A Dylan cover a day: One too many mornings

By Tony Attwood

Looking at just a handful of the many many cover versions of “One too many mornings” I am struck by the fact that I have inside me a notion of how this song should be performed.  As a plaintive, calm, gentle piece – nothing more.  And so attempts to add more to the song than this calm gentleness always leave me reaching for the off button.  The song is about loss and sadness, and if the music doesn’t reflect that, then it takes the song to another place which really has nothing much to do with the lyrics.

After all the lines

When ev'rything I'm a-sayin'
You can say it just as good

are a stunningly overwhelming statement from the man who became the Nobel Prize winner as a result of this type of writing.

And of course my answer is “No Bob we can’t say it just as good, but I know what you mean”.  And that response doesn’t leave much musical room for reinterpretation.  It has to be calm, it has to be simple, it has to be reflective.   It is just some people never quite got the message.

This first version I have chosen is not one that I like – but I have chosen it to try and show why.  The arranger has changed the words, the chord sequence and the rhythm, to turn it into a bouncy country-ish song which takes away all the power from the original.  This is only the same song in the sense that the lyrics are the same and so is some of the melody.   As a result the power and force of Dylan’s original work has vanished.  It has become trivia.  And whatever the original is, it most certainly is not trivia.

And here again with Steve Howe we have another attempt to re-write the piece.  Just listen to the descending four chords played in close proximity at the end of the verse, or the addition of the banjo part.  These again have nothing to with the power and emotion portrayed by the simplicity of Dylan’s lyrics and the music in the original version of the song.  As for the “woo woo” during the end of the instrumental, had this been a record I was playing rather than a recording from the internet, the disc would have gone out of the window, and the cracked remains left on the patio a floor below, as a testimony to what one should never do with a perfect song.

I could go on – including perhaps Abijah doing a reggae version but no, I have tormented my brain, and possibly yours, enough.  Let us travel in a different direction.

This is what one should do if one wants to do a cover of this song – or at least it is one of many possibilities – in this case Siobhan Miller.   The melody is changed slightly and of course so has the accompaniment.  And yes there is an extra line added occasionally.  Plus there are also additional instruments – but it all keeps the essence of the song.  The reflection, the calmness, the sadness are still there.   You’re alright on your side and I’m all right on mine, now once again means something.  I love this.

Aaron wrote a really interesting review of the song and nominated a couple of performances to include.  David Gray knows a lot about what songs actually mean and say, and this is no exception.   He adds extras, but they are appropriate extras.  OK I am not sure about the “Everybody knows” addition, but I’ll forgive him this as the rest really works because everything is kept under control.

But I want to finish with Stephen Inglis, and if all he had on offer was the introduction of this song, then that would be enough for me to include this version.  Musically the opening minute is a complete calming statement which cools me down, and takes me back to the original lyrics, hearing them not as lyrics I know by heart but something I am listening to for the first time.

When ev'rything I'm a-sayin'
You can say it just as good

Well Bob, no that’s not quite true, as you well know.  But thanks for the thought.  On a bad day it is quite cheering to pretend it is 10% true.

The Dylan Cover a Day series

  1. The song with numbers in the title.
  2. Ain’t Talkin
  3. All I really want to do
  4.  Angelina
  5.  Apple Suckling and Are you Ready.
  6. As I went out one morning
  7.  Ballad for a Friend
  8. Ballad in Plain D
  9. Ballad of a thin man
  10.  Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
  11. The ballad of Hollis Brown
  12. Beyond here lies nothing
  13. Blind Willie McTell
  14.  Black Crow Blues (more fun than you might recall)
  15. An unexpected cover of “Black Diamond Bay”
  16. Blowin in the wind as never before
  17. Bob Dylan’s Dream
  18. You will not believe this… 115th Dream revisited
  19. Boots of Spanish leather
  20. Born in Time
  21. Buckets of Rain
  22. Can you please crawl out your window
  23. Can’t wait
  24. Changing of the Guard
  25. Chimes of Freedom
  26. Country Pie
  27.  Crash on the Levee
  28. Dark Eyes
  29. Dear Landlord
  30. Desolation Row as never ever before (twice)
  31. Dignity.
  32. Dirge
  33. Don’t fall apart on me tonight.
  34. Don’t think twice
  35.  Down along the cove
  36. Drifter’s Escape
  37. Duquesne Whistle
  38. Farewell Angelina
  39. Foot of Pride and Forever Young
  40. Fourth Time Around
  41. From a Buick 6
  42. Gates of Eden
  43. Gotta Serve Somebody
  44. Hard Rain’s a-gonna Fall.
  45. Heart of Mine
  46. High Water
  47. Highway 61
  48. Hurricane
  49. I am a lonesome hobo
  50. I believe in you
  51. I contain multitudes
  52. I don’t believe you.
  53. I love you too much
  54. I pity the poor immigrant. 
  55. I shall be released
  56. I threw it all away
  57. I want you
  58. I was young when I left home
  59. I’ll remember you
  60. Idiot Wind and  More idiot wind
  61. If not for you, and a rant against prosody
  62. If you Gotta Go, please go and do something different
  63. If you see her say hello
  64. Dylan cover a day: I’ll be your baby tonight
  65. I’m not there.
  66. In the Summertime, Is your love and an amazing Isis
  67. It ain’t me babe
  68. It takes a lot to laugh
  69. It’s all over now Baby Blue
  70. It’s all right ma
  71. Just Like a Woman
  72. Knocking on Heaven’s Door
  73. Lay down your weary tune
  74. Lay Lady Lay
  75. Lenny Bruce
  76. That brand new leopard skin pill box hat
  77. Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
  78. License to kill
  79. Like a Rolling Stone
  80. Love is just a four letter word
  81. Love Sick
  82. Maggies Farm!
  83. Make you feel my love; a performance that made me cry.
  84. Mama you’ve been on my mind
  85. Man in a long black coat.
  86. Masters of War
  87. Meet me in the morning
  88. Million Miles. Listen, and marvel.
  89. Mississippi. Listen, and marvel (again)
  90. Most likely you go your way
  91. Most of the time and a rhythmic thing
  92. Motorpsycho Nitemare
  93. Mozambique
  94. Mr Tambourine Man
  95. My back pages, with a real treat at the end
  96. New Morning
  97. New Pony. Listen where and when appropriate
  98. Nobody Cept You
  99. North Country Blues
  100. No time to think
  101. Obviously Five Believers
  102. Oh Sister
  103. On the road again
  104. One more cup of coffee
  105. (Sooner or later) one of us must know

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