Once or twice: You Angel You



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

Once or twice: A recently inaugurated review of songs that Bob has performed just once or twice on stage. Previously we looked at 

By Tony Attwood

You Angel You was played on January 14 and 8 February 1990 and was picked up for this site by Mike Johnson in Songs of love, songs of betrayal.

It is interesting to hear the immediate cheer from the crowd.   And as ever I bemused why Bob would play this twice and not work on it further, as