Play lady play: Knocking the pony with the Sisterhood, Bonny and Madeleine

By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

Introduction by Aaron…

You might have noticed that usually for this series I’ve tried to maintain a theme for each episode…a particular song, artist, genre or some other theme linking the selections together. Well, for this one, I thought I’d throw all that out the window and just give you a fairly random selection of tracks which I like (or at least found interesting) but I was unable to fit into another episode for one reason or another.

First up, a couple of Knockin On Heaven’s Door covers. Proving that the song is a boon for soundtrack compilers, both of these were used on the soundtrack for TV shows…so along with the original from Pat Garrett, the Angela Aki cover (which was actually commissioned for a Japanese movie called Heaven’s Door) we now have two more to add to that list.

Raign – from the series finale of The 100.

Tony:  This is certainly atmospheric, although I am not sure it is the sort of atmosphere I associate with the song.

And having established the bass drum effect from the start for the knocking, I felt I wanted the arrangement to move on.  Not least because if I came to play this again I would know exactly what it was all about – it was about the bass drum.

The sudden stop of the drum was unexpected and from there on bringing it in and out, I was somewhat lost.  Just how many times do you have to knock on that door in order to get in?

In all I got the feeling that the arranger had lost contact with the music and the lyrics.

Anthony & The Johnson’s from Sense8

Now this was a relief to get out of the drum knocks – but it also shows it certainly is worth hearing these versions next to each other.  But somehow, that couple of sections of the introduction is never lived up to by the rest of the performance, entrancing though it is.

The harmonies however are magnificent, as is the accompaniment.  Maybe it is the voice that simply isn’t right for me.  Somehow, because I know the song so well, I wonder if I am going to be taken anywhere else, or shown anything else.

I appreciate that when knocking on heaven’s door nothing more is going to happen, but musically it still feels like there is a need for more to be there.   Maybe if I was listening late at night in a darkened room it would help.  The end is simple and gorgeous, but that’s still not enough.

Aaron: Next up, and to help you recover your emotions a bit from the previous selections…it’s The Dead Weather with New Pony

 

Tony: OK, I love Jack White, and loved the Dead Weather.  And this record shows why.

It is a simple 12 bar but they manage to squeeze every single element out of it, plus then some more.  There is Jack doing his amazing stuff, a drummer who sounds like he has two assistants working with him, and a superbly simple idea (calling “How much?” over and over) which just works as simplicity does when handled correctly.    Over and over and over, and we are thinking, where is that next word, how much…. longer???

Best of all the band never rest – the arrangement changes throughout so even though it is a 12 bar song it isn’t anything like that.   If I ever have guests at a dinner party who just won’t go home at 3am, I’m putting this on.  Twice.

I wonder what Bob thought.

The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Wilburys

Aaron:  Now The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Wilburys (Love the name!) with their cover of Handle With Care. Seems like this is a one off collaboration between five of LAs female singer songwriters…very interesting to hear this done by woman, as I always thought this was very much a “guys” song and it’s a fairly straight cover but it works, at least for me!

Tony: Strangely, I was writing about the original just the other day as part of my series going through Bob’s writing year by year in terms of the subject matter of each song, and this was one of the songs I lingered over.  (It really is a hell of an experience working through Dylan’s composition in the order  they were written, rather than any other order.  I can recommend it).

Anyway, yes I love this, but not the instrumental breaks – the lead guitar is far too thin for my taste given the warmth and depth of the vocals.  But that doesn’t make it a poor recording, the actual singing and the accompaniment is superb and very much worth a listen.

Madeleine Peyroux – You’re Going To Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Tony: Jochen’s piece on this song is something to read – he does the insights far better than I can, which is a bit worrying given he’s not writing in his mother tongue while I am.  But leaving that aside, he chose this version as one of his selection of covers, and I recall listening to it over and over when I first got hold of the article ready for publication.

It’s memorable, and stands the test of time.  A beautiful rendition of lightness and elegance.

Bonnie Raitt – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue..

It is a real shame that I can’t get the cover to copy here as a way of playing the song, but that happens sometimes.  Here is the link – take a click and then look at the cover and listen.

Everything here is perfect – even the way the bass guitar enters the affair in the second verse.  And that’s without mentioning the lady’s voice, plus the exquisite arrangement.  It just shows you don’t to go overboard with an all encompassing array of instruments – this is simple and exquisite because the arranger and/or band knows where they are going, and they go there.  And stay there.

In short: songs don’t have to grow and explode.  By the time we got to “your lover who just walked out the door” I was moved beyond words and had to stop typing.

Even the next verse which is spoken not sung in the first two lines (which I normally hate) is a piece of perfection.

Anthony and The Johnson’s: Pressing On

Aaron: Last up I thought I’d include another Anthony and The Johnson’s cover, this time of Pressing On, I know you didn’t like the Alicia Keys Version, so see how you get on with this one!

Tony: Oh, I am so sorry, but no.  And I promise I really closed out the lyrics and listened to the sounds, but no, I can make no sense of this at all.

Dear Reader, if you would like to write a proper review of this version of this song, please send it to me at Tony@schools.co.uk and I will publish it here.  Or if it is a substantial review, I’ll publish it as a piece in its own right.

Aaron: PS on a side note, if you do like the Antony tracks might I recommend her album I Am A Bird Now, whenever someone asks me for a recommendation for an album that’s my go-to answer (besides Dylan, Beatles etc obviously!)

Play Lady Play: some earlier editions

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Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.

We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers.  Sadly no one gets paid, but if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics.  If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a Word file to Tony@schools.co.uk with a note saying that it is for publication on Untold Dylan.

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3 Responses to Play lady play: Knocking the pony with the Sisterhood, Bonny and Madeleine

  1. Larry fyffe says:

    Pressing On: “Adam given the devil reign/Because he sinned I got no choice”

    Perhaps it’s ‘Boy George’ Dylan singing about overbearing Adam getting himself and his feminine-half tossed out of Eden, and “she”hopelessly tries to get the two sides back together again in Eden by pressing on with the higher calling of the Lord, who’s transsexual:
    “…. in the image of God created He him; male and female he created He them”.
    (Genesis 1:27).

  2. Larry fyffe says:

    correction:
    *male and female created He them

  3. Larry fyffe says:

    Seems the Devil, angry at God, transforms Adam’s feminine side, now both outside the Gates of Eden, into an Eve who’s capable of bearing children.

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