By Tony Attwood
Highway 61 is such an original concept, and we have all now heard Dylan’s version so often, that it is stuck. Most people who play it, stick pretty close to what Bob did. The beat, the melody, the accompaniment… that’s what Bob did so that’s how we’ll do it, seems to be the key.
Except there are just a few who will take a gamble and go somewhere different.
The first video from Joan Osbourne has a pretty ropey sound to the recording, but I’ve included it because they’ve taken a daring part and changed the chord structure completely, putting the song in a minor key. From here all other changes follow and give a totally different feel.
I’m not saying this a great recording, or indeed that the new approach gives a totally new perspective, as can happen sometimes, but rather it is a perfect example of tearing up the rule book and starting afresh. Which is what is needed sometimes.
It is the sound balance that is all wrong for me – and maybe that is just the problem with the club they are playing in, but full marks for seeing a way of taking this song forward that no one else has tried. I think given a studio to record in and a few hours work this could really turn into something.
And of course that trio were not the only people to realise what is possible. You don’t need the same rhythm, or a police siren… change things around and you get a totally new meaning. This Ben Sidran version gets it just right because everything flows from the relaxed vocals. Well may he smile during the performance because the sound works so perfectly. So do the variations on the text. And the decision to cut out the instrumental bars at the end of the verse.
Love the ending too.
Mountain go for a shouty approach which might not work, but the arranger and the quality of the musicians keeps me listening. The pauses between the lines work to as does the change in vocal style.
I’m not saying this is something I’ll want to listen to over and over but it has done its job in showing me another approach into the song.
When I hear a virtuoso performer do his stuff at the very start of a song, I’ll listen, just to see what else he can deliver. And what Pat Flynn delivers is a beat and a half – as well as a nifty harp commentary on each line.
In fact there is so much clever thinking going on here – as with the instrumental verse, followed by the cut back following verse… yes it all works. Great harmonica too. Perfectly in tune with the whole occasion.
Ah I rather enjoyed that little trip around. Whoever would have thought that with a bit of imagination so many different things could be done with just an old 12 bar blues.
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- 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
- 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
- Dylan cover a Day 38: From a Buick 6
- Dylan cover a Day: 39 “Gates of Eden” as never before
- Dylan cover a Day: 40 “Gotta Serve Somebody”
- Dylan Cover a Day: 41 Hard Rain’s a-gonna Fall.
- Dylan cover a day: 42 Heart of Mine
- A Dylan Cover a Day 43: High Water