The return of Bob Dylan’s Showcase: Roelie Rautenbach

By Tony Attwood and introducing Roelie Rautenbach

Back in 2020 Untold Dylan ran a series called “Showcase” which contained songs from a number of readers who had written or performed their own songs or versions of Bob’s songs.

We have a page up which links to many of the articles that were published in this series and just recently I went back and listened to the recordings that we got for that series, following the work Bob Bjarke did in creating a new set of Dylan lyrics using artificial intelligence.

That work resulted in a piece of music to fit with the lyrics, which I had a bash at writing, and it is this that has reminded me of the earlier series.   Plus the fact that Roelie Rautenbach got in touch, and after some correspondence, he kindly sent me a song of his own, called “You” and has also given me permission to share it with readers.

That song is below, but I would like to add that this makes me think maybe we could find some more recordings by readers, be they professionally recorded in a studio, or recorded by the writer on the phone.

Now in saying “on the phone” might cause some surprise, but the fact is that the recording system installed in contemporary mobile phones is remarkably good.  The playback might sound poor on the phone – but that is entirely because of the speaker that comes with mobile phones.  Play the result through a decent speaker and you can find you’ve got decent audio quality.

This gives a much broader opportunity for amateur songwriters.  As a breed we’ve generally been ignored if not laughed at as poor wannabes, while those who consider themselves as amateur painters are often, quite rightly, recognised as people who have found a productive and creative hobby which satisfies themselves and can bring pleasure to others.

Moving on around the arts, amateur dramatics put on productions that are not meant to rival the West End or Broadway, but which allow those who enjoy such work to be engaged in the art form of their choice and let others see it.  And that is widely welcomed.  So why not amateur songwriters?

So now that most of us have a recording device that allows quality recordings to be made without cost, anyone who wants to write and record her or his own song can do so.  And come to think of it, I wonder how many more early Dylan ventures we would have had copies of, if he’d been a teenager in the era of the modern mobile phone.

Thus I am now saying, as before with Showcase, as a reader of this site if you are writing original materials and can make a recording you’d like to share, please do send it as an attached file to Tony@schools.co.uk with a note saying that it is for Untold Dylan.  If you would like to say something about how the song came about, even better.  It is always good to have the lyrics written out too.

And I would extend this to cover versions of Dylan songs, although here I would add that the proviso that the cover does offer some new insight to the song through its arrangement and isn’t just you performing the song as Dylan does.  There are lots of those already on the internet so there would be nothing “untold” about offering them here.

Back to Roelie’s song: I love the lyrics of this, especially the line “You make parties come alive from the moment you arrive” which I really, really wish I’d written.  So utterly simple, so beautifully elegant, so deeply meaningful in the context of the later lines “A façade that’s not really you But just to hide a deeper view”

Now I would never ask anyone to do something that I would not do myself, so I will shortly put up one of my own songs for public exposure.   If you have the nerve to offer up your own contributions, please just send to the email address above as an attached file.

And indeed this is open to other arts as well – if for example you are a visual artist and have produced a work or two that has some relevance to Dylan in some way, and would like to share please email me, with an attached file of photo/s.

Here are the lyrics

You relax at a pavement café
On a warm Saturday
You smile sweetly and passers by
See a twinkle in your eye
The others at your table
Know how well you’re able
To charm with your way
and the words that you say
when you walk down the street
looking so elegant and neat
casually and easily dressed
an impression in which you invest
you know you look great
your looks and body indicate
and your presence can’t be missed
an enigma, difficult to resist.
You make parties come alive
from the moment you arrive
your laughter  and your smile
is  part of your  unique style.
The avant guard way you dance
Doesn’t happen perchance
but you’re alone when you go
why that is only you know

What is seen is what who knows
Is it truly you that shows
Is that elegance, laugh, that smile
A picture that just appears for a while
Is what’s inside really ever free
Is the happiness the joie de vivre
A façade that’s not really you
But just to hide a deeper view
Not showing a troubled heart
A soul that is tearing apart
You need the likes and love given
You may not get if not hidden
Your insecurities your real fear
If you’re not as you appear
Is that those, the friends you crave
Will take away all they gave

If you’re not accepted for who you are
No love, no friendship, no like you get
Will be for you won't go very far
A time will come when you are exposed
The original art piece that is you
For not being what they supposed
Is the one that real friends wish to know
To love to accept to be theirs
Be the real you and let its show

I really am grateful to Roelie Rautenbach for sharing that song with me, and for giving me permission to share it with you.

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