By Tony Attwood
If you really like this song, as indeed I think most Dylan fans do, then Untold Dylan must be the site for you, for we have covered it many times in many ways.
Jochen has of course considered the song in depth and presented an extraordinary version by Pernilla Andersson which for both its outstanding orchestration and the lady’s vocals deserves most fulsome mention once again
But for Jochen that was not the pinnacle, for he gave that accolade to Josh Kelly. This time the backing is utterly standard – it is the vocal in which the singer uses his sublime natural talent to deliver a performance in which we have not choice but to feel his love with him. He (and his arrangers) can even be forgiven a verse of hmmmmmmms. This is Dylan – the master wordsmith. The man don’t need no hmmms.
And there’s a very interesting set of divergent views expressed in the comments section beneath.
Meanwhile, the cover versions go on and on – there are hundreds of them (really yes, hundreds). But does anyone add anything new?
Of course, I have not listened to them all – it is a beautiful song, but there is a limit as to how many times one can listen. Sometimes, I must admit, I hardly get past the opening but fortunately, this article is rescued by the sheer number of bands that have had a go.
As for example…
The band is Stories, the singer is Hunter, and what I love is that there is no pretentiousness here, no attempt to overdo what is already a perfect song. The vocalist and the musicians know their job, they are very good at it, and they just deliver it straight.
As many musicians will confirm, this is actually a very hard song to perform, and there are some ghastly performances around where the vocalist clearly thinks she or he has got something new to offer, and has, except that something new is quite horrible. I don’t normally give mention to versions of Dylan songs that really (in my opinion – and of course it is always in my opinion) get a song utterly wrong in every dimension, but just to show it is possible here is one such…
And it is amazing how often, in listening to various recordings today I came to the view that yes, this may be a fine singer and/or set of musicians, but they either should shoot the arranger or choose another song. I will give one more example. Of course if you enjoy this, that’s fine. I just offer my views, and in my defence I would add that I try and offer an open door policy for articles on this site. So if you want to write something about Dylan which counters my view you’ll have a fairly high chance of having it published.
And before we get to the good ones, here’s one more version that doesn’t work… I just think Lucinda Williams hesitant approach to the vocals is exactly wrong for this song. The message is clear and firm, not hesitant. “There is nothing I wouldn’t do” is not a line of hesitancy.
And as I have suggested, this doesn’t mean I don’t think it is possible to play with this song. I’ll offer two more versions where at the very least I think the performers and arrangers have given us not just a pleasurable listen, but an extra insight. And not for the first time by any means I’ll contradict myself by saying yes clicks are possible. A trifle annoying perhaps, but possible.
And, wow you are still with me! Great because you will be rewarded, for at last… I found someone who in my view actually understood the song, then got inside it, then lived inside it, and then took the time to consider exactly what was going on.
What’s more it was recorded under really unusual circumstances.
The “Stilgoe in the Shed” show was performed on the internet daily during lockdown across 67 shows. In a note Joe Stillgoe said, “All these songs mean different things to different people, but for me there’s an attachment because at a time when the days seemed to meld into one another, playing every day in the shed gave me a tangible memory for each flip of the calendar, and each song its own poignant place. They, and music in general, took on new meaning during the lockdown.”
Yes I’ll go with that. I, like so many, had a very difficult lockdown, and found my way out by writing. Joe Stillgoe, with infinitely more talent, did it by performing and recording songs.
This is how this song should sound. Talk about “brings tears to my eyes”; this really does bring tears to my eyes.
The Dylan Cover a Day 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 immigrant.
- 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
- 68: Just Like a Woman
- 69: Knocking on Heaven’s Door
- 70: Lay down your weary tune
- 71: Lay Lady Lay
- 72: Dylan Cover a Day 72: Lenny Bruce
- 73: That brand new leopard skin pill box hat
- 74: Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
- 75: Dylan Cover a Day: License to kill
- 76: Like a Rolling Stone
- 77: Love is just a four letter word
- 78: Love Sick
- 79: Maggies Farm!