A Dylan Cover a Day. Time Passes Slowly – just sit down and close your eyes

By Tony Attwood

Caroline Doctorow’s version of “Time Passes Slowly” is one of my all-time favourite Dylan covers – it has everything that I could possibly want from a cover version – an understanding of the song itself, some beautiful harmonies, and a gentle reverence for the original and an excellent performance.

If you don’t know about this lady then I would point you toward her website.    What else can I say about this version, except that it is sublime?

Of course Judy Collins got there long before, and delivers exactly the version you would expect from here, even if you hadn’t heard it before, which I am sure you have.

Her arranger feels the need to build the accompaniment – which is a technique that can get out of hand, and has been done several trillion times before.  But the middle 8 of this song (Ain’t no reason to go) lends itself to her harmonies, and then passes into a beautifully restrained instrumental version.  It all works, and was the absolute masterpiece version this song, until Ms Doctorow came along.

A notable alternative version comes from Moses Wiggins – it was on their “Troubadour” album.    They face the problem of the sold four beats a bar piano part head on, but the elegance of the vocals means they get away with it.   And that’s a hard thing to do – it is one of the most boring piano parts to play (and indeed to listen to) that there is in the Dylan world.

Jochen pointed strongly to Rachel Faro’s version in his review, and yes I can see why, although for my taste the arranger takes us just that little bit too far from the original so that the last line of each verse feels awkward as it resolves all that has gone before.  But that’s me getting all highfalutin about musical whatnots.  And maybe it is because I have just listened to those earlier versions… Probably is.

But as ever, you don’t pay any money (because Untold never charges) and you takes your choice.   (Or am I just referring back to an obscure English expression which is meaningless in the US?   Sorry, if so, but I’ve got no one close by to ask).

Here’s the rest of this series of reviews of Dylan covers in the Cover a Day series.  Over 150 of them, so not enough to keep you going all year, but still, quite a few.

One comment

  1. Reverence for the original?

    The situation in Caroline’s version ends with Transcendental security:
    “Ain’t no reason to go anywhere”

    Whereas the situation in Dylan’s original ends (in the others too) with uncertainty:

    “Time passes slowly, then fades away”

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