A Dylan Cover a Day: Fourth Time Around

by Tony Attwood

A list of the articles published previously in this meandering series is given at the end of the piece.

I’ve never counted 4th Time Around as a major Dylan composition and given that Bob has only played it 37 times across the years I guess we can conclude he’s not that knocked out by it either.  But as you will see below Jochen in his review of the song did discover some more than interesting renditions.  So rather than by pass the song in my little series I thought I would try and find something even more engrossing.

I started out with high hopes with a version from Old Crow.  After all they have delivered what I think is the definitive Visions of Johanna, so surely they must know a thing or three…

But the opening tells us exactly where we are with the Dylan soundalike harmonica.

I don’t mean that the performance is not of value, but it simply doesn’t add anything new to the song, and that for me is part of the point.  The harmonies are beautiful as is the wailing of the accompaniment, but still, I really thought Old Crowe might go further.

So I kept on meandering around looking for my desired complete reinterpretation, and certainly in terms of musical re-arrangement by Ryley Walker does come up with the goods, but somehow it doesn’t drive me on to want to hear it through to the end.

You’ll probably know the beautifully gentle version from the “I’m not there” soundtrack by Yo La Tengo.  This does keep me listening, not because the music has changed but because the vocals are so engaging.  And the production team know when they are onto a good thing… they don’t play games, but instead, let it roll along.  And when we get to the dirt where everyone walked… well, yes I’m there.

Chris Whitley’s version has come up on this site before, and oh that voice is so unusual and haunting, and thank goodness the musicians and producer know how to perform behind it.

I’d never thought of doing it the way Terry Melcher does.  And having listened a few times I am still not sure that this actually works with this song.   It is that moment of “When I got up to leave” that trips people up, but by having the full ensemble of voices in the next line, yes it works.

I think it is just the mandolin that puts me off – that and the feeling that every instrumentalist is trying to get heard, which really isn’t the point.

Which brings me on to Jewels and Binoculars who featured in the review of Dark Eyes and Gates of Eden and probably several other places as well.

But now after all the meandering I have to admit it is Jochen who has led me (not for  the first time) to the most extraordinary and beautiful reworking of the song with the working through by Orien Lavie – if you don’t know “Her morning elegance” you really should watch the video.

However back to where I am supposed to be…

So  Jochen wins again and indeed wins twice because he also found The Young Relics which he called “Jumping, neurotic and contagiously energetic, including a pleasantly surprising, completely unexpected change in rhythm; halfway a full organ brutally descends down, calming the nervous guitar, smothering all the unrest, crushing every last splinter of Norwegian wood.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  Or actually to be honest, couldn’t have said it.


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. Surely Lavie’s burlesque of a burlesque would be improved had he included in his performance of “Fourth Time Round” a big fluffy red puppet with a crutch, and one sharp tooth.

  2. I wonder which nationality would do the best cover of this? Personally, I think a Norwegian would.

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