A Dylan cover a Day: Things have changed

By Tony Attwood

There seems to be not only a growing number of covers of Things Have Changed but a growing number of really interesting cover versions.   So although we’ve already done an article on the covers of this song once before, I’ve had no trouble with finding another set of songs, and from them, some further thoughts – which basically centre on the fact that there is something within the relaxed, almost resigned nature of the song that allow it to be interpreted in so many different ways.    Take this example from Curtis Stigers – all we have is two very simple instrumental parts, with the vocals meandering around above them.   It’s totally engaging for me, even though I’ve heard the song so many times before.

Perhaps it is the fact that “I used to care but things have changed” is such an evocative line – in just eight words an entire lifestyle is encapsulated.

There is also something in this song that just allows the performers to express a sort of sad recognition of how hopeless everything is, while still expressing their ability to perform and reflect.  Just listen to the guitar solo around 2 minutes 30 seconds, and then the surprise that follows (assuming you haven’t heard this version before).   Once more there are new insights to be had just through what happens there (which I am not revealing because I really don’t want to spoil it if you have not heard this version before.)

This next one from The Persuasions takes us once more into a new dimension for the song.  Now there is a problem, because the recording breaks down suddenly and we lose the music, but I’ve kept this here because even this incomplete recording this does show just how many different ways this song can travel.   Of course that is technically true of all songs, but generally songs that are stretched this way and that, lose their integrity.  But not “Things have changed”.

And if the above were not enough, just listen to String Swing – not only for its instrumentation but also the bounce and the rhythm.  Once more we have a total change and yet the re-arrangement retains the integrity of the lyrics and the music.

There are not too many Dylan songs that I would care even to contemplate writing a dance routine for, let alone actually rehearsing it with a team, but listening to Kokomo (a New Zealand band, I think)  I find an arrangement just emerging in my head.  And it isn’t just the rhythm or just the instrumentation, or the melody, but the lyrics themselves are so utterly suited to every possible interpretation.

Last one coming up.  This keeps the rhythm and the melody the same, but the vocalists’ approach, with the purity both of the solo voice and the harmonies being perfect for this interpretation.   In fact it is this version which is the one I have ended up playing over and again.  I rather suspect it is possible to approach this song in hundreds of different ways with each version being of interest.   It just lends itself to harmonies, to changed rhythms, and … well everything.

And maybe it is also the craziness of the images.   Falling in love with the first woman I meet, putting her in a wheelbarrow and wheeling her down the street…   It is just an utterly amazing couplet which ought to be laughable and yet feels so totally part of the complete essence of the song.

Truly this is one of the great, great, great Dylan songs, and one that can, in the hands of talented performers and arrangers, just go anywhere.

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
  143.  Temporary Like Achilles. Left in the cold, but there’s still something…
  144. The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar
  145. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
  146. The Man in Me
  147. Times they are a-changin’
  148. The Wicked Messenger

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