by Tony Attwood
OK this is Untold Dylan, which means there are going to be mistakes. I don’t do them on purpose; they creep in when I am not looking and change what I have written, even infecting the perfect articles of my pals who have never made an error in their lives.
So, to be clear, this is number seventeen in this series no matter what else I’ve said to the contrary elsewhere.
What I didn’t realise when I started this idea of doing a Dylan Cover of the Day every afternoon, as an extra contribution to the site, was how personal this was going to get – although looking back, I should have realised. However, you don’t have to read the text. It’s the music that matters.
Betty and the Baby Boomers’ version comes from 2016 – it is not a radically different version as some are in this series, but it is just so stunningly beautiful and elegant, I really felt the need to lead with this. I know every word by heart of course, and can play the piece on piano or guitar with my eyes closed (which many who have heard me perform claim makes a considerable improvement to the performance) but still despite the familiarity, the desperate sadness of the concept behind the song comes through. “I wish I wish…” oh yes, how I wish.
Brian Ferry is going to put emotion into every word – hell, he can even put emotion into semicolons. But the intro of a harmonica at the start along with the clippity clop sounds are both alarming – and yet then Brian comes in, and on my, I’m off again.
I’m forever reminded of Brian’s comment when asked what he would say to Dylan if the two ever met. His response was that he would probably say, “I hope you don’t mind.”
There is a note on Monica’s webpage which says she is “teaching the story of America through its songs.” What a stunningly beautiful and important thing to do. Wow, I wish I’d thought of that in the UK.
What interests me is how this fairly simple song, which is of course in essence all that this is, still resonates so strongly. As you’ll know, I’m sure, it is a 19th folk ballad normally known as “Lord Franklin.”
I suppose for me it was perhaps the first song I heard as a teenager which enabled me to think about getting older. And now here I am, “older”, and thinking back on the life that I have had.
So in this way the renditions are very personal – but they still need the beauty of the performance to create these feelings. The guitar playing is elegantly simple, like clothes that are nothing special but can still be utterly perfect on the right person. Guitar and voice together are, indeed, perfection.
Riddarna kring runda bordet: Björn Afzelius
And finally something different – both by the fact that it uses a light rock beat, and is not in English. Björn Svante Afzelius died tragically young in 1999, and I heard of him through his being an advocate of socialism, via my friends in Sweden at the time. According to wiki he wrote about 150 songs and sold over two-and-a-half million albums.
Well now, I’ve written more than 150 songs, and not sold a single album. I think he wins.
Previously on Dylan Cover of the Day. (Caution, this list might contain errors).
- 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
- Dylan Cover of the Day No 8: Ballad in Plain D
- Dylan Cover of the Day No 9: Ballad of a thin man
- Dylan cover No. 10: The stunning reworking of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
- Dylan cover of the day No 11: The ballad of Hollis Brown
- A Dylan cover a day No 12: Beyond here lies nothing
- Dylan cover of the day No 13: Blind Willie McTell
- Dylan Cover of the Day 14: Black Crow Blues (more fun than you might recall)
- Dylan Cover of the Day 15: An unexpected cover of “Black Diamond Bay”
- Dylan Cover of the Day 16: Blowin in the wind as never before
Untold Dylan was created in 2008 and is published daily – currently twice a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. Details of some of our series are given at the top of the page and in the Recent Posts list, which appears both on the right side of the page and at the very foot of the page (helpful if you are reading on a phone).
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