 1968, but was not intended for release. Recordings taken from the demos began appearing on bootlegs, starting with Great White Wonder, a double-album bootleg that came out in July 1969. The first official release of the song was in 1970 on Dylan's Self Portrait album, a live recording from 1969's Isle of Wight Festival. The live version was also selected in 1971 for the second compilation of Dylan's career, Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II.
When Columbia finally released The Basement Tapes in 1975, the song was not among the double-album's 24 songs (although an Eskimo was featured on the album cover, alongside Dylan, The Band, and several other people meant to represent certain characters from some of Dylan's songs). However, ten years later, in 1985, the second of the two 1967 takes appeared on the 5-LP Biograph set (this time titled "Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)"). This version was used again on The Essential Bob Dylan, a compilation released in 2000. The first of the two 1967 takes was not officially released until 2014, on The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete.
The Manfred Mann version is noted for Klaus Voormann's use of a distinctive flute part.
Variations in title of song
The first release of the song and #1 hit by Manfred Mann, which topped the UK charts in February 1968, was released as "Mighty Quinn". When Dylan released a live version of this song on his album Self Portrait, in June 1970, the song was titled "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)". This title was repeated when the same live recording was released on the album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 in November 1971. When Dylan's original "basement tapes" recording of the song, backed by The Band and recorded in West Saugerties, New York in 1967, was eventually released as part of the compilation album Biograph, in 1985, it was entitled "Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)"; this is the title accorded to the song on the official Bob Dylan website.
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||4|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||1|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||2|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||2|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||2|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||1|
|US Billboard Hot 100||10|
Subsequent notable recordings
The song has been recorded by numerous artists, notably:
- Canadian folk-rock duo Ian and Sylvia on their album Nashville in 1968.
- Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, included on their 1968 album, Young Girl.
- 1910 Fruitgum Company included it on their 1968 album 1, 2, 3, Red Light.
- The Ventures recorded a version, released on the album Flights of Fantasy (Liberty Records, 25 May 1968).
- The Beatles played it at Abbey Road Studios during the sessions that produced the Let It Be album.
- The Hollies on their 1969 album Hollies Sing Dylan. (US title: Words and Music by Bob Dylan)
- Brewer & Shipley, an American folk rock music duo released the song on a 1996 reissue of their 1970 studio album Tarkio
- Lulu released a version on her 1969 album Lulu's Album. (US title: It's Lulu)
- Julie London recorded it in 1968, released on the 1969 album Yummy, Yummy, Yummy.
- Leon Russell covered the song as part of a live medley on his 1972 release, "Leon Live".
- Classic hard rock band Quiet Riot recorded a demo version of the song in their early days, back when Randy Rhoads was still in the band. While never given an official release, the song can be heard on sites like YouTube.
- In 1996, a much heavier version was recorded by Swiss rockers Gotthard on the album G., entitled "The Mighty Quinn".
- Phish released a live version of the song in 1999 on Hampton Comes Alive, which was recorded on 20–21 November 1998, in Hampton, Virginia.
- In 2000, the Grateful Dead also released a live version on Dick's Picks, Volume 17, from a 1991 performance in Boston. In fact, The Dead first performed the song in December 1985 at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, CA. The song was then performed more than 50 times between 1987 and 1995. On all but a handful of occasions it was the closing song of a show.
- Les Fradkin included a version of the song on his 2006 album If Your Memory Serves You Well.
- Ramsey Lewis included a version of the song on his album Maiden Voyage (And More).
- In 2007, the Spanish pop group Nena Daconte recorded a version for a Codorníu Winery marketing campaign.
- In 2009 the British band Cornershop covered the song on their album Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast.
- In 2009, most of the original 1960s Manfred Mann line-up, minus Manfred Mann himself, reformed as The Manfreds and joined Klaus Voormann performing a version for his first solo collection A Sideman's Journey credited to "Voormann & Friends".
- In 2012 it was performed, in a just guitar-and-voice version, by Kris Kristofferson in the charity album Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.
In popular culture
The song is an unofficial anthem for at least two teams named "Harlequins":
- Cork Harlequins Hockey Club plays the song in national competitions when they score a goal. It was sung at their men's Irish Senior Cup win in May 2012, and their ladies' Irish League finals in 2009 and 2010.
- English premiership rugby union club Harlequins F.C. is referred to by their fans as the "Mighty Quins" and the chorus is sung as "Quins" rather than "Quinn". The song has been the anthem of the club since the 1990s and was recorded by the players on a single that was sold through the club shop.
Between 1967 and 1972, Rotherham United used to run out to Manfred Mann's "Mighty Quinn" in deference to John Quinn, who they signed from Sheffield Wednesday and played 114 matches for Rotherham.
Dylan makes reference to the song in his 2004 autobiography Chronicles Volume One: "On the way back to the house I passed the local movie theater on Prytania Street, where The Mighty Quinn was showing. Years earlier, I had written a song called 'The Mighty Quinn' which was a hit in England, and I wondered what the movie was about. Eventually, I'd sneak off and go there to see it. It was a mystery, suspense, Jamaican thriller with Denzel Washington as the Mighty Xavier Quinn a detective who solves crimes. Funny, that's just the way I imagined him when I wrote the song 'The Mighty Quinn,' Denzel Washington." Dylan's chorus is featured in the movie, with different verses, since the movie's Quinn is certainly not an Eskimo.
- Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 114. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
- Manfred Mann: Mighty Quinn at Discogs (list of releases)
- Oliver Trager, Keys to the rain: the definitive Bob Dylan encyclopedia, Billboard Books, 2004, pp.505-6.
- 'Shoe string cinema ; His latest documentary will air in prime time Monday, but after 20 years the maker of 'Hoop Dreams' still has to hustle for funding,' Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Ill.: 28 Mar 2004. pg. 12
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- Bob Dylan: Self Portrait at Discogs (list of releases)
- Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II at Discogs (list of releases)
- Bob Dylan: Biograph at Discogs (list of releases)
- http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/quinn-eskimo-mighty-quinn Bob Dylan website lyrics page
- "Austriancharts.at – Manfred Mann – Mighty Quinn" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
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- "Manfred Mann Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Manfred Mann.
- Ian and Sylvia, Nashville (Vanguard 79284) Retrieved 28 September 2011
- Gary Puckett And The Union Gap (Featuring "Young Girl") at Discogs (list of releases)
- The Ventures: Flights of Fantasy at Discogs
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