A Dylan cover a day: When the deal goes down


I don’t know what it means either: an index to the current series appearing on this website.

A list of the previous  articles in the “Dylan cover a day” series is printed at the end.


By Tony Attwood

As I have confessed in my review of this piece some seven years ago, this is not one of my favourite Bob Dylan songs, perhaps in part because it seems to be based on “Where the Blue of the Night” which I didn’t particularly like either.  I’ve put a copy of that song sung by Bing Crosby below – in common with the convention of the era there is a musical prelude before the part of the song those of us who remember it will primarily recall, which comes in at 38 seconds.  I have a feeling this was one of my mum’s favourites and my dad played this on the piano.

In case you can’t immediately recall Bob’s song after hearing that original above, here it is

So as I have said, Bob’s version never appealed to me much because I always found the 1-2-3 beat over and over again rather plodding and a bit too repetitive for me – but as ever that is just me.  There’s something about slow 6/8 time I just don’t like.

But we can move on to the covers….  starting with Tom Jones whose arranger keeps that 1-2-3 essence – but if like me you really don’t care for that too much, please stay with me because I did find some covers which musically go to other (and in my view) rather more interesting places…  But first Mr Jones (for which I am tempted to say “nothing is happening here” but perhaps I better not).

Now Ava Wynne, whose music I had never come across before, but I have found her website which is charming and helpful in its simplicity and clarity.  If only everyone could have such a view of the world and music!    For that website and this music are as one.  I’m hoping the website is still active as I am about to drop the lady a little note to tell her how much I enjoyed this.  (I know some of my friends and correspondents to this site find such an action odd, but why shouldn’t one say thank you for a beautiful recording that really lifts one out of the ordinary on an overcast day with occasional rain?)   (Actually, perhaps I should write a song on that.  “Overcast day with occasional rain”. I’ve got friends round this afternoon, and there’s a dance tonight, but maybe tomorrow).

This really is a beautiful version of the song, and it ought to have a much wider audience than it ever has had (at least as far as I know).  I’d not heard this before I started the research (to give it a grand name) for this little article, but I am so glad I have.   Quite often the cover versions I find in this series get played once – but this has already been played half a dozen times, and I fear my visitors this afternoon are going to get it as well.

So although I did fear at first that I might have to listen to that three-beats pattern that Bob put in his recording over and over in all covers, to my relief that has not been the case, as obviously some musicians and arrangers felt the same.  Which is to say that without the 123 123 beat emphasising the 6/8 time signature throughout, this is actually a rather beautiful and endearing song.

Moving on, I found Big Brass Bed.who have recorded a beautifully simple and elegant version which shines through because of those combined factors of elegant simplicity.   The 6/8 rhythm is still there but it is restrained and behind the vocals which are of course the most important element in the song.  The accompaniment is needed as an accompaniment, and that’s what this recording gives us.  It knows its place.

The relaxed style without the ceaseless emphasis on the 6/8 time signature is retained by Jordan Officer, although we do get some rather curious sudden guitar bursts at the start, and indeed occasionally thereafter.   It just shows how differently each of us can hear the song.

I wonder who decided to put all that guitar work in, and more to the point why.  What does it have to do with the musical and vocal conception of the song?   Indeed I am not sure I have heard what to me sounds like a more inappropriate accompaniment.  But that is probably just me – the voice is so perfect for this song, it doesn’t need that guitar part.

Now finally for Nattens Afskedskys (which literally translated from the Danish is “The goodbye kiss of the night” or so I am told.).  This is by Steffan Brandt, and although the six beats in a bar are still there it almost comes over as a two beats in the bar song, which I much prefer.   I’m not always convinced by the instrumentation, but I love the female vocals that come in for the second verse.

This version really begins to make me think that if we could have cover version with a very simple accompaniment without all the guitar effects that really could work.  This is very good, and once again the female vocals are used to terrific effect but Big Brass Bed still wins. hands down.  But Steffan Brandt gets a most honourable mention.   But of course, it’s all just my opinion.

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
  171. When the night comes falling from the sky
  172. When the ship comes in
  173. When He Returns



  1. It’s back to Blake again:

    In the still of the night
    In the world’s ancient light
    (Bob Dylan: When The Deal Goes Down)

  2. Indeed, haunted shades of William Blake’s rather ‘gnostic’ outlook:

    In the still of the night
    In the world’s ancient light
    Where wisdom grows up in strife
    (When The Deal Goes Down: Dylan)

  3. By the way, I agree that the Big Brass Bed version is the bee’s knees.

    In fact I like a lot of their covers – in particular their “Summer Days” is a lot of fun. (I notice that you missed that song out – maybe you couldn’t find enough decent covers to make an article?)

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