A Dylan Cover a Day: In the Summertime, Is your love and an amazing Isis

By Tony Attwood

I’m working through Dylan songs in roughly alphabetical order looking for cover versions that are available free of charge on the internet and which offer an extra insight into the songs.  And this little article contains some meandering around … but if you have a few moments please stay with me because it ends with a masterpiece of musical invention.

So, to start from the start, I would love to be able to include a cover version of “In the Garden” at this point, just to see what others might make of its very odd musical construction, but I can only find one, and I really don’t like it.  Taking a song like that and just building up the hype doesn’t work for me on a musical level, so it is set aside and I have to move on.

“In the Summer time” comes up next and here again I can only find one cover that has a video freely available and it is by Chrissie Hynde.  We’ve already picked out this cover before in Jochen’s article on the song, and it is certainly worth a repeat.

This was part of a lockdown project in which the band recorded nine Dylan songs and which we covered in part as they were released.  It was fun then, as it is now.

So moving on again, “Is your love in vain” turns out once more to be a song that artists don’t really want to record, although it is part of the Girl from the North Country show and on this video starts around 4 minutes 30 seconds.

And so I move onto Isis and at last I have re-workings that I can evolve some prose of praise around.  Julie Corbalis .

Now taking on this song as a solo with just acoustic guitar as backing is one hell of a venture – it is a long piece of course which has the most extraordinary lyrics.  But here’s the problem – most of all already know all the lyrics by heart, so stripping up the band puts an awful lot on the vocal, especially if the accompaniment is simply strumming the guitar.

But I think she does give it a good bash.  And full marks for attempting what I don’t think many others have done.

By way of contrast we have Popa Chubby, who again goes for a less than full band approach, although not as minimalist as Julie Corbalis.  I think Popa gets more out of the lyrics than Julie – I feel a much greater need to listen and focus, maybe because of the variation in his approach, maybe the three musicians are so in tune with each other through the arrangement.   After each short instrumental break I’m ready to hear how he’s going to deliver the next verse.  After each verse I’m ready to hear what the band is going to next.

And finally something different again.  I love this Vitamin String Quartet instrumental.  If you have the time do go straight from the Popa Chubby version above into the VSQ – the VSQ version is almost a coda to the Chubby performance.  Of course this is helped by the fact that both performances are in the same key, but there is something more than that.   The VSQ version really is a final commentary on everything Popa Chubby puts into the piece.  And in many ways a final commentary on the composition.

I rather enjoyed that.

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

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