A Dylan Cover a Day 29: Dirge

By Tony Attwood

This, I suspect, is going to be one of the articles in this series that is skipped by quite a few readers who so kindly generally follow me on this daily meander through Dylan’s catalogue in alphabetical order via the covers.  Cover version of “Dirge”?  Let that one go.

Dylan himself has never performed “Dirge” in concert and perhaps for that reason the number of covers is tiny and do take a little bit of finding.

But I certainly don’t want to repeat my whole argument about the importance of “Dirge” and “Wedding Song” – my thoughts are still online as part of All Directions.  But if I may quote myself briefly, I said, “those final songs took us to a new high point from which Dylan was completely ready and free to launch himself forward with not only works of genius, but works of genius the fans and the self-appointed critics would like.”

Thus these are the two compositions that preceded “Blood on the Tracks” and my suggestion has been that next time you play that album you might care to precede it with these two extraordinary songs and hear them as “Blood on the Tracks: the Prelude”.

Anyway, because of their low ranking among the self-anointed experts, we don’t hear too much of them in the world of covers, but there are two that I really enjoy and a third which is, well…. interesting.

And indeed when we published a list of covers suggested by readers Dirge came up twice – and those two suggested covers make up the two main entries today.

Michael Moravek

This artist (of whom I know nothing) gives me a feeling that he has contemplated every word he is singing and worked with the musicians around him to produce this beautiful arrangement of such a difficult song.  Even the repeated bars at the end are carefully crafted – and one can’t always say that.

Please do stay with this version rather than moving on after a few seconds… it really is worth it.  Sophie Hunger is another artist I am not familiar with – very much my loss – and Wiki tells me she is a Swiss singer-songwriter, film composer, multi-instrumentalist (guitar, blues harp, piano) and bandleader, currently living in Berlin.

And a remarkable interpreter of Dylan it seems.  I really do think this is a fantastic interpretation of a totally remarkable and ludicrously ignored Dylan masterwork.

Erik Truffaz.

And finally…

Diva de Lai

This is not a recording I’m going to play over and over again – it is the previous two covers that have been and will be heard in the Attwood household.  But this version does show just how much there is in this often ignored song.

Dirge really is an amazing composition.  It does deserve more recognition.  Just because Bob doesn’t want to perform it, don’t mean it ain’t great.

The series…

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