Francesco Garolfi – a rare talent at re-interpreting Dylan – and others.

By Tony Attwood

Recently in the “A Dylan Cover a Day” series I mentioned the work of Francesco Garolfi.  To my delight and surprise, Francesco Garolfi saw the piece and got in touch with me – which says a lot about the man (taking the trouble to write back when a reviewer has written about his music).  And it also perhaps says something about (if I may add a boast) the way Untold Dylan has reached readers around the world.

So the first thing to say is if you want to know more about this artist there is a biography in English here.

What I would like to do here is look again at “Buckets of Rain” and also at “Tears of Rage”, and hope this will lead you on to listen to Francesco’s album “Wild” – which is available on the internet.

I’ve also found some of his songs on Spotify – although I always have to be cautious here – I’m a Spotify subscriber and it may well be that these recordings are not available on the non-subscriber version of Spotify.  I can never work that out.

What I would stress however before we get going, is that none of this comes because Francesco is trying to persuade me to say nice things about his songs, and no money is changing hands!   Here we have a most unpretentious musician, writing extraordinarily original arrangements of songs, and simply offering them to whosoever wants to listen.

I’m hoping you’ll enjoy these two Dylan songs, even if you choose not to go any further.

Buckets of Rain was the song that I reviewed for the original version – and it is one of those Dylan songs that is covered and covered over and over again.  I think I found around 50 versions of the song before I couldn’t take any more.

 

Yet this version stood out because of its beauty and simplicity.  It is a vision that is perfectly executed.  I just have the feeling that the artist knows exactly where he is going and why he is going there.  And he delivers perfectly.

The notion in the song

If you want me
Honey baby, I'll be here

is one of the saddest approaches of the love / lost love genre.  She is free as a bird, she goes where she wants, and all he can do is say, “if you ever want me, I’ll still be here”.

Dylan’s original music suits the message perfectly but somehow Francesco Garolfi gives us that little bit more.  There’s no crude over-emphasis; he retains the gentility, and as I listen I travel back to younger days and remember moments like that.  Tears come to my eyes.

Tears of Rage

A second point about this artist’s work is that I am in no way thinking, “Oh this is like…”.  Maybe someone else has approached Tears of Rage in this way but I don’t think so.

The harmonies, which are a consistent feature of his work, are so achingly beautiful I find it hard to say much more.  Perhaps just for once I really should shut up and let the music do the talking (as it were).

So I’ll leave you to contemplate those two songs, but if you are still with me on this I would also like to direct you to “A handful of songs” – the EP which is certainly available on Spotify.

Just go on Spotify and type in the artist’s name and you should find links to more songs.  Look out for “John the Revelator” – which is dead simple in the construction but actually has a depth and insight to it which I find hard to explain.   We have a chorus, a harmonica and a banjo or ukelele (sorry I am not sure which).  It is extraordinary what this musician can do!

I do hope you enjoy his work as much as I have been doing these last few days.  And also appreciate a musician who is able to reach out to some guy sitting in middle England tapping away on his computer and say “Thanks for the review”.  That really is something.

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