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Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn)

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"Mighty Quinn"
Single by Manfred Mann
from the album Mighty Garvey! (UK)
The Mighty Quinn (US)
B-side"By Request – Edwin Garvey"
Released12 January 1968 (1968-01-12)
RecordedDecember 1967
LabelFontana Tf 897[1]
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan[1]
Producer(s)Mike Hurst[1]
Manfred Mann singles chronology
"So Long, Dad"
"Mighty Quinn"
"Theme from 'Up the Junction'"
Official video
"Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)" from TopPop on YouTube
"The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)"
Song by Bob Dylan
from the album Self Portrait
Released8 June 1970 (1970-06-08)
Recorded31 August 1969
VenueIsle of Wight Festival, Wootton Creek
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)Bob Johnston

"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 recorded in December 1967 and first released in January 1968 as "Mighty Quinn" by the British band Manfred Mann[3] 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 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.[4] Dylan has also been quoted as saying that the song was nothing more than a "simple nursery rhyme". A 2004 Chicago Tribune article[5] 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 first 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 in December 1967 by the British band Manfred Mann, who released it in early 1968 under the title "Mighty Quinn".[6] The Manfred Mann version reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart for the week of 14 February 1968, and remained there the following week.[7] It also charted on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #10, and reached #4 in Cash Box. Cash Box called it a "funky-rock track" with "a trace of calypso [to] add zest to a tremendous effort."[8]

A later incarnation of Manfred Mann, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, included a dramatically different live version of the song on their 1978 album Watch. The single edit omitted the prog middle part (previously released as a standalone instrumental under the title "As Above So Below" on 1975's Nightingales & Bombers) and included a few new guitar solos. Afterwards, the song has appeared on numerous live recordings, the middle part often including long solos and/or snippets of other songs. "As Above So Below" has been replaced with "Oh Well" and in recent years, the band often quoted "Smoke on the Water" as well before returning to the main hook. Therefore, live performances of "Mighty Quinn" often goes on for over ten minutes.

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,[6] 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,[9] a live recording from 1969's Isle of Wight Festival. The live version (titled "The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)") was also selected in 1971 for the second compilation of Dylan's career, Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II.[10]

When Columbia finally released The Basement Tapes in 1975, the song was not among the double-album's 24 songs (although an Inuk was represented 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)").[11] 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. This was replaced in the Earth Band version with Manfred playing it on an organ.

Kris Kristofferson covered the song in 2012 for Chimes of Freedom, in honor of 50 years of Amnesty International. It has also been covered by Swiss rock groups Gotthard and Krokus. Jorn Lande covered this song as a hard rock rendition on his 2019 album Heavy Rock Radio II: Executing the Classics.

Variations in title of song

The first release of the song, the #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 according to the official Bob Dylan website.[12]

Grateful Dead version

Although they never played the song with Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead started playing "The Mighty Quinn" in concert in 1985. It became a favorite encore among the Grateful Dead's fans, and remained so to the end of their career.[13]

The Hollies version

In 1969, The Hollies put their own spin on "The Mighty Quinn", adding a prominent banjo accompaniment, a horn section, and a flute part in reference to Manfred Mann's version. The song was featured as the last song on Side 2 of Hollies Sing Dylan and was performed in concert in 1969 alongside "Blowin' in the Wind".

Julie London version

In 1969, Julie London sang a version of "The Mighty Quinn" on her final album Yummy, Yummy, Yummy. The album featured multiple covers of contemporary pop and rock songs with full orchestral arrangements, including "Louie Louie", "Light My Fire", and "The Mighty Quinn".

Leon Russell version

Leon Russell included a version in a medley with "I'll Take You There", "Idol With the Golden Head" and "He Lives (I Serve a Risen Savior)" that opens his album Leon Live.

