By Tony Attwood
There are some Dylan songs that I really think ought to be covered by other artists, but which no one seems to want to try. “If you ever go to Houston” is one such. Listening to it today, I can just hear what I would want to try if I were a) a lot younger and b) still playing in a band. Indeed I think after finishing this little piece I might pop downstairs and see what I can do on the piano.
So I moved on to “If you gotta go” but before I get to that, I would add that while looking just to see if anyone had had a bash at Houston, I did discover this from Don Gibson recorded in 1976. The song has nothing to do with Bob’s composition, but I wonder if Bob overtly or subliminally took his title from there.
Mind you, “Midnight special” also has the line “If you ever go to Houston” so maybe that was the source. Bob was certainly there having been invited to play harmonica on the original recording of that song with Harry Belafonte. Here’s one of the run-through takes with Bob…
All of which finally brings me on to “If you gotta go go now”.
The first-ever cover version was by The Liverpool Five.
Despite their silly name (well, I think it is silly, but then I’m a Londoner, so I would do) they were one of those warm-up bands that seemed to turn up all over the place playing at concerts of The Lovin’ Spoonful, Stevie Wonder, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers and The Byrds. And probably a lot more.
As for the music – for me, it’s too much of a plod which takes all the fun out of the song.
The next one is also not to my taste but my goodness it really made me smile…
Oh that plinky guitar in between verses!
One of the funny things about this song is that it seems to inspire people to do all sorts of funny things with it – if you see what I mean. Just listen…
Somewhat better, because the singer understands what the words are about, is the Cowboy Junkies version. The only problem is the band are seemingly fighting with each other to be part of the overall sound. Didn’t they have producers in those days?
But there is always someone with some musical intelligence who can apply him or herself to making more out of the composition. And finally, I found one (and you should hear some of the covers that didn’t make it to this edition, some of them really are pretty lacking in understanding of what music is actually about.)
And yes I would say this version has been worth waiting for.
Tony Skeggs is a Cavern Club performer and there’s a little bit about him through that link.
But I must include the Fairport Convention version, just because it is so silly and funny and just whacky. And I always love whacky.
Here’s a list of most of the articles from this series…
- The song with numbers in the title.
- Ain’t Talkin
- All I really want to do
- Apple Suckling and Are you Ready.
- As I went out one morning
- Ballad for a Friend
- Ballad in Plain D
- Ballad of a thin man
- Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
- The ballad of Hollis Brown
- Beyond here lies nothing
- Blind Willie McTell
- Black Crow Blues (more fun than you might recall)
- An unexpected cover of “Black Diamond Bay”
- Blowin in the wind as never before
- Bob Dylan’s Dream
- You will not believe this… 115th Dream revisited
- Boots of Spanish leather
- Born in Time
- Buckets of Rain
- Can you please crawl out your window
- Can’t wait
- Changing of the Guard
- Chimes of Freedom
- Country Pie
- Crash on the Levee
- Dark Eyes
- Dear Landlord
- Desolation Row as never ever before (twice)
- Don’t fall apart on me tonight.
- Don’t think twice
- Down along the cove
- Drifter’s Escape
- Duquesne Whistle
- Farewell Angelina
- Foot of Pride and Forever Young
- Fourth Time Around
- From a Buick 6
- Gates of Eden
- Gotta Serve Somebody
- Hard Rain’s a-gonna Fall.
- 42 Heart of Mine
- 43: High Water
- 44: Highway 61.5
- 45: Hurricane
- 46: I am a lonesome hobo
- 47: I believe in you
- 48: I contain multitudes
- 49: I don’t believe you.
- 50: I love you too much
- 51: I pity the poor immigrent.
- 52: I shall be released
- 53: I threw it all away
- 54: I want you
- 55: I was young when I left home
- 56: I’ll remember you
- 57: Idiot Wind and More idiot wind
- 58: If not for you, and a rant against prosody