By Tony Attwood
You might recall a series of articles Jochen Markhorst wrote about “More than Flesh and Blood” in 2021 – and if not there is an index to them at the end of this little piece.
And I mention that today because Aaron Galbraith has just sent over a note about the song saying, “I thought you might be interested to hear this. I believe this is the first officially released studio version of this song. I found the information on the searching for a gem site.”
Here’s what they say…
“MORE THAN FLESH AND BLOOD CAN BEAR, a 1978 song by Bob Dylan and Helena Springs, newly recorded by Bob’s ex-band member Billy Cross with Danish band Dissing Las & Cross, included in their November 2022 Bessie Productions Denmark album “Copenhagen Skyline”. The album also includes a new version of LEGIONNAIRE’S DISEASE, previously recorded by Billy Cross with the Delta Cross Band in 1981.”
Coming back to this song for the first time in a couple of years, I actually rather like it. Now I do agree with Jochen’s assessment that “The song lyrics Dylan writes together with Helena Springs, or the songs that are in both their names anyway, mostly have a cut-and-paste character…
“Dylan doesn’t seem to take the collaboration very seriously anyway. None of the Dylan/Springs songs are selected for recording, only a fraction of the bulk of probably about twenty songs get an occasional live performance. Which seems to be due to the most likely explanation: Dylan himself is not too impressed by the songs either. Only “Stop Now” is said to have been a candidate for Street-Legal for a while – but it has since floated away over the waters of oblivion, too.
“The lyrics of “More Than Flesh And Blood” are perhaps the most unbalanced in that hybrid club, or at least the most frown-inducing. Just take the opening couplet:
You’re fighting for existence, you hate me cos I'm pure You put a hurting on me baby and you make me insecure But to be strong, I must be weak or else I won't endure I love you, but I love you unaware And that's more than flesh and blood can bear More than flesh and blood can bear I reach for you at midnight just to find you're never there And it’s more than flesh and blood can bear
And yes I take the point, but with the sort of beat and production that is put into this version, it makes me want to play it again – not for the lyrics but for the sound. Indeed I immediately found I’m not taking too much notice of the lyrics because there is a fun bounce to the song, which is exactly what I want this Sunday morning, what with my car having broken down on the way home in the early hours. It now sits useless on my drive, and with today being Sunday and tomorrow beaing a public holiday in England, it will so remain for a couple of days. Which means I can’t go anywhere unless I hire a car or persuade my friends to drive me. “More than flesh and blood can bear,” indeed.
Here’s the recording of “Legionnaire’s Disease” that Aaron mentions, and I am going to admit here I stopped it at 1 minute 9 seconds… really I do think this song has very little going for it. But that’s just me. Jochen found a lot more in the song that I have ever done, and his review is here.
And so it is interesting to compare the band’s version of these two songs – one really knocks me out, one leaves me cold.
The More than Flesh and Blood series.
- More Than Flesh And Blood (1978) part I
- More Than Flesh And Blood (1978) part II: Johnnie, that’s called songwriting
- More Than Flesh And Blood (1978) part III: Do right man
- More Than Flesh And Blood (1978) part IV: Exquisite corpse
- More Than Flesh And Blood part V: Time regards a snarky bacterium
- More Than Flesh And Blood: VI – Muddy kickin’ in your stall
- More Than Flesh And Blood part VII: The line dances a jig
- More Than Flesh And Blood part VIII, Unsaddle, Charley
- More Than Flesh And Blood (1978) part IX – final Good groove, strong hook