By Tony Attwood
- Dylan cover of the day: Number 1. The song with numbers in the title.
- Dylan cover of the day. No 2: Ain’t Talkin
- Bob Dylan cover of the day No3: All I really want to do
- Dylan cover of the day No4: Angelina
- Dylan covers of the day No 5. Apple Suckling and Are you Ready.
- Cover version of the day No 6: As I went out one morning
- Dylan cover of the day No 7: Ballad for a Friend
I think that having bought the album upon its release I played “Ballad in Plain D” once, along with everything else on the album, and then never played that track again, lifting the stylus at that point. It seemed nasty, boring, repetitive and dull. But then I was very young at the time.
Although to be truthful, I am not sure that as I have aged I have ever gone back and listened to it again that much. But I must have done occasionally, because I find I can recite quite a few of the lyrics. “Screaming battle ground” and “victim of sound” and “all is gone all is gone admit it take flight”.
And that ending, I absolutely know by heart
The wind knocks my window the room it is wet The words to say I’m sorry I haven’t found yet I think of her often and hope whoever she’s met Will be fully aware of how precious she is My friends from the prison, they ask unto me “How good, how good does it feel to be free?” And I answer them most mysteriously, “Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”
How do I know that if I never listened to it? The mysteries of old age.
But it seems Bob Dylan didn’t like it much either, and indeed has never performed it in concert. So would anyone actually make a cover version?
Well, yes, but one would have to be pretty daring, not to say highly imaginative and accomplished to do it. But there are two such recordings (in my opinion). And even if you share with me the dislike of the song I would urge you to venture forth at least with the first of these two examples. This version, in particular, is exquisite and divine in its pain.
Paul Anquez & Isabel Sörling
Paul Anquez is a French pianist and vocalist Isabel Sörling is Swedish, and if you don’t know of them, I would urge you to explore their work if you can. I’ll add another piece by them at the end, just in case you are interested.
But first the second cover (if you see what I mean). Michael Chapman, below, I found less easy to listen to, but you may be made of sterner stuff than I.
And just in case you are still with me…
I do hope that if you are following this series you are getting something out of it. It turns out (for me, even if no one else) to be one of my better ideas in terms of the pure enjoyment of listening to these versions again.
More tomorrow (all being well).
Footnote: if you have ever had an idea for an article or a series, whether you can write it or just want to put it forward for someone else to write, please do send it in. Tony@schools.co.uk