A Dylan Cover a Day: When the night comes falling from the sky

By Tony Attwood

This is one of those songs where lots of amateur performers have created solo versions which they feel are worthy of worldwide attention and so have put them on the internet, but which professional performers have by and large tended to ignore.

And in such circumstances, I do listen to the amateur productions in the hope of finding a pearl, but the problem is that such performers do tend to perform it as Dylan does – or as near as they can get.  Which is the problem – because we’ve already got the Dylan versions

Unless of course this is one of those occasions where I have simply not found the ultimate cover – which is in fact the conclusion I reach at the end (just in case you don’t want to plough through all my ramblings).

This song was never a Dylan favourite – he played it on tour some 61 times during the 1986/7 tour, but that was it – at least according to the official site (which, if you are a regular reader of my ramblings on other topics here, you will know we have now discovered is not as accurate as one might wish.)

Anyway, we have a few versions, so here we go…

Jeff Healey Band

This version starts on around one minute, after the introductory chitchat from the double guitarist – double in the sense that he is playing two guitars – one as a rhythm guitar and the other as a lead which he switches to for the brief breaks.   I have to admit I have not seen this done before, and it is done in the instrumental break with extraordinary effect.

I imagine it must take a huge amount of practice to move from the standard way of playing to be able to do this, although as far as I know he always played like this from the very start.

I find this an utterly stunning piece of reworking of the Dylan song, which really takes the original much, much further.

Jeff Healey died of cancer in 2007 – a tragic loss.

The Black Crows

The Black Crows go in for a full-bloodied full-on version, which I guess reflects the implication of tragedy contained within the title.   And yet I am not sure this is the right treatment.  After all the lyrics begin

You can look out across the fields, see me returningSmoke is in your eye, you draw a smileFrom the fireplace where all my letters to you are burningYou've had time to think about it for a while

But maybe we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the lyrics.


But of course, the song doesn’t have to be belted out at full blast  and in this next version it seems to me the lyrics are considered much more comprehensively

I walked 200 miles, now look me overIt's the end of the chase and the moon is highIt don't matter who loves whoEither you love me or I love youWhen the night comes falling from the sky

I particularly like the way the percussion holds back, although when it does enter fulsomely in the third verse, I have a feeling that maybe it is just too much.  But there again there are those lovely harmonies over the repeated title line.

But still, for me, by this time we are getting rather overloaded – and it strikes me a set of singers could do an unaccompanied version of this.   For here I think that they have taken the song up so far before the instrumental break that it then urgently needs taking back down thereafter.

And they do this with the solo section, but then in comes that percussion again.   Overall it is tantalisingly close to a version I can hear in my head, but destroyed by an unneeded accompaniment.

And yes I do appreciate that the concept of the night falling from the sky is dramatic – but I just imagine a contrast between that repeated line, and … well,, silence.

Dylan and Petty

I’m sorry to say I can’t make out what Bob is saying at the start of this piece – and that’s a shame for it could be just the insight into what he then does that I am looking for.

As you will expect the two rockers treat this as a rock song – and of course it works perfectly well as that.   So my thoughts about it being a much gentler song are really just about its potential.    For me, the female chorus is not needed – and yes of course the concept of the night falling is as dramatic as you can get.   So it’s just me.  I’ve had enough drama; I’d like the sky to fall gently and quietly – such an event could be just as dramatic.

But then, if your audience is standing and bouncing up and down and indeed going wild, this is what they want.

Previously in the 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
  149. Things have changed
  150. This Wheel’s on Fire
  151. Thunder on the mountain
  152. Till I fell in love with you in the north of Norway
  153. Time Passes Slowly – just sit down and close your eyes
  154. To be alone with you
  155. To Ramona: unexpectedly yes!
  156. Tombstone Blues
  157. Tonight I’ll be Staying Here With You
  158. Too much of nothing
  159. Trouble as you have never been troubled before
  160. Tryin’ to get to Heaven
  161.  Unbelievable
  162. “Up to Me” and a return to earlier days
  163. Visions of Johanna
  164. Walking down the line
  165. Whatcha gonna do
  166. Well Well Well
  167. Went to see the Gypsy.
  168. What good am I
  169. What was it you wanted
  170. When I paint my masterpiece


  1. What Bob says before performng “When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky”:

    Thank you
    Here’s a song I wrote a while back …a record called ‘Empire Burlesque’
    But I know it’s not here yet
    I just got out of prison
    Anyway, a time I was talking to people – you know, the kind of people that sit around and judge you all the time
    How many of you people have had that kind of experience?
    You know the kind of people that constantly say “impress me”
    You feel like that you got to impress them all the time
    Judges … they judge you all the time
    I don’t like those kind of people

  2. Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged
    (Matthew 7: 1,2)

    That is, one cannot know what troubles lie within another’s heart.

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