Untold Dylan

Dylan cover of the Day 28: Dignity.

by Tony Attwood

The thing about Dignity is the rhythm of the bass – I defy anyone who listens to the music of Dylan (as opposed to just focussing on the lyrics) not to recognise the song from that bouncing bass line before any chord changes or vocalisation has been introduced.

It doesn’t really matter what the language is, if you hear the bounce you know it.  And this version by Francesco De Gregori –  “Il Principe dei cantautori” (the prince of the singer-songwriters) keeps that bass so we know what song we are listening to, even if we don’t speak a word of Italian.

I’m slightly puzzled why I like this cover version so much but I think it is the rolling sound of the Italian, and the fact that the singer does keep the whole piece so much under control, which is what I feel it needs.

But then take that away and you’ve not got Dignity at all – and so I really don’t get this next version at all.  OK I don’t speak Swedish, but now the song just sounds like nothing particular.  And the rhythm they have chosen just doesn’t seem to do justice to the feeling of the song, even though I can’t understand the lyrics.

There is something engaging about the jolly bounce of it all I guess, and I’ve tried imagining this music with the lyrics in English, but no, it doesn’t work.

I’m not normally including versions I don’t really take to, but I feel the need here to make my point.   Take out the absolute essence of the piece and you might as well write your own new song.

OK, so that’s two versions that are not in English.   What else can we find?  Well of course, there is the instrumental version…  And why not Denny Freeman who worked with Bob from 2005 to 2009 and played on Modern Times – the band of which Bob said, “This is the best band I’ve ever been in, I’ve ever had, man for man.”

Denny sadly is no longer with us – he passed away from cancer earlier this year.  Remembering you Denny.

But moving on, as one must do, I am as ever looking for a version of the song which really does re-interpret the composition while providing interesting music.  And yes I get that with the Low Anthem.

Aaron found this band as part of the Beautiful Obscurity series and I loved it the first time I heard it.  Apologies for bringing out the same song twice, but it is so gorgeous.

The series…


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