A Dylan Cover a Day: I shall be released

by Tony Attwood

There is a list of previous covers in this series at the very foot of the page.

OK, it is getting more like being a Dylan Cover a Week, or maybe a Dylan Cover a Fortnight, but here’s another one…  And in writing this little series what I have discovered is that I particularly like exploring Dylan songs that I’m not especially fond of.  Not that I mean I don’t like the songs but rather that I don’t particularly choose to play them; they are not among my favourites.

“I shall be released” is one of those songs – it just doesn’t do anything much for me.  Of course, that is my failing, no one else’s, but that’s just how it is.

So I was keen to find someone who could give me a new insight into the song, but really it was hard going.

One technique often used is by having an unexpected opening, but then in comes that melody and chord sequence and we are totally within the song.  With an album cover like that above I had hoped for more inventiveness.

Bob Margolin certainly does have a go at changing the instrumentation, and his voice is very unusual (at least it seems so for me) so it does have me listening.  Love the howling wolves on the cover.

But Bert Dockx really does deserve a mention from the off, not least for that totally unexpected note in the opening bars which if I heard it in rehearsal I’d say the guitarist had slipped, but clearly he hadn’t.

So is this “I shall be released”?  Well yes it is as we find when he starts singing, and I’m giving this performance 10 out of 10, because he has done what no one else seems capable of doing – finding other heights and depths within the song which Dylan didn’t really expect when he wrote it.  (Of course I don’t know that, but it’s just the feeling I get, and I am feeling quite positive this morning as finally it has stopped raining and we have blue skies in the English Midlands.)

A beautiful beautiful voice as well as a remarkable and original way of playing the accompaniment.  This, for me is what it is all about – finding that person out there who has an exquisite talent, and who can take a song and transform it.  Keeping some elements of the original he goes in a completely different direction and delivers a different feel.

And as for the instrumental break after 4 minutes 30 seconds… oh that had me rushing back to the computer to take the recording back and play it again.  Truly remarkable.  I learn more about his song through this one performance than I have ever learned about it over the years.

Bert Dockx is not a performer I’ve come across before (my failing I’m sure) but it appears he is a Belgian composer, singer and jazz guitarist who attended the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.

Wiki tells me that in 2008 he founded Flying Horseman, a band that was nominated for two Music Industry Awards (“album of the year” and “alternative”) in 2013. Dockx himself was nominated in the ‘best musician’ category in 2013 and 2014. He also won the biennial KU Leuven Culture Prize 2015-2016.

Elsewhere, very very few people have played with the chord sequence or tried to speed up the song, but here is a version that does both…  I really quite like this, although that may be because I have just listened to so many people faithfully sticking to the lyrics, chords and timing.  And yes I know that is the point – but only up to a point.  It is not vital.


Untold Dylan was created in 2008 and is currently published 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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