by Tony Attwood
The truth is I am disappointed that so many of Dylan’s songs have no cover versions recorded, or if they do, just one or two which don’t really take us any further forward in our understanding of the song. Just a different voice and a slightly different accompaniment, and one wonders, really, was it worth it?
Thus were my feelings as I meandered through the alphabetical listing of Dylan’s songs and looked today at “Neighbourhood Bully” (the one song on which I’ve virtually had to ban all commentary from readers because the abuse level got so high), but no, nothing in terms of insightful re-invention.
I also had a very, very tiny hope that some daredevil might have had a go at “Never Say Goodbye” – the one song Jochen and I have utterly and totally disagreed on, and yes there is one version but it doesn’t add anything. (See also here). (Maybe my next series could be “The 10 Dylan Songs I love that Everyone Else Hates”)
Thus sadly I must pass that extraordinary song by and head on to New Morning, And also sadly I don’t seem to be able to find anything extraordinarily insightful. But maybe you’ll find additional merit in these. Or maybe I somehow missed the one great work of genius and insight in relation to this song. If so, do say.
Darren Criss and Chuck Criss of Freelance Whales certainly showed inventiveness in their entire handling of the song, both in the vocals (particularly the harmonies) and the instrumental break and yes it is really worth hearing – a good choice for the album. Gentle, restrained, insightful – it’s all these, but the one thing that it can’t do is cover for the fact that the original song is quite light.
With the next piece you might be put off by the opening seconds, but do stay with it – personally, I think that the opening is a mistake, but the rest is a very decent reinterpretation. The incessant piano chords are a bit of a pain, unless you happen not to notice them, and given the inventiveness of the vocal harmonies, I would have thought someone at the recording could have come up with something else. Lovely treatment for the middle 8 though – beautifully restrained.
The Grease Band take us down a totally different route – and it is a good reminder that the song is one that is open to re-interpretation. It’s just that no one has really found a really exciting and wonderful way of doing it. The band try giving it quite a bounce, and in a sense that works, but not quite enough to make me want to hear it again. Maybe the bass is just a bit too prominent and repetitive.
The middle 8 is fun, but the problem is that in this version it seems to have very little to do with the rest of the song.
And then onto a reggae version, and having said that, that is what it is: a reggae version of “New Morning.” Not really too much else to say.
I think that to be successful a cover of New Morning needs to be restrained and the opening of the Michael Henry Martin is just that at the start, but then the vocalist comes in determined to dominate (and well, yes, he’s the star, so of course he would) but really that takes away the delight of the simple song.
So, no, not for me. I can’t find a cover of this song that for me does it justice. But as ever I guess that is just me. Still, you can’t win them all.
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
- 85: Million Miles. Listen, and marvel.
- 86: Mississippi. Listen, and marvel (again)
- 87: Most likely you go your way
- 88: Most of the time and a rhythmic thing
- 89: Motorpsycho Nitemare
- 90: Mozambique
- 91: Mr Tambourine Man
- 92: My back pages, with a real treat at the end