A Dylan cover a Day: A series of Dreams; no one gets it (except Dylan)

By Tony Attwood

I have always loved this song, not least for the rhythm and the sudden change in the melody line with “comes up to the top” and “series of screams”

Yellowbirds don’t add to much to Bob’s original however apart from a fairly obvious opening using an attempt at abstraction in the music as it builds from silence.  It’s ok, and I imagine if one had not heard Bob’s original version one might be quite intrigued.

And at this point, for once my musical memory failed me, and that is worrying, because I am used to every other aspect of my memory failing me, but NOT my musical memory.  So I had to play Bob’s original version again, and because I want to carry you along on the journey I am following, and because it is just possible you might not have heard it for a while here it is

And I’d like to point out the way that this builds so gradually while that rhythm goes on and on.

Now I obviously don’t know if you ever get that feeling of shivers and temperature change just from listening to a piece of music, but as I write this while I am listening to Bob’s version for the first time in years, I am getting exactly that.

It’s not so much because hearing the music again takes me back to buying the Bootleg 1-3 series, and just wondering what on earth I was going to get, and then finding this track, and thinking that whatever it was I paid for that album, was worth it just for this.

So having established the original, now back to the point of this article: the covers.

I am sorry to say I am not familiar with this band, but I’m informed they are a Belgian indie rock group.  And having reminded myself of every nuance of Bob’s immaculate version this is quite good fun.  The sort of cover that can be enjoyed because of the way they change the original and give new insights and nuances.

It really is a magnificent song!  Bob did play it 10 times in the 1990s, but that low number makes me think that it was there just to help promote the sales of Bootlegs 1-3.

Zita Swoon’s version isn’t one that I want to go back and play again, but a pleasant enough variation on a great original.

Up next came Gallon Drunk, a 1980s English band.  It’s a performance where I think the producer or maybe the band came up with a sound, taking of course the dominance of the percussion from the original, and then see where they can take it.  It’s certainly worth a listen, but in the end, I’m not sure it gives us any further insights into such a brilliant composition.

The song has appeared in languages other than English as well – here is Mimmo Locasciulli – whose “proper job” is as a primary care physician – which I think is what in the UK we call a GP (General Practitioner).  I really must ask my local GP if she’s recorded any Dylan songs.

I utterly love this performance, and although of course it is always possible that I am the only person in the Dylanverse who has not heard this before, maybe if that is not the case this little article can establish this version a little more in the English speaking world.

OK it takes the original in its original form and doesn’t try anything radical, but nevertheless it adds something for me, which makes me want to play it over and over again.

And in fact it is the foreign language versions that I find the most satisfactory perhaps because the performers don’t feel they have to do much to the music because they are translating.   What happens here is that the background is kept where it ought to be.

I really do wish some English or American bands had tried to do this – take it as it is, and add just a little difference rather than a complete re-write.

But more than anything else, on a weekend when I have been screaming at my computer because of a series of failures (which are my own fault for allowing it to become too full, and while I am waiting for the new machine to be fully set up) I take great comfort in going back to this old favourite.

According to the all-seeing Wiki (which I have to use here since I don’t speak Italian) his title in Itlay “Il Principe dei cantautori”  means “The Prince of the singer-songwriters”), and that this comes about because of the “elegance of his lyrics.”  The article adds “He is often referred as singer-songwriter and poet, although he prefers to be identified simply as “artist”.”   If you want to hear more, just let the video above run.  Up next is “I shall be released”.  It is interesting, but doesn’t compare to “Series of Dreams”.

But please don’t leave thinking that anyone can make a decent version of this song because of the excellence of the raw material.  Bobby Sutliff managed to destroy it, and I’m really not going to put a copy of his version here.  If you want more, go back to Bob at the top, and maybe just once when listening, forget Bob himself and listen to the accompaniment.  It is a masterpiece in its own right.  I really cannot explain how much I adore this composition and performance.

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
    115. Precious Angel
    116. Property of Jesus
    117. Queen Jane Approximately
    118. Quinn the Eskimo as it should be performed.
    119. Quit your lowdown ways
    120. Rainy Day Women as never before
    121. Restless Farewell. Exquisite arrangements, unbelievable power
    122. A Dylan Cover a Day: Ring them bells in many different ways
    123. A Dylan cover a day: Romance in Durango, covered and re-written
    124. Dylan cover a day: Sad Eyed Lady of Lowlands, like you won’t believe
    125. Sara
    126. Senor


  1. An ‘anybody but dylan’ rebellion apparently takes place inside the Untold tower, but blasting through the blockaded walls with his tarantula-driven Serman tank he calls “Shadow Kingom”, Dylan puts an end to the insurgency.

  2. **Sherman tank …after American Civil War Union general known for ‘scorched earth policy’

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