by Tony Attwood
My eternal complaint about Dylan covers is that so many artists just perform the song of their choice as it is written or recorded, ignoring the fact that Bob himself clearly thinks that just because a song is recorded one way, that doesn’t mean that is the fixed or “proper” version.
After all, if he can play a song of his half a dozen different ways, then surely other performers ought to be able to find at least a few more ways of playing.
Take Los Cenzontles – they not only play with the instrumentation they turn the whole rhythm of the song inside out with so many off beats it’s hard to keep up yet all the time staying in the 12/8 time signature. It must have been enormous fun to work this out and rehearse it. But it must also have taken so long…
Travelling a completely different route is Old Crow – the band who on tour performed what is for me the ultimate version of Visions of Johanna.
They don’t play with the timing, but here I find new life in a song that until I heard this version was never one that I really felt at home with. What do they do?
They give it a sort of gentleness that I don’t find in most other versions… somehow it drives through what feels like its natural style and speed. And I do utterly love the instrumentation.
Enzo Pietropaoli however goes somewhere very, very different… and this works wonderfully well for me for the simple reason that I know the music so well.
But if anyone had said before I heard this, “How about a version of ‘Just like a woman’ played on a solo double bass?” I really would have laughed. Please do listen all the way through – it is extraordinary, delicate and beautiful.
Less idiosyncratic but as interesting and beautiful is the Guitar Dreamers version, because once again they are re-imagining the work, not just saying “Hey let’s do ‘Woman’.” For the right moment on the right day, this is there just to be put on, to have one’s eyes closed, and to say, “Yes I can stop this crazy helter-skelter of a day, and reflect for a while on where I am and why I am and what the hell I am doing here.”
And, at least for me, that is never a bad thing to do.
Last one, and I nearly didn’t get to hear this one because of the word “grass” – it just shows how prejudice can take over even a seasoned listener. (I thought it might be bluegrass, which I really find rather hard going.)
But this is beautiful and relaxing. I could do with a collection of songs played in this way. And indeed if you have a Spotify account, do type in the band’s name and listen to “Tangled up in blue”. It’s not a case of one version being better than another, it’s just that on a day when so far I find I haven’t smiled that much, I’m now just grinning all over my face. (Oh and do listen to that track all the way through – no dropping out after a while).
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
- 62: I’m not there.
- 63: In the Summertime, Is your love and an amazing Isis
- 64: It ain’t me babe
- 65: It takes a lot to laugh
- 66: It’s all over now Baby Blue
- 67: It’s all right ma