A Dylan Cover a Day: Standing in the Doorway

By Tony Attwood

A Dylan Cover A Day – the title made sense during lockdown when we were looking for ways to fill the time.  Now it is more like a Dylan cover every two weeks, but we’re still working through the songs in alphabetical order for this series, and so I don’t really get much choice as to what comes next (except that there are some songs with only one or two covers, which don’t seem to add much so I quickly move on, ignoring those.)

And so coming to this song, one of my all-time Dylan favourites, I was surprised how few cover versions I found.  And doubly surprised that for those which I could find with freely available copies on YouTube, they were all by women – except for the version in Norwegian, which I’ve added at the end.

I’ve often used this site to rave over the work of Chrissie Hynde so no surprise really that I’m starting with her.   Interestingly the accompaniment is a little louder and her voice a little softer than I would have anticipated, but then the singer is totally lost so there is a sense in that.

Listening to this song again for the first time in quite a long while I am struck by the incredible power that is generated by these simple words.    I’m not sure about the video, but then, I’m really here for the music.

Jenny Lewis places all the emphasis, in contrast, on the beautiful melody and the exquisite lyrics of pain, torment, despair and to a degree hope.    There is of course the opportunity for the guitarist to overdo his part when we get to “I’m strummin’ on my gay guitarSmokin’ a cheap cigar” and yes that doesn’t help to my ear, but it is an interesting arrangement.


Back with a studio recording, Sofia Lam’s voice is so distinctive, everything bends around that.  As she says on her You Tube page “I post whatever I feel and mainly for memories” and why not?

Bonny Raitt often collaborated with Warren Zevon, and if you have read my ramblings elsewhere on this site you’ll know that means something to me, and draws me in with extra attention.   I like this, not just for the voice but particularly for the way the accompaniment is handled.  Somehow it means that the lyrics come out much more meaningfully, seemingly without an extra effort.  It makes me feel that elsewhere, sometimes the producer or director is trying to get too much out of the band when that is not needed at all.

I porten from Tore Hestbråten is the song in Norwegian, and I’ve left this until near the end because I only found it today while preparing this little article.   And although I don’t speak a word of the language I find something very special within this performance.

Which shows that although the lyrics are sublime it is the melody that really adds to the song.  Bob only played it 58 times over a seven year period, and yet, and yet… it is a staggeringly beautiful song.  So why so few covers?  Why so few performances from Bob?

It is not as if it is difficult to perform, nor hard to imagine a different arrangement (how about it with a string quartet as a backing track).   So quite why it hasn’t attracted more artists I struggle to resolve.

Fortunately for you, dear reader, you are not going to be subjected to my version, recorded to prove to myself there is nothing there that causes particular problems for the artist.  But I can say from the experience, “do it gently; don’t get carried away; just let the words speak”.

But then, that’s just me.

And a postscript: I do sometimes get irate emails along the lines of “I can’t believe you didn’t include….”   The reason as often as not is that I couldn’t find a freely available video of the song that would play in the UK and USA.  It’s not always my odd taste.  So if you are tempted to point out a great version, please also give me a link to it on Youtube so it can be included.

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
  134. Slow Train
  135. Someday Baby
  136. Spanish Harlem Incident

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