A Dylan cover a day: “To Be Alone With You”

By Tony Attwood

To be alone with you was issued on Nashville Skyline and became a regular on the Never Ending Tour, being performed over 300 times, taking its final bow so far on 3 December 2023.

Yet despite being an easily accessible song, open to interpretations, it has not proven to be one of the most covered of Dylan compositions.  Yes there are covers, but not as many as I suspected there might be – nor indeed as many variations in style and form as I thought there would be as I started looking, when considering what to say in this little piece.

Catherine Howe takes the bounce of the song to make that the central feature and adds some lovely vocal harmonies – but then all of that makes the harmonica in the first verse seem a little odd to me.

Indeed by the second verse it begins to feel to me as if everything possible is being thrown at the song.   There’s the chorus, some do-do-do and oo-oo-oo effects and the sax prodding away in the background.   I rather fancy that the song would do better with a bit less.

Steve Gibbons gives us a more solid rock basis and the band fully understands where they are going and what they are doing.   It becomes a nice piece of dance music – nothing very special (for me) and one of those Dylan songs that I end up thinking, well, yes, ok.  Maybe; fine; what’s next?

Sue Foley’s version is a real contrast with the rock approach above and she uses her voice to make as much as possible of the song, which I suspect is what is needed in covers of this piece.  It bops along but constantly I want to listen just to hear what she does with her voice – the sound becomes almost salacious – although that could just be an inappropriate reaction of an old man sitting alone in his house.  (I would add that as soon as I’ve written this and had a coffee I am jumping in the car and driving to London to watch the football, so that should.   The line “I need somethin’ strong to distract my mind, I’m gonna look at you ’til my eyes go blind” is suddenly in my head and I’ve lost tough with the song I am supposedly writing about.)

Back on planet Earth, Maria Muldaur also uses her voice, but gets a totally different feeling out of the song.  This is much more seductive in a restrained manner – and of course the album is called “Love songs of Bob Dylan” – and that’s what she makes it.

It’s an interesting piece, and clearly, by playing it over 300 times Dylan really likes it, but somehow for me, it is still not up there as a major piece.   But Sue Foley came in and gave me something to think about, and that’s never a bad thing.

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.


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