By Tony Attwood
The normal approach in this series is for me to find a number of cover versions of a particular song composed by Dylan and put up links to them with a few notes relating to my own feelings about the song, the covers and anything else that pops into my head while I am writing.
But this is different. For “Trouble” is a ten-minute track by Isabella Lundgrun in which the credits suggest the song is written by the performer. The piece opens with what one might call an avant-garde improvisation, which may or may not be to your taste.
But then at around 2 minutes 50 seconds we get
Trouble in the city, trouble in the farm You got your rabbit’s foot, you got your good-luck charm But they can’t help you none when there’s trouble
which of course are the lyrics from Bob Dylan’s “Trouble”. And meanwhile, I am sure you can’t have missed the link between the cover above and a certain album by Bob…
But back to the recording, in fact we get the first four verses of Bob’s song, before we return to the avant garde improvisation until at 7’45” we get the last verse followed by a coda.
Now I don’t have a copy of “Out of the bell jar” but looking it up it is clear that this is an album of reinterpretations of Dylan’s work, and of course there’s nothing wrong with that. Indeed this whole series is about exactly that. But I think this is the first time I have come across a complete musical re-write, and certainly the first re-write in an avant-garde form.
And as it happens in my 20s I did play in an avant-garde ensemble for a while – the Scratch Orchestra under the direction of Cornelius Cardew, before ultimately deciding this form of music was not for me (although I am sure the rest of the ensemble knew that long before I did). Interestingly Cardew, an infinitely superior musician to myself, made the same musical decision a little later about the music, although politically he remained committed to the very far very hard left, while I softened rather a lot.
But to get back to the music … no it’s not for me, and I don’t want to play it again, and I really can’t remember why I was drawn to it all those years ago.
Here, for me, the avant-garde introduction before we get to the lyrics seems to be completely disconnected from the song itself. Yes I know that the confusion of the instrumentation can be considered a representation of trouble, but then, that’s a bit too easy, and a bit too disconnected from what the song does.
So as I say not one for me – but I am sorry to say I can’t find any other cover versions of the song either freely available via a youtube link or on Spotify. If you know of one (or indeed if you would like to tell me why I’m wrong) please do write in. As ever it is Tony@schools.co.uk or you can of course leave a comment.