Dylan Cover a Day: Mississippi. Listen, and marvel

By Tony Attwood

Until today I had never heard of Luke Vassella, but in doing my usual unco-ordinated, not to say disconnected meandering around the internet and my record collection looking for any versions of the chosen song of the day that I might have missed previously, I found him, and his recording.

And a search on the internet has not revealed too much about him other than that he is from the north coast of New South Wales, which is currently where my youngest daughter, her  husband and my youngest grandchild are on a boating holiday at this very moment.   Which in turn isn’t really relevant to the music, but I thought I’d throw it in, because, well, it’s important to me.

Anyway, I thought I knew most of the covers of this wonderful song, but this is new.  It is a perfectly simple rendition, and it is simply near perfect.  Or if you prefer, perfect.  There is no attempt to deliver anything other than the song, beautifully played and beautifully sung.  And because of that simplicity I absolutely enjoyed it, totally.  I do hope you’ll have time to listen – and if I may add, listen fully, not in the background.  It deserves nothing less.  It simply is.

Big Brass Bed, for their version, have the band playing, but what makes their version different is not so much that, but the bounce.   The arrangement is far from perfect from my point of view (a repeated triangle hit at one point doesn’t really add anything, remembering as always, that we are all listening to a song we’ve heard many times before so the details in the background tend to stand out.)

But the bass guitarist has fun, and that’s welcome; he sounds like he is really enjoying his performance, and that’s how it should be.

Now I know I have submitted for your attention the Dixie Chicks version so often, if you are a regular reader you’ll know every moment of the piece by now.   And it is not just a wonderful version of a wonderful song, but they really do add something else – or rather lots of somethings else.

The beat is different, the harmony on the chorus line is a real stand-out moment, the instrumental break with the violin between each verse…, and then having got it all going they keep changing the arrangement with subtle extras.

Here’s one simple point that strikes me.   We all know the line “Last night I knew you, tonight I don’t” – of course we do  – but just listen it here.  It just rings so true, the emotion within the line comes pouring out so we really feel it even though we’ve heard it a hundred dozen times before.

10 out of 10 for performance, but also several million out of ten for the arranger.  It is a work of sublime, overwhelming art which has, since I first heard it, added something else to my life, even in times when all else seems to be taking things away.

And don’t you dare stop playing it, before the end.   Those ladies on the violins really know a thing or three about music, about Dylan, and about this song.

The Dylan Cover a Day series



  1. Thanks Tony,
    Good article.
    You found a real gem in Luke Vassella’s cover. Best cover I have ever heard of this song. He not only sings it so well, he has conveyed the soul of it! I love it!

  2. The only things Luke does wrong is distract the listener from his fine singing voice by the overbearing regular ‘beat box’ sound …..

    It needn’t be so intrusive ….

    Knowing it’s about to come is a real turn off that spoils what otherwise could’ve been a polished gem.

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