By Tony Attwood
Being an atheist the notion that I have got to serve somebody doesn’t sit very well with me – except in the sense of being as kind and helpful to my fellow humans as I can. It’s a very simplistic view of the world; a sort of “do the right thing” with the “right thing” regularly being redefined as befits a constantly changing world around me. But most importantly, being defined by me, not be some deity looking down.
As a result “Gotta Serve Somebody” doesn’t sit well with my view of reality. The religious context is right out for me, but I try to have a moral compass within my daily life and obviously within that I have a sense of morality.
So is there anything in this song for me? Certainly when I first heard it, I didn’t think so. A simple 12 bar blues structure, and a clearly spoken message which has always sounded to me ludicrously anti-individualistic.
Thus I didn’t expect to find anything to my taste meandering around the cover versions, but I did like Sweet Little Band’s take. To me they convey the simple message by giving me a simple but enjoy tune over bar after bar of 1234123412341234. And they make it work.
What it really makes me think is the world without end, world without change, just going on and on and on until it fades away. It is indeed a sweet little band.
Michael Des Barres gives me a new emphasis which again I enjoyed despite myself. This time the lyrics don’t have a religious connotation at all (and of course this is just my impression, not a definitive judgement). “If you want to get on,” the song is now saying, “you will have to be subservient.”
Also a lovely deviation from the rigid chord structure by bringing in the flattened seventh as if this is a major act of defiance.
And then of course if I listen to the song in a foreign language I don’t have to deal with the religious context that I have always heard from Dylan.
Put like this, it is rather an enjoyable basic blues song. Who knows that the recitation is about – I’ve no idea if he is sticking to a strict translation of the original, but the music is removed enough from Dylan’s version for me to imagine it as a new song.
I also like the way the chorus comes in, and the way the music varies just a little. For when stripped down to its basics, there really is not that much there. And yet that little more is added as we go.
I’m not sure if I’d want to play this again – at least not for a while – but in itself it is quite good fun. And that lasts all the way through. Indeed it is remarkable how the band managed to find more and more to do.
- Dylan cover of the day: Number 1. The song with numbers in the title.
- Dylan cover of the day. No 2: Ain’t Talkin
- Bob Dylan cover of the day No3: All I really want to do
- Dylan cover of the day No4: Angelina
- Dylan covers of the day No 5. Apple Suckling and Are you Ready.
- Cover version of the day No 6: As I went out one morning
- Dylan cover of the day No 7: Ballad for a Friend
- Dylan Cover of the Day No 8: Ballad in Plain D
- Dylan Cover of the Day No 9: Ballad of a thin man
- Dylan cover No. 10: The stunning reworking of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
- Dylan cover of the day No 11: The ballad of Hollis Brown
- A Dylan cover a day No 12: Beyond here lies nothing
- Dylan cover of the day No 13: Blind Willie McTell
- Dylan Cover of the Day 14: Black Crow Blues (more fun than you might recall)
- Dylan Cover of the Day 15: An unexpected cover of “Black Diamond Bay”
- Dylan Cover of the Day 16: Blowin in the wind as never before
- Dylan Cover of the Day 17: Bob Dylan’s Dream
- Dylan Cover of the Day 18: You will not believe this… 115th Dream revisited
- Dylan cover of the day 19: Boots of Spanish leather
- Dylan cover of the day 20: Born in Time
- Dylan cover of the day 21: Buckets of Rain
- Dylan cover of the day: 22 Can you please crawl out your window
- Dylan cover of the day 23: Can’t wait
- Dylan Cover of the Day 24: Changing of the Guard
- Dylan Cover of the Day 25: Chimes of Freedom
- Dylan cover a day 34: Country Pie
- Dylan Cover of the Day 33: Crash on the Levee
- A Dylan cover a day 35: Dark Eyes
- Dylan Cover of the Day 26: Dear Landlord
- Dylan cover of the Day 27: Desolation Row as never ever before (twice)
- Dylan cover of the Day 28: Dignity.
- Dylan Cover of the Day 29: Dirge
- Dylan Cover of the Day 30: Don’t fall apart on me tonight.
- Dylan cover a Day 31: Don’t think twice
- Dylan cover a day 32: Down along the cove
- Dylan cover – recovered 33: Drifter’s Escape
- Dylan cover a day 34: Duquesne Whistle
- Dylan cover a day 35: Farewell Angelina
- Dylan cover a day 36: Foot of Pride and Forever Young
- Dylan cover a day 37: Fourth Time Around
- A Dylan cover a Day 38: From a Buick 6
- A Dylan cover a Day: 39 “Gates of Eden” as never before