By Tony Attwood
Here the whole concept of doing a study of some of the best cover versions of Dylan’s songs (which is the point of A Dylan Cover a Day in case you hadn’t noticed) falls apart. Because there is no definitive version of the song by Dylan with which we can compare it.
The best version we have is this one (it starts with some filming that is nothing to do with the song, so if you are of an impatient disposition, you might want to pop along to around the 25 second mark.
And if you care to follow the lyrics, they are below. They still sound to me as if they are improvised as Bob sings, but if that is the case how on earth did he manage to take it all the way to
And the old gypsy told her, like I said, “Carry on,” I wish I was there to help her but I’m not there, I’m gone.
which is a masterpiece of an ending given all that was said before.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on about this utter masterpiece elsewhere on this site, and there’s not much I can add to that – except to note that this original by Dylan is far better than the cover version that turned up in the movie. Which is really the reverse of the whole point of this series – what I am normally trying to comment on are the covers that ADD something to Dylan. Nothing adds to Dylan in this case, although I’ve had a go myself out of desperation to give the world another version of this masterpiece.
We have published the lyrics before, and looking at them again I am correcting them here
Thing’s are all right and she’s all too tight In my neighbourhood she cries both day and night I know it because it was there It’s a milestone but she’s down on her luck And she’s daily salooning about to make a hard earned buck; I was there. I believe that she’d stop him if she would start to care I believe that she’d look upon the side that used to care And I’d go by the Lord anywhere she’s on my way But I don’t belong there. No, I don’t belong to her, I don’t belong to anybody She’s my Christ-forsaken-angel but she don’t hear me cry She’s a lone hearted mystic and she can’t carry on When I’m there she’s all right, but then she’s not, when I’m gone. Heaven knows that the answer she not calling no one She’s the way, forsaken beauty for she’s mine, for the one And I lost her hesitation by temptation lest it runs But she don’t honour me but I’m not there, I’m gone. Now I’ll cry tonight like I cried the night before And I’m leased on the highway but I still dream about the door It’s so long, she’s forsaken by her faith, (where’s to tell?) It don’t have consternation she’s my all, fare thee well. Now when I’ll teach that lady I was born to love her But she knows that the kingdom waits so high above her And I run but I race but it’s not too fast or still But I don’t perceive her, I’m not there, I’m gone. Well it’s all about diffusion and I cry for her veil I don’t need anybody now beside me to tell And it’s all affirmation I receive but it’s not She’s a lone-hearted beauty but she don’t like this spot and she’ gone. Yeah, she’s gone like the radio, the shining yesterday But now she’s home beside me and I’d like her here to stay She’s a lone, forsaken beauty and I don’t trust anyone And I wish I was beside her but I’m not there, I’m gone. Well, it’s too hard to stay here and I don’t want to leave It’s so bad, for so few see, but she’s a heart too hard to need It’s alone, it’s a crime the way she hauls me around But she don’t fall to hate me but tears are gone; a painted clown. Yes, I believe that it’s rightful oh, I believe it in my mind I’ve been told like I said one night before “Carry on the crying” And the old gypsy told her, like I said, “Carry on,” I wish I was there to help her but I’m not there, I’m gone.
This version I really like – I don’t know who this guy is, but full credit to him for taking this very difficult song on. He even gets the breathing right, and certainly holds my attention.
And one more. Ignore the date – that can’t be right. I don’t think the opening works, but it improves… do stay with it – after 40 seconds they get going. I wonder why the guys didn’t hear that this opening needs a much stronger solo male vocal if you are going to try it.
The instrumental verse however is perfect – brilliant thought out and executed even though the recording is a little rough.
Finally this is the version you’ll know from the soundtrack.
This is an utterly staggering song, and it deserves much more in terms of attention than these few versions. But then as ever these are just my opinions.
Last up: the interview with the producer director Todd Haynes discussing “I’m not there” and the issue of cover versions.
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
- 59: A Dylan cover a Day: If you Gotta Go, please go and do something different
- 60: If you see her say hello
- 61: Dylan cover a day: I’ll be your baby tonight