By Tony Attwood
This is one of those moments where there is a cover version I have raved over so much on this site that I suspect most of the series’ dozen or so readers will know exactly where I am going. Or maybe I am being pompous imagining I have a dozen readers and any of them are going to remember something I wrote over a year ago. Possibly yes I am, so I’ll go with it anyway.
The problem is that many of the cover artists either go after the Sinead O’Connor version and don’t quite get there, or the Dylan version and don’t quite get it.
Is there another way of doing the song? There must be, but I seem to have probably missed it.
Ava Wyne gives us an unexpected bounce and some fun orchestration which sounds a trifle forced, but nevertheless makes for good entertainment.
Cat Power don’t want none of that delicacy nonsense, and by taking away the chord sequence that becomes a lot easier, so it is a refreshing listen. The use of minor chords totally changes the impact and the arrangement is kept suitably restrained. Yes there is another way of doing the song, and this is it.
And there are surprises all the way through as those chord and melodic changes constantly take us not quite where we expect. Not sure about the fade out end, but it is a good piece.
Judy Collins takes it straight of course, but she has such a wonderful magical voice that the vocal harmonies work to perfection. Now this one I could listen to; not as much as that which is to come in a moment, but yes, I could listen again.
There are two points: what do you do with the instrumental break and what do you do with the “oh when the dawn is breaking section”? Solve those two conundrums and you have a superb piece of music.
Judy Collins has a magical way of holding the beat back just a tiny fraction – maybe one-sixteenth of beat. It is extraordinary. Although maybe I am just hearing it that way. But her overdub of the harmonies with her own voice while the lead guitar soars away is sensational and yes, listening again I am sure she is that fraction of a beat behind, and it adds so much.
(Incidentally, as I type this a spam message has appeared telling me my G mail settings are out of date. As if I minded while being the closest I will ever get to heaven).
Anyway, there is no point in going on because we do have perfection, and because we have all that the lady who gave us perfection did to fight back against the horrors and outrages of the Magdalen Laundries. And yes I am once more giving sway to my own strongly held opinions on corruption here. But then, I would argue I don’t do it very often, and if you’ve read any of my stuff here already, and know the history of this song, you must have expected it.
As an atheist, I am asking for this to be played at my funeral dedicated to my friends who can make it there, and of course to my daughters and my grandchildren.