A Dylan Cover a Day No. 60: If you see her say hello.

By Tony Attwood

Unless this is the first “Cover A Day” you’ve read, you may have got the hang of what I am looking for in this series: people who are able to find something extra or at least different in the Dylan song they are covering.  Something which takes Dylan’s original thoughts and finds a new place to send them.  Something perhaps which through the musical arrangements gives a new edge – maybe even a new meaning – to the music.

This doesn’t mean I think all these covers are better than the originals, but rather that they give me a chance to return to songs that I know by heart and can play in my head, if the mood so takes me.

And I spell that out here because that is exactly what this version of “If you see her” does

Peter Viskinde was a major force in Danish rock music who died last year; I’m really pleased to have a chance to feature one of his performances.  To me, he really gets hold of the song and find levels in it which Dylan chose not to exploit in his recording.   Here we have the anger expressed which so often comes years after a relationship has broken down.

And in the arrangement he gets that heart-piercing gut-wrenching final section perfectly:

Sundown, yellow moon
I replay the past
I know every scene by heart
They all went by so fast

If she's passin' back this way
I'm not that hard to find
Tell her she can look me up
If she's got the time

“If she’s got the time” is a real killer of a final line for this song which has earlier had the lines

And though our separation
It pierced me to the heart
She still lives inside of me
We've never been apart

The singer is so screwed by the end of the relationship that “if she’s got the time” is just one of those amazing Dylan lines that looks so simple but carries with it depths of emotion that reach down to the core of the earth itself.

Sfuzzi (who once produced an album of Transylvanian Surf Music – a notion that gets my vote for the most unlikely genre of all time) go a totally different way, even changing the chord sequence to take out the blues feeling Dylan introduces with the flattened 7th.  So “go from town to town” is just another line rather than having that blues edge that Dylan gives us.

But it is so pop all the way through it catches me out – rather than the music adding to the feelings of despair it contradicts those feelings in a strange, but effective way.  If you can, do play this all the way through, because the ending will come as a bit of a surprise too.

Jeff Buckley produced one of the oddest re-workings of a Dylan song ever with “If you see her”.  It’s not just that he really does take the song to another planet, it is that this recording gives us a minute and a half of attempts to tune his guitar.   If you are short of time head for about 3 minutes 30 seconds by which time he’s got the hang of where he is going.   By 6 minutes 21 seconds, with “Sundown, yellow moon” I think we’ve got what he was really after.

Moving on, if you are a regular reader of these ramblings you will not be surprised to find Mary Lee’s Corvette turning up.  After all, their third album was indeed, Blood on the Tracks.

This is a version where “still gives me a chill” really does send my nerves a-tingling.  I am not sure the contrasts in the low and high range of Mary Lee Kortes’ voice in the recording is the best use of her talent but it’s an interesting idea.

My final offering is one that changes the sex of who is being sung about – which of course we are prepared for by the fact that it’s from the Stonewall Celebration Concert.   It’s great to hear the song performed by a man with a sublime singing voice, who can use its range of pitch and phraseology to perfection within what is quite a limited song musically.

It is really worth a listen.

If you have been, thanks for reading.

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

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