By Tony Attwood
Bonnie Raitt does a live version of this song which takes us through the emotions, and does what all the really good cover versions do – hide the fact that is a 12 bar blues in terms of musical construction, which actually is 12 bars long.
What Dylan’s composition doesn’t do however is repeat the first line, and instead has a fixed final line in terms of lyrics. And this is what keeps us listening – or at least that, along with the fact that the construction gives good musicians every opportunity to show how good they are without actually seeming to be showing off.
And what is interesting in putting together a short collection of versions of this song is just how different is each treatment, even though it is a classic blues in contstruction…
One might be tempted to think that after all these years the 12 bar blues might have had its day, but no, we can go on and on being entertained, and indeed surprised by each new approach. In this version by Vintage 18 the guitar plods its way through without boring us, not least because its part is suddenly taken over by the bass while the lead guitar multiplies the speed by something like 12-fold. An extraordinary virtuoso performance, and great arranging.
Bonnier Raith has the voice to carry off the atmospheric version of this song, and she is fulsomely aided by the accompaniment, both in the vocalised verses and in the instrumental break, which I really love. Everything and everyone working together with the same object in mind. Superb.
Well may she have that twinkle in her eye when she can deliver a performance like this. It’s stunning.
So by the time we reach Viktoria T0lstoy, the feeling surely must be, there can’t be much more you can do with what is in essence such a simply constructed song. Yes the melody is particularly fine, but is there anything else to say?
Well, actually yes…
Once again we can see the importance of the accompaniment – and here the arranger doesn’t just rethink how the instruments are going to perform, he/she also changes the chord sequence. Not a lot but enough for us to feel. And I really do feel that works, because, as I say so often we all know the songs so well, sometimes we need to be jerked out of our historic knowledge.
This version is not only my favourite of this song, but also one of my all-time favourite Dylan covers both for the way the vocalised verses progress but also the instrumental break. It’s a virtuoso performance – but not just that, it is sensitive to the rest of the performance.
The idea of multiple key changes is interesting too. Generally I think doing more than one is pushing one’s luck a bit, but a really clever idea which this time works. And a beautiful coda as the music changes from 4/4 to 6/4 and back over the “Yea yea yea yea” sections. Another great idea – give the arranger an award. Blues songs very, very rarely have codas, so there is no history of adding that extra section at the end to consider when creating one. Thus this ending comes out of almost nowhere and works a dream.
Utterly brilliant. Listen, and listen again. And marvel.
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!
- 80: Make you feel my love; a performance that made me cry.
- 81: Mama you’ve been on my mind
- 82: Man in a long black coat.
- 83: Masters of War
- 84: Meet me in the morning