A Dylan cover a Day: Lay down your weary tune

By Tony Attwood

Sometimes I hear a performance and it literally (and I literally mean “literally”) sends shivers through my body.  Not just down my spine, but through my whole body.

I don’t think that everyone gets this effect, but if you do, there is a chance that the version of “Lay down your weary tune” that follows could do it to you.

“Lay down your weary tune” is a song that has many opportunities to excite in its musical construction and this cover version embraces these to perfection.   The unexpected rhythmic change of the second verse, the way the melody meanders, the move from 4/4 to 2/4 and out again at unexpected moments – it is just extraordinary.   I would count this as one of the best finds in this whole meandering series of Dylan cover.

I also like the game they have played with the album cover – which I am sure you will get without me spelling it out.

After that there is no point trying to find a version of the song that rivals Ms Lundgren so I’m moving to something utterly different: Jessica Rhaye and The Ramshackle Parade.

Putting a bounce into this song sounds on the face of it a horrible idea, but the band make it work because they have no pretensions to be anything other than they are.  But at the same time they retain that extraordinary rhythmic change that is at the heart of the tune.  I also like the way the accordion is used effectively and sparingly.

And the use of two vocalists – none of this moves me as the Lundgren version does, but it is enjoyable and so worth hearing.

Of course, I’ll have to include the Byrds giving the song the real Byrds treatment.  That sound is now so familiar one only has to hear a bar to know who it is.   But the wonder if this version is that the band keep their Byrdyness and yet manage to keep much of the essence of Dylan’s song.   (The other wonder is that the spell checker on my computer doesn’t throw a fit at the word Byrdyness!)

I’ll finish with Marley’s Ghost who manage to find harmonies that others have missed along the way.  

Marley’s Ghost is an extraordinary band, and really worth discovering if you don’t know them.  Their website contains some wonderful gems including among other delights a performance of “It’s all over now” with Old Crowe Medicine Show.

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

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