A Dylan cover a day 35: Dark Eyes

By Tony Attwood

I have loved Dark Eyes from the first moment I heard it and am always sad about the fact Bob’s hardly ever played it on tour.  It is a delicate beautiful song of sadness and world weariness.  A work of musical and poetic art.

And yet the first cover I am going to present may well have you switching off within the first minute.  But if so skip to around 1 minute 30 seconds, and let it roll.  It is Jewels and Binoculars’ instrumental version, and if you like what they do just leave the video running.

If you would like to know more about Jewels and Bioculars there is an interesting review here.   But I know this is not everyone’s cup of whatnot, so moving on…

By and large I restrict myself to recordings that are on the internet but I must make an exception of The Proper Way with Carrie Myers, who have produced what is the most disturbing version of this song not only that I have heard, but that I can imagine.   You can listen to it on Spotify or Amazon, but perhaps not if you are already feeling down.  If it gets too much, do listen just to the last minute.  It takes the essence of the song, screws it up and the straightens it out again and totally expresses the whole notion of Dark Eyes in music.

Back on the internet Nathan Salsburg and Joan Shelley do it straight but with their own instrumentation experimentations.

But if a gentle harmonic expression which recognises the sadness but doesn’t take it inside you, leaving you free just to consider it from afar, then Dawn Landes and Bonny Prince Billy offered that.  It’s beautiful, and I need this to recover from listening to the earlier ventures.  The harmonies are quite different, and to be cherished.

And of course I am going to finish with Judy Collins, simply because she knows how to do it so perfectly.  And sometimes I don’t want to be challenged in my simple existence sitting here looking at my garden with the bare trees of winter and my windmill, still today as there is no wind.  This is where I sit every day and turn out my thoughts on the computer.  Today, because we are in the week approaching Christmas, no one phones and demands writing to be completed.   At such time Judy does me just fine.


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).  Some of our past articles which form part of a series are also included on the home page.

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  1. I’m not sure that “Dark Eyes “is intended to ring with jingle bells

    Or “all I see are dark eyes” is intended to jog along with ” chariots of fire”

  2. I was guilty of overlooking this song for many years, largely because I didn’t care much for Empire Burlesque and rarely made it through to the end. Lately I’ve corrected my oversight re dark Eyes and the recent Bootleg Vol 16 means I never have to worry about EB again.

    Anyway, any song with these lines deserves its day in the sun:

    They tell me revenge is sweet and from where they stand, I’m sure it is.
    But I feel nothing for their game where beauty goes unrecognized,
    All I feel is heat and flame and all I see are dark eyes.

    (And I know it isn’t a cover, but I think my favourite take on this wonderful song is Bob and Patti Smith together. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0KIQ6HGn0U)

  3. Dylan rides with Blake in a chariot of fire, carrying a bow of burning gold and arrows of desire:

    Oh time is short, and the days are sweet
    For all intended purposes
    And passion rules the arrow that flies
    A million faces at my feet
    But all I see are dark eyes
    (Bob Dylan: Dark Eyes)

    I wander trough each chartered street
    Near where the chartered Thames does flow
    And mark in every face I meet
    Marks of weakness, marks of woe
    (William Blake: London)

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