By Tony Attwood
Technical note: this article was first published on 1 June 2023, but for reasons totally beyond my grasp, did not appear on the indexes; hence its republication on 2 June.
Somehow “Senor” has never been one of the Dylan compositions that has particularly grabbed me – but it obviously appealed to Bob having been performed 265 times between 1978 and 2011.
And it appeals to those who like to cover Bob’s work, and while many do take the song and simply add an accompaniment in their own preferred style, a few have explored where else the song might lead.
I’m really taken by the first example today – the Bob Porter Project. The guys manage to pack all the regret that is expressed in the lyrics, into the music, not least by varying the timing of the lyrics slightly, to add to that feeling. I love this version – and even if it doesn’t appeal to you, please do hold on to the short instrumental break. These guys know when not to play as much as how to play. They are described as “An Americana band from Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK …a fine blend of mellow Alt Country and gritty.” I last saw them play in Northampton (I think – it was a while back) with my pal Pat and the gang. A great evening out.
Diva de Lai are described as Bob Dylan at the Opera, although to be clear the accompaniment is straight rock; it is the vocals that are operatic. It’s an interesting approach in my opinion, but having heard a couple of verses, I was not sure I was wanting to go much further.
Dierks Bentley on the other hand is a country singer, and he gives us a country version exactly as Diva de Lai offer an operatic version; which is to say “This is our style and we’ere seeing it through to the end, no matter what.” It’s inevitably much lighter with the banjo, violin and close harmonies. I’m not a country fan any more than an opera buff, but I did enjoy this. I could almost believe this is how was originally intended to be performed.
Willie Nelson however took the song as one of sadness and depression and then just in case this were not enough, took it into the double extra negative side of those emotions. Having heard the upbeat versions, I am not sure I really want this, although the brass accompaniment works rather well.
I must admit that by the time I got to number five on the list I think I had had enough Senors. It almost seems as if the artists too often get to the song thinking “ok this is all about pleading, so I have to fill my vocals with pleading.” And then the producer asks them to add some sadness.
Yes that is true in the lyrics, but sometimes it is enough to have that emotional message in the lyrics – putting it in the music as well can, on occasion, be overkill.
Which is a shame for this recording because there are some fine moments in the performance… but then with the instrumental break I am just left thinking someone involved in the recording was just trying to go too far to make this sound different.
In the end I felt the need to go back and play the Dierks Bentley version again, just to make sure I didn’t spend the rest of the day full of regret at something or other that happened sometime or other, to someone else.
Perhaps that is the problem. Maybe it is a song to be listened to at night, not at 9.30am. Perhaps it should come with a warning to that effect on the label. Except I suspect the Bentley version will work any time of day you want it.
- The Dylan Cover a Day series
- 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
- Obviously Five Believers
- Oh Sister
- On the road again
- One more cup of coffee
- (Sooner or later) one of us must know
- One too many mornings
- Only a hobo
- Only a pawn in their game
- Outlaw Blues – prepare to be amazed
- Oxford Town
- Peggy Day and Pledging my time
- Please Mrs Henry
- Political world
- Positively 4th Street
- Precious Angel
- Property of Jesus
- Queen Jane Approximately
- Quinn the Eskimo as it should be performed.
- Quit your lowdown ways
- Rainy Day Women as never before
- Restless Farewell. Exquisite arrangements, unbelievable power
- A Dylan Cover a Day: Ring them bells in many different ways
- A Dylan cover a day: Romance in Durango, covered and re-written
- Dylan cover a day: Sad Eyed Lady of Lowlands, like you won’t believe