By Tony Attwood
This is one of those Dylan songs that has always seemed to me to be a bit of a rush and a bit of a mess – and besides is so very closely related to “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (of which the less said the better) that it is really would not be remembered at all unless Dylan had written it and put it on the album.
And yet the origins wouldn’t matter if there was something new, or some particular insight in the song, but I’ve hardly ever found that to be the case. There’s a review of the song by me on the site, but I’m not too sure that takes us very far – so if you want to learn more, Jochen has far more insight than me. Interestingly though, with both came up with Toni Price’s version as one worth considering.
Old Crowe Medicine Show, as you will know if you are a regular reader, is a band I really admire, not least because they have given us a version of “Visions of Johanna” which is how I really think it should be performed. And they have great fun with this piece – which is once again, really how it ought to be treated in my view. And yes I know it was originally called “Black Dog Blues” with the suggestion that it is about depression, but I’ve never been able to find that concept in the music, and besides, Dylan chose to change the title, which either means the title is irrelevant, or it wasn’t about depression in the first place.
If you have time please do listen to the whole track – it is just fun, with brilliant musicians who have taken the idea and simply said, “let’s really go as fast as we can and see what happens.” And what happens is just something else.
There is another version by the same band which is even crazier, via this link…
I just love the fun of that version, not because of the difficulty of playing it at that speed (and yes I have tried and failed). I can sing it at hyper speed but it’s the music that makes it not the lyrics.
After that Eric-Scott Bloom seems almost sedate – and this is where I am on dodgy ground, for I may be getting people confused here. I think that this is the same person who is known as Modartist (Facebook.com/modartist) but this could be one of my occasional confusions. If you know more please say.
The music is fun, not pretentious in any way.
Top Jimmy and the rhythm pigs, face the same sort of problems that anyone has in trying to cover this song – there is just so much in there, and most of it is seemingly unrelated, that it is difficult to know what to do without a total musical rewrite. But the band really do manage to keep my interest and the accompaniment doesn’t overwhelm, which can always be the temptation with this sort of music.
There’s a great instrumental break with the saxophonist really knowing where’s he’s going which certainly makes this version worth hearing.
There is another problem however, in that Dylan’s instrumentation is so distinctive that everyone feels the song cannot exist without retaining it, so one version of the song does tend to merge into another. (Which is incidentally yet another reason why Old Crowe stands out.)
Toni Price is the only female vocalist who seems to have taken this on and released a recording, and there are odd moments that took me by surprise, but not really enough to make me want to go back and listen again.
All things considered, these are all worth hearing, if you have a mind to listen, but no one can beat the Old Crowe. And not for the first time.
The Dylan Cover a Day series
I’ve cleaned up the list of past articles in this series and it seems like we’ve reached 100 here, as well as with Mike’s “Never Ending Tour” series. Although no one has checked my counting so I might be wrong.
- 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.
- Heart of Mine
- High Water
- Highway 61
- I am a lonesome hobo
- I believe in you
- I contain multitudes
- I don’t believe you.
- I love you too much
- I pity the poor immigrant.
- I shall be released
- I threw it all away
- I want you
- I was young when I left home
- I’ll remember you
- Idiot Wind and More idiot wind
- If not for you, and a rant against prosody
- If you Gotta Go, please go and do something different
- If you see her say hello
- Dylan cover a day: I’ll be your baby tonight
- I’m not there.
- In the Summertime, Is your love and an amazing Isis
- It ain’t me babe
- It takes a lot to laugh
- It’s all over now Baby Blue
- It’s all right ma
- Just Like a Woman
- Knocking on Heaven’s Door
- Lay down your weary tune
- Lay Lady Lay
- Lenny Bruce
- That brand new leopard skin pill box hat
- Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
- License to kill
- Like a Rolling Stone
- Love is just a four letter word
- Love Sick
- Maggies Farm!
- Make you feel my love; a performance that made me cry.
- Mama you’ve been on my mind
- Man in a long black coat.
- Masters of War
- Meet me in the morning
- Million Miles. Listen, and marvel.
- Mississippi. Listen, and marvel (again)
- Most likely you go your way
- Most of the time and a rhythmic thing
- Motorpsycho Nitemare
- Mr Tambourine Man
- My back pages, with a real treat at the end
- New Morning
- New Pony. Listen where and when appropriate
- Nobody Cept You
- North Country Blues
- No time to think