Night after night / The Usual… the Bob Dylan song that comes with a public health warning

By Tony Attwood

“Hearts of Fire” was a 1987 movie that was widely panned by critics and which I must admit at once I have not seen.  But I have searched around such reviews as are available and have not found anything that looks like a positive review at all.

But the movie is still of interest because Dylan performs three songs in the movie, and two of them are originals.  The songs involved are Night after Night, The Usual, and Had a Dream about you Baby.  There was an album released of the movie which contains the songs but I don’t have a copy and don’t know anyone who does, and it is seemingly out of print,  so I am working from what is available on line.

I’ve already reviewed “Had a dream” without realising the context of the film, so that song is on the site.  Dylan’s performance of The Usual (written by John Hiatt) is good fun and there is a link to it below, but “Night after night” is more problematic.  If you know of a Dylan recording of the song which is available on line please do write in.

What I did find however were two versions of the song, the first of which (below)  is a perfectly reasonable recording.  There is another version which I think might be from the movie, but it is that so horrible that I am not going to put it up until the end of the review, in order to save you too much pain.  I am, if nothing else, a considerate reviewer.

There is also a mystery non-recording on this collection

If you start playing this YouTube video (above) you should see a track listing which has “Night after Night” listed as track 18, but it simply is silence (at least when I play it), and this seems to be the one purported Dylan recording.   The following track (the last on the list) is a mess, so I can’t really explain what is going on here.

So here’s the other recording (at least the only other one that is listenable)

There’s nothing particularly stunning about the song, in my opinion.  Here are the lyrics…

Night after night, you wander the streets of my mind
Night after night, don’t know what you think you will find
No place to go, nowhere to turn
Everything around you seems to burn, burn, burn
And there’s never any mercy in sight, night after night

Night after night
Night after night

Night after night, some new plan to blow up the world
Night after night, another old man kissing some young girl
You look for salvation, you find none
Just another broken heart, another barrel of a gun
Just another stick of dynamite, night after night

Night after night
Night after night

Night after night, you drop dead in your bed
Night after night, another bottle finds a head
Night after night, I think about cutting you loose
But I just can’t do it, what would be the use?
So I just keep a-holding you tight, night after night

Night after night after night after night after night
Night after night after night after night after night

As I have intimated the highlight of the three tracks for me is “The Usual” written by John Hiatt.  Dylan’s performance is something else.

And so, sadly, I return to the other version of “Night after Night”.  I am not sure that this is from the movie (it sounds to me more like someone mucking around in their sitting room) but something Heylin says about the accompaniment makes me think it just might be.

The video says it is a Cover, but it does also mention the movie.  However I had got the impression that Bob performs it in the movie.  A definitive view from anyone who has seen the movie or has the record will solve this.

Ready?

This really is horrible.

Are you sure you want to go on?

Honest?

OK – but you can’t claim from me for any damage to your personal well-being as a result of hearing this.  I have given you fair warning and I recommend you take out private health cover first…

If you have got through this and leave the video running you will get Had a Dream About you Baby.  But you may also require medical assistance.

What else is on the site?

You’ll find an index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to the 500+ songs reviewed is now on a new page of its own.  You will find it here.

We also now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Night after night / The Usual… the Bob Dylan song that comes with a public health warning

  1. Murray Leeder says:

    He does perform it in the movie, and it’s treated as if it’s his character’s signature number. An odd choice, to say the least.

  2. Paul Minor says:

    I have a guess about what this terrible version is. On a movie set with a scene where a band is playing, the band will perform a version of the song, either on the set or in a studio prior to the filming, and then for continuity, they will mime along to a recorded version for the subsequent takes. This sounds like Dylan singing along to a track while a scene is being filmed, and although his vocal is being recorded, he is not really focused on singing it well and it is never meant to be released.

  3. TonyAttwood says:

    Thanks Paul, certainly a possibility.

  4. Aaron G says:

    I think that version is from the soundtrack…which I have, and the rest is even worse…Rupert Everett doing Tainted Love is especially evil.

    Talking of which, will you be reviewing Steel Bars the song Dylan wrote with Michael Bolton for his Time, Love & Tenderness album…or Go ‘Way Little Boy by Lone Justice..

  5. TonyAttwood says:

    Aaron, I am indebted to you. I know there are songs out there that we’ve missed, and it is so frustrating. Yes I will look into Steel Bars.

    Go way little boy as already been found, not least because I like Lone Justice. It is reviewed at https://bob-dylan.org.uk/archives/3089

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *