A Dylan Cover a Day: Temporary Like Achilles. Left in the cold, but there’s still something…

By Tony Attwood

In running this series, which started as a diversion during Covid lockdown in England, when we were more or less refused permission to leave our houses, while (it later emerged) the government was throwing parties in Downing Street, I’ve found a number of songs that leave me wondering, why is no one covering them?

“Temporary Like Achilles” is one such.  Dylan has never played it live (as Jochen pointed out, the only Blonde song not even to be rehearsed for a possible run through), and hardly anyone has ever bothered to record it.    Yet as my esteemed fellow-writer says, “on an album by any other artist, this song would be the prom queen.”

Temporary Like Achilles – The Don Olsen.  I’m finding it difficult to get a handle on “The Don Olsen” – if I have got that name right.  There are several Don Olsen’s around and I can’t work out which one made this fabulous recording, why the band is called “The Don Olsen” and what else this guy has done.  Please if you know, can you comment here.

But back to the song… what this recovering reveals is just how much can be made out of this song.   And what we have learned over the years is that if one musician or group can do it, so can others – if only they’d try.

But there is a second, and that comes from my favourite bunch of Dylan interpreters, Old Crow Medicine Show.   Inventive and wonderful as ever, they will go where others fear to… well record I guess.

Even a search on Spotify has not revealed anything else.  But at least we have two versions that are really worth listening to.   Sorry it’s only two, but still, better than nothing.

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
  137. Standing in the Doorway
  138. Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
  139. Subterranean Homesick Blues
  140. Sweetheart Like You
  141. Tangled up in Blue
  142. Tears of Rage


  1. From a narrative point of view:

    In mythology, warrior Achilles is under a duty to save Helen, but is remiss when the Greek commander disrespects him ….

    Could be said in Dyan’s version that Achilles casts a lustful eye on the Greek beauty himself, ….

    At least, temporarily , he’s like Trojan Paris.

  2. Only two??

    Kevin Morby, prior to Crow, records “Temporary Like Achilles”

    Replaces ‘so hard’ with ‘too hard’ (Utube)

  3. Andy thanks for that, and yes it is a fabulous version which I should have included. I can’t tell you why I didn’t except to offer the rather feeble answer that it’s basically the way I work. I sit at the computer, realise that “Cover a Day” is the next article to be published, look at the list of Dylan songs in alphabetical order, and go down to the next song with lots of covers. Then start working through the covers I remember, and then whatever else pops up when I go searching. And then the phone rings or I have to stop because I’ve got stuff to write that people are paying for and I have to get on. So sadly it is all very unscientific, and ill-considered, and hence I miss some real gems like this.
    But on the other hand I rather like the fact that it is a bit haphazard – after all my choice is never going to be other people’s choices, and there is always the thought that when I get down to “You’ve been hiding too long” (if anyone has ever covered that!) I go back to the start and do a series “All the covers I missed”. If I am still writing by then – and if people are still kind enough to be reading.

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