Other people’s songs: You’re no good

By Aaron Galbraith (in the USA) and Tony Attwood (in the UK).

Aaron: Previous articles in the series [listed, as always, at the foot of this piece] include performances of the song from before Bob’s own recording. This one is different for the simple reason that Bob was the first to record the song.

Dylan had seen Jesse Fuller perform at the Exodus coffee club in Denver in 1959, and learned “You’re No Good” from him personally. It is also possible that Dylan learned the song from hearing Ramblin’ Jack Elliot perform it. Dylan’s version is faster than Fuller’s and has a title change and some lyrical changes from the original.

Tony: This is why this website is not simply full of my own ramblings about Dylan; I somehow always presumed that this was an old blues song that Bob decided to speed up.  All these years and I never realised!  (Or perhaps I did know, but in my latter years have forgotten).

Aaron: Fuller’s own album release of the song was over a year after Dylan’s…

Tony: What is interesting to me is that Jesse Fuller’s version really speeds up as it goes along, and ends up quite a bit faster than it starts out.   It is probably not intentional – it just happens, and I certainly recall in my short career in playing in bands we used to have that trouble and really focus on keeping the beat the same.   These days as I write songs just for fun and to share with a few friends, after the recording I always have to play the start followed immediately by the end just to check.

Interesting also that Jesse Fuller does reign himself in slightly at the end – I wonder if the whole tempo change was deliberate, and Bob just decided to take it at full lick from the start.

Aaron: Donovan recorded the song in 1964 and eventually released it in 2004 under the original title and the original lyrics, “Crazy ‘Bout a Woman”

Tony: Ah, Donovan, the English Dylan.   If you’ve not heard of him, don’t worry about it but if you have, you might like to look at him today as seen on his official website.  Mellow Yellow and Sunshine Superman are the two hits I recall from the ancient times.

This recording is a perfectly decent version of the song, showing that the young Donovan really did have talent.  It was just swamped by the hype, which I don’t think was his fault at all.

Aaron: The Graveltones recorded the song twice in two very different versions.

First, from the Don’t Wait Down album in 2013

Tony: Yes…. it took me a few moments to think that there could be any relationship between this performance and the composer’s original, but of course the lyrics are the same.  The music however has been completely re-written.

It’s not my style of music at all, and I really can’t appreciate it, either in terms of this song or pretty much anything in this style.  Obviously many people do, so it is me that is out of line, but well, I’m not a headbanger.

Aaron: From the Cardinal Sessions in 2014

Tony: Now this is interesting, that the these two guys could and indeed would produce both versions.    This one I can relate to; I love the way the percussionist gets the sounds and fits them in with the acoustic guitar.   And the setting is fun too, especially with the shot of the audience of two right at the end.  I love it.  For me, that’s the best of the collection today.  Thanks as ever Aaron; as ever you extend my musical knowledge.

Previously in this series…

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