Why does Bob Dylan so like, “Let it be me”

By Tony Attwood

If you know “Let It Be Me” the chances are you will know it as an Everly Brothers hit and as a song Dylan recorded a couple of times.  Here’s the most famous version.

And if you know Bob singing it, it was performed three times in concert and appeared twice on recordings.  Here’s the out take from Shot of Love.

 

In fact the song was originally a French piece, published in 1955 as “Je t’appartiens” sung by by Gilbert Bécaud.  If you have never heard this but know Bob’s version or the Everly’s verson, it is worth a listen.

This song was a hit in France.  It was translated into English by the American songwriter Manny Curtis.  It was a minor hit before the Everly’s version in 1960 which became a top ten hit.   Then in 1964 Betty Everett and Jerry Butler released their version which made it to the top 5.

Here are the lyrics

I bless the day I found you
I want my arms around you
And so I beg you: Let it be me.

Don’t take this heaven from one
If you must cling someone
Now and forever, let it be me.

Each time we meet, love
I find complete love
Without your sweet love,
what would life be?

So never leave me lonely
Tell me that you love me only
And say you’ll always let it be me.

Dylan performed it first on Self Portrait and then again as the b side to the Heart Of Mine single.

B side version

And another version live in 81

So what made Bob be so drawn to this song?

Certainly the lyrics are beautifully presented and it is a lovely melody that has clearly enchanted many people.  But I think above all it is the attraction of performing a love song to an unknown, unmentioned person, wistfully announcing one’s feelings.   Although the recording does not sound anything like Bob’s own work, if we think of “Love minus zero” and “She belongs to me” – these are Bob Dylan love songs that cannot approach the intensity of feeling engineered into “Let it be me”, and I think he just liked to celebrate a different kind of love song.

It is so incredibly plaintive, needy, wanting, hopeful – not emotions that I normally associate with Bob Dylan in terms of being united into one song.   The nearest we have in terms of this type of music is “Forever Young”.   Otherwise we are listening to “I’ll be your baby tonight” which is not related to the sort of feeling here.

So why does Bob like it?   Because it is a song that does something his song’s don’t do, and I would suggest perhaps something he knows he can’t do.

There is a list of other articles from this series “Why does Dylan like…” on this page.

 

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