Dylan cover a day: Just like Tom Thumb’s Blues. Just wait for the last one.

By Tony Attwood

At first I thought this version of Tom Thumb by Whiskerman was going to take us all the way through the song without any beat at all, but no, the rhythm section comes in at around 2′ 45″ and suggested to me that this was worth persevering with.   But having listened to the whole piece I wondered whether it might not have just used the music of that verse from 2′ 45″ onwards as the template.

I did listen all the way through and it is interesting, in that the final line of “do believe I’ve had enough” takes on a new meaning by the end, but I’m not sure I will happily go back to  this another time.  I’ve got the idea, and I suspect five seconds of the piece in a week or two’s time will do enough to remind me of the whole thing.

I was also unsure what extra insights Stephen Inglis was giving me until just after the first minute mark when the instrumental section came in… and this version (below) is really worth listening to just for the wonderful dexterity of the accompaniment.  Oh to be able to play like that!

And I must admit the more it progressed the more I enjoyed the recording, although it was probably in part caused by the fact that I was just waiting to see what on earth the guitarist could manage to do in the second instrumental break (and I guessed there had to be one, after such extraordinary dexterity in the first).

It’s one of those songs which will stay in the memory but I am not sure quite powerfully enough to make me want to play it again later.   And I wasn’t really too sure of the point of the coda.

Totta Näslund goes a different way with the sort of beat I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else use in accompanying this song.

What I particularly like is that the accompaniment is written to be in the background behind the voice and the beat, and the production team manage to keep it there and not compromise the artistic notion.

Somehow this version creates a new musical arrangement which utterly fits with the lyrics, as if this could be how it was originally intended by the composer.  Of course, from all that we know, that’s not true, but that feeling stays with me all the way through.

I really, really do like this, not least because as it progresses the song manages to incorporate new elements in the accompaniment without destroying the essence of the song.  Just consider the “Now all the authorities” verse – that tells us the song is growing, and that continues with the “burgandy” verse next, but this growth has been gradual, verse by verse, so it really works.

Somehow by the time we get to going back to New York City it has all happened, and the instrumental verse that follows conveys both where the signer has been and where he’s going to.

I do pity the poor pianist however; his/her performance is essential to the whole piece, but my god it must be mind-numbing to play, especially when the producer says, “Oh guys that was great but can we take it one more time all the way through.”

I love it.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *