A Dylan cover a day: Silvio

By Tony Attwood

“Silvio” is one of those songs that sounds to me as if it ought to make a great cover version, and yet, somehow no one has managed to break away from the boundary that Dylan himself placed around the song.

That boundary is the constantly repeated chord sequence with its inherent rhythm.  For what we get are the chords, G F C G, G F C G, over and over and over again.   It is in effect a straight jacket from which no one has truly managed to break free.

But perhaps the best attempt is from Grayson Capps who manages to replace the dominance of that chord sequence by giving the percussion a major part to play.   Indeed most of the time the sequence is no more than hinted at – and so we really do get a new version, rather than just a re-run of the original.

For me this really works, and truly did deserve its place on the Dylan in the 80s collection.  I do hope you have time to play it through to the end – the last 20 seconds are unexpected and a nice bit of fun.

Shane Howard however takes us back to that dominant bass and the chords that it demands.  The harmonica helps, but so determined is the bass that there can be no escape from the song’s origins.   It’s a nice listen, but as much as the band works, and as much as a bass player adds in some decent improvisations, and again as much as the harmonica player works, it is still that same chord sequence, over and over.

Suicide Seven however let their bass player go for a meander and add a whole raft of effects and variations.  As a result I guess this is very much a matter of taste.   Although they do have some fun, as suddenly the guitarist stops half way through a verse and then comes back again – all for reasons I can’t really discern.  And maybe that’s the point: there doesn’t have to be a reason.

But I’m not really sure I can understand where all this is going, or come to that where it has come from, as the Dylan original gets more and more lost inside the variations, sudden changes, variations on the variations, and well, just about anything.    It’s one of those versions that I am glad I have listened to, for the experience, but I really have no desire to listen to again,

And just in case you are wondering, yes, it does finish just after three minutes, as far as I know.  After that it is another song.

Pasaria Colibri is the name of the band, “Oameni buni” is Romanian for “folks” (according to the online dictionary).  According to Wiki Pasărea Colibri means “The Humingbird”.   And they are a Romanian folk supergroup. “Aside from typical Romanian folk instruments and acoustic/electric guitars, the band also made use of digital and analogue synthesizers, pedal steel guitars, and fretless bass.”

I don’t really know, but it’s a bit of fun, and quite likable as least for one play through.  Not sure I would want to go back.  But then I’m not Romanian, so that’s probably very unfair.

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. BoB Dylan’s 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. Ring them bells in many different ways
  123. Romance in Durango, covered and re-written
  124. Sad Eyed Lady of Lowlands, like you won’t believe
  125. Sara
  126. Senor
  127. A series of Dreams; no one gets it (except Dylan)
  128. Seven Days
  129. She Belongs to Me
  130. Shelter from the Storm
  131. Sign on the window


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