A Dylan Cover a Day: Slow Train

by Tony Attwood

This must be just about the most curious “Cover a Day” episode thus far – and given that this is episode 134 of the series (there’s an index at the end to prove it) that is saying something.

I’ve been working through Dylan’s songs in alphabetical order searching for interesting cover versions since November 2021 and have mostly been able to find some recordings of the better-known songs, and from these pick out a few that I personally think are worthy of playing and discussion.  Occasionally there are songs that no one wants to tackle, but normally these are the more obscure pieces.

But Slow Train is different.  Virtually no well-known artists have felt like recording this song, and where unknown performers have taken it on, they really have produced results which I wouldn’t want to put here.  Maybe it is just me having difficulty with a religious song but the covers make no sense to me, or are sung off-key or are just tedious attempts to sound like Bob.

And this raises the question of, “what is a good cover version?”   To me, it is a recording which brings a new perspective to the piece – a new insight perhaps – and which is interesting to listen to.  So on that basis just being different isn’t enough: it has to give me some new thoughts about the song, and where it takes me, as a listener.

Plus of course, it has to sound ok as a recording.

So I was about to give up on Slow Train and move on to the next song in the alphabetical list, after listening to half a dozen or so recordings which quite honestly I found painful, when this turned up.

The information provided is that it is performed by Joseph Israel with Marlon Davis and Chris Meredith and I rather enjoyed it – which is not always something I can say about the insistent reggae rhythm.   I think mostly what makes it work for me is the integrity of the arrangement – it sets out to be something different from the original, and sees it through holding my interest and making it a pleasurable experience throughout.


So that was it: one cover version which I felt I could offer  – which seemed a bit short for an article.  But while I would searching around for any other versions of the song that I felt were presentable, I found a live performance by Bob himself, which I don’t think we’ve featured before.  Not one of his greatest moments, in my view, but it does show that the song can be given a new treatment which makes for an interesting listen.

And that really is about it.  Even the live versions with Tom Petty, which are normally guaranteed to be really interesting and enjoyable seem to be rather forced and ordinary.  Maybe that is because I have got non-Christian ears.

But still, the reggae version was good fun.

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
  132. Silvio
  133. Simple twist of fate

One comment

  1. Jamaican Rostafari (Bob Marley be one) consists of a number of offshoots of the Hebrew-Christian religion wherein black Africans, who are descendants of Queen Sheba and King Solomon and reside in the Promised Land of Ethiopia, get shipped off as slaves to the New Babylon of America.

    After Jah’s (black Jehovah’s) great reckoning they’ll return to their earthly paradise in Africa
    . .. though apparently it’s all a slow, slow, process .

    Compare Joseph Smith’s Mormonism.

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