Dylan Cover of the Day: 17. Bob Dylan’s Dream

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.”

Monica Grabin

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).

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).

Articles are written by a variety of volunteers and you can read more about them here    If you would like to write for Untold Dylan, do email with your idea or article to Tony@schools.co.uk – but please do note, all writers are volunteers; we don’t have the funds to pay.  But our readership is rather large (many thanks to Rolling Stone for help in that regard). Details of some of our past articles are also included on the home page

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