Phish version

Phish has played "Quinn the Eskimo" in concert a total of 38 times throughout their career, having first performed in 1985, two years after their formation.[14] The band performed the song at two of their festivals: Camp Oswego in 1999 and Superball IX in 2011.[15][16] Covers of "Quinn the Eskimo" appear on two Phish live releases: the 1999 live box set Hampton Comes Alive and the 2010 live DVD Alpine Valley.[17][18]

Noel Gallagher version

Noel Gallagher performed a live version for the Sky Arts show 'Out of the Now', on Thursday, 10 June 2021. The song closed a 12-song set performed at the Duke of York's Theatre in London's West End.

Chart history

In popular culture

A 1989 film, The Mighty Quinn, takes its name from the song; Dylan makes reference to the movie 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.[34]

The movie featured a recording of the song performed in a reggae style by Michael Rose, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Cedella Marley and Sharon Marley Prendergast.[35]

The Adult Swim show Joe Pera Talks With You uses Mighty Quinn as a season 2 opener in the episode "Joe Pera Talks With You About Beans".[36] This was not the version performed by Manfred Mann, because in the show an 8th grade choir is singing the track. On the Adult Swim Podcast Joe states that it wasn't as expensive to get rights to the song because the children were singing.[37]

The song is popular with supporters of the rugby union club Harlequins, also known as the Quins, and is often sung during matches and when Quins are attacking.


  1. ^ a b c 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.
  2. ^ "Bob Dylan 'Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)' Sheet Music, Notes & Chords".
  3. ^ Manfred Mann: Mighty Quinn at Discogs (list of releases)
  4. ^ Oliver Trager, Keys to the rain: the definitive Bob Dylan encyclopedia, Billboard Books, 2004, pp. 505–6.
  5. ^ '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: 28 March 2004. pg. 12
  6. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 54 – Hail, Hail, Rock 'n' Roll: Getting back to rock's funky, essential essence. [Part 3]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  7. ^ "Manfred Mann No.1 in the UK on 14 February 1968 with "Mighty Quinn" for 2 weeks". Archived from the original on 8 April 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2007.
  8. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. 10 February 1968. p. 30. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  9. ^ Bob Dylan: Self Portrait at Discogs (list of releases)
  10. ^ Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II at Discogs (list of releases)
  11. ^ Bob Dylan: Biograph at Discogs (list of releases)
  12. ^ "Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) | The Official Bob Dylan Site". Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  13. ^ Nixon, Deadbase XI, p. 194
  14. ^ "Quinn the Eskimo Every Time Played –". Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  15. ^ "Jul 18, 1999 Setlist –". Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Jul 01, 2011 Setlist –". Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Hampton Comes Alive". Phish. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  18. ^ "Alpine Valley". Phish. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  19. ^ "Manfred Mann – Mighty Quinn" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  20. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Mighty Quinn". Irish Singles Chart.
  21. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Manfred Mann" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  22. ^ "Manfred Mann – Mighty Quinn" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  23. ^ "Topp 20 Single uke 9, 1968 – VG-lista. Offisielle hitlister fra og med 1958" (in Norwegian). VG-lista.
  24. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  25. ^ "Manfred Mann – Mighty Quinn". Swiss Singles Chart.
  26. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  27. ^ "Manfred Mann Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  28. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, April 6, 1968". Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  29. ^ " – Mann, Manfred – Mighty Quinn". GfK Entertainment charts. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON Mann, Manfred"
  30. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada".
  31. ^ The 100 Best-Selling Singles of 1968
  32. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1968/Top 100 Songs of 1968".
  33. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 28, 1968". Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  34. ^ Dylan, Bob (2004). Chronicles Volume One. Simon & Schuster. p. 187. ISBN 0-7432-3076-0.
  35. ^ The Mighty Quinn (1989) - IMDb, retrieved 27 December 2020
  36. ^ "Joe Pera Talks With You". Adult Swim.
  37. ^ "Adult Swim Podcast". Adult Swim.


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Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn)
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