A Dylan Cover a Day 115: Precious Angel

By Tony Attwood

Overtly religious songs are not my favourites, irrespective of what particular religion they seek to promote, for one reason because I’m an atheist and for another because the message that this or that religion is the one true way tends to be rather too simple a song concept for my taste.  (Although of course since the message, if true, is the biggest message of all, I guess for the believers there is an excuse).

But I do make an exception for “Precious Angel” which is a beautiful song, musically and lyrically, in my view.  Which in turn makes it rather strange that so few covers are available – and those that are really don’t add too much to what we got in the original.

Esteban Paez

Esteban Paez also had a go at my favourite Dylan religious song, “When He Returns” – which again for me doesn’t quite reach the force of Dylan’s live version which I have raved over before, but it is still worth a listen.

Anyway moving on… the desire to make the covers as close to Dylan’s original work seems to be what actually shines through with the versions of this song I’ve found.  Danielle Brillo is another example.  Yes there are differences from the original, but hardly enough to make it worth all the effort, it seems to me.

Simply Dylan of course know what they are doing because Dylan songs are what they do, live on stage.   And here again the point is the same – this is as close a copy of the original as they can get.   So 10/10 for copying (and I don’t mean that sarcastically – it is very hard to get this sort of thing this close).  And the chorus of ladies adds something extra, but I am not sure I am really moved.

But finally, I got some help (and most certainly not for the first time) from Jochen whose article on this site, Precious Angel. Unpopular, otherwise brilliant  contains a version I missed.

Since Jochen did all the work in finding this, I let him have the final say…

“…only the Renee Zellweger version from the film approaches the beauty of the original.

“For cinematographic reasons, that version is limited to one verse and one chorus and that really is a shame; beautifully, intimately arranged and surprisingly well sung by the actress, who seems to sing the second voice too. The fragment adorns a silent film scene, in which Zellweger in her wheelchair is illuminated by the light of fireworks, you torch up the night.

“Her eyes slowly fill with tears.”


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
  106. One too many mornings
  107. Only a hobo
  108. Only a pawn in their game
  109. Outlaw Blues – prepare to be amazed
  110. Oxford Town
  111. Peggy Day and Pledging my time
  112. Please Mrs Henry
  113. Political world
  114. Positively 4th Street

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