A Dylan cover a day: Nobody Cept You: an almost lost work of utter brilliance.

By Tony Attwood

I should explain as a prelude that these articles are written as I search for and listen to the cover versions – at the start I am quite often not sure where the trail leads or whether I’ll find something interesting.  That is certainly the case here, and I almost didn’t develop this piece, because I didn’t think much of the original.  But… have I been surprised by what has turned up.

So I am presenting the recordings in the order that I found them, starting of course with Bob’s own version.

Nobody Cept You was planned as the final song for Planet Waves and then dropped from the album.  It was played eight times in concert in January 1974 and then also dropped from the rosta, so we can take it that after a bit of initial enthusiasm, Dylan didn’t really like the song anymore.

I did a rather uninspired review of the song back in 2016 when the site consisted entirely of me plodding through all the Dylan compositions I could find and writing a review of each one.

But over the years since then eight readers have kindly taken the time to comment on my review, and several showed themselves to be very fond of a song that many of us have long since forgotten.

So I was wondering if I could find some cover versions of this obscure piece, or see if there was anything interesting to say about the song that hasn’t been said.   And by pure luck I did find such a recording.  (I’d love to say that it was the result of hours of dedicated research, but in truth searching out Dylan covers in the way I do it is as much chance as it is the dedicated research).  Therefore I would beg you to stay with this particular ramble because there is something rather super at the end.

But because it is a rather obscure song and because it was a bit of a fun journey this morning, here’s the original, in case you’ve not heard it or forgotten it.

The wah-wah background guitar is, for me, utterly horrible, and detracts enormously from the song.  Indeed the whole accompaniment seems wrong for the song – and maybe that is why Bob dropped the piece.

The Waterboys seemed to feel this too as they made the accompaniment fit the lyrics in a much more acceptable way.   It’s now a nice, jolly love song.  Not Dylan at his best as a composer, but still very listenable.

The next version is a bit of a cover in that it says that the cover is by “16 Horsepower” and I think this is David Eugene Edward who wrote the lyrics for the band.  But if I have got that wrong, or you can fill in more please do write in.

What I really love about this performance is not only that the singer feels every word but he makes the performance sound as if it really is the way this song was meant to sound in the first place.

And I thought that was that, until just as I was about to wrap this up and publish this little ramble, I stumbled on this performance by chance.  It is a recording David Eugene Edward’s band 16 Horsepower playing the song.  I don’t know if this version came first or the solo version, but my goodness they are different.

Here, amazingly, all the promise and possibilities that flitted through my head while listening to the performance above came to total fruition in this song.

Suddenly the phrase “lost work of utter brilliance” springs to mind – although of course it could well be just me that has lived these years in ignorance.

But for me, this is now a song rewritten and reborn, and for me at this moment, I have just discovered a wonderful new Dylan song.  New, because although I heard it when the Rare and Unreleased bootleg came out, I thought nothing much of the song, couldn’t really see the possibilities and have hardly played it since.

Of course, that is not to say that everyone felt this way, but certainly Bob appears not to have seen any way forward for the piece.  But thank goodness 16 Horsepower did.

The Dylan Cover a Day series

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