By Tony Attwood with recordings presented by Mike Johnson in the Never Ending Tour Series.
In this series we look at the way Bob has transformed certain songs over time in his live performances, in particular looking for the progression in his feelings about, and his understanding of, what the song offers, what the song says, where it can be taken next, and even on occasion how he can reinterpret the past.
So far we’ve looked at
- Blind Willie McTell. 1997-2006
- Blowing in the Wind. 1991-2001
- Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
- It Ain’t me Babe from 1994-1998.
- Like a Rolling Stone 1988 to 2002
- Love sick from the very start to 2000
- Masters of War 1978 to 2000.
- Never Ending Tour Extended: It’s all over now baby blue
- Tangled up in Blue 1988 to 1993
- The Drifters’ Escape. 1996-2005.
- The Hard Rain of 1988, 2003 and 2015
- Things have changed 2000-2007
- Visions of Johanna
One Too Many Mornings was played 237 times between February 1966 and July 2005.
Our first recording comes from 1989 part 2 in the article 1989 Part 2 – A fire in the sun
The spacing of the lines shows us a new set of thoughts about these past days and certainly gives me the feeling Bob is reflecting on those times past, rather than just trying to create a melody to fit over the chord sequence – which in fact is what he has done.
There is, for me, a great deal of extra space within the piece which gives that extra reflectiveness – as if to say yes, I know I wrote this when I was much younger, but it is only now that these feelings really mean something to the present day Dylan, rather than just being another song from the early days.
For me this gives a strange feeling: a feeling that he wrote this song about the past so that it could have its true meaning explored in the future.
In 1990 there was more vibrancy to the song – as if the feelings of the past can now be reflected upon without them totally dominating the way the world is now seen.
There is indeed a power that drives the music forward – such that when he says that he is right from his side just as you are from yours the new meaning is clear – we all have our views and our ability to connect with each us through discussion is lost – we are simply all independent people who have lost the ability to communicate.
Such a view is emphasised through the instrumental verses – with the addition of an extra level of regret that appears in the harmonica verse, especially in the way that the harmonica and the guitar intermingle.
And then we come back to the first verse again – an interesting turn around for Dylan. He really is now making the point. And If you are not convinced listen to the final instrumental verse. For me, he really, really, really wants to say we are all going in different directions. A stunning performance.
So what did you expect next? A banjo? No surely not! But oh yes, this recording is taken from 1993 part four in the NET series. (1993, part 4 – The Supper Club and beyond).
Could Bob get even more out of such a simple song? Well yes – he’s now slowed the song right down, and that banjo is there throughout, and Bob himself is so plaintive it is hard to believe the piece has not always been written this way.
I have to admit to being amazed and stunned at the same time. Obviously, I listen to each and every recording from the Tour as we publish the NET series – that’s part of my job – but somehow I’d not remembered anything like this happening to “One too many.” Somehow Bob has taken the simplest of songs with really simple lyrics and not only made them work in the original recording but found new meanings and new interpretations.
For me the Never Ending Tour series on this site, which of course I have merely published, not written, gives amazing insights into Dylan’s work. These little investigations into individual songs over time however show just how incredible his musicianship is, and how extraordinarily deep and powerful even the simplest of songs is.