Dylan Cover a Day: License to kill

by Tony Attwood

This song has to be on the list of Dylan cover articles simply because of the utterly unexpected version by Elvis Costello.   Every aspect of the song beyond the lyrics has been re-examined and replaced. Yes the melody remains much the same although not always.  But really this is a remarkable remake of the whole song.

Maria Muldaur goes less far but deliver a just as effective retrospective on the song which just forces me to listen to the lyrics afresh.  I think it is the gentle accompaniment and the way the vocal harmonies work.  And it is all kept under control.

These recordings respect the original and then add to it in their own way, but what to make of the opening of Cowboy Junkies with the laughter?  I can’t imagine what the point is of keeping that on the recording.  It is a beautiful rendition, well planned, well-executed, and delightful to listen to.  And yet someone put in the laughter?  It’s beyond me.

Finally Tom Petty is always present in my memory – you may well have to adjust the volume for this live recording.  I don’t really have to say anything about this.  It just is Tom Petty.  What more is needed?

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

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