A Dylan Cover a Day: If not for you, and a rant against prosody

By Tony Attwood

A nice bouncy version from Barry Hay to begin which has a surprise sudden ending.  I thought they’d keep it going longer!

And as the second example, something completely different – which I think shows the beauty of this song.  It is very simple, and as such lends itself to be interpreted in many different way.

But I am really not at all sure about the sudden introduction of the timpani in the middle 8; it seems a bit too obvious in terms of “the sky would fall”, although the rest is beautifully re-imagined.  After all the careful delicacy it sounds like one of those moments when the producer insists on having his say.

Indeed, why is it that otherwise fully competent arrangers and producers do suddenly feel the need for prosody – where the sound has to reflect the meaning of the words.  It invariably sounds false to me, and indeed makes me think that either the arranger or producer had incredibly limited musical knowledge, or one or the other of them is treating the audience with utter contempt.   We are all able to understand the meaning of the song without having a musical illustration to help us along.  I do wish they’d stop doing it.  Dylan never feels the need for it – so why do the re-interpreters?

What is needed is imagination.  And just to show that even with very simple songs it is possible to go in all sorts of directions, this is Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience.

I’ll show my ignorance here by confessing I didn’t know what Zydeco meant – so I looked it up on Wiki.  You probably knew this already but if not, here is their take…

Zydeco  is a music genre that evolved in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers which blends blues, rhythm and blues, and music indigenous to the Louisiana Creoles and the Native American people of Louisiana.”  There is plenty more here.

And finally this is the one that gave me the most enjoyment from a little bit of searching around for versions I’d not heard before.  It is just so unpretentious, and even the sudden introduction of harmonies in the vocal works elegently.

Indeed now I come to think of it, elegance is the key to this song.

Here’s a list of most of the articles from this series…


  1. Acadians expelled from New Brunswick/Nova Scotia ended up in Louisiana, bringing their dance fiddling music with them; the zydeco accordian introduced much later on .
    Listen to the “Cajun” influence in the Band’s “Evangeline”

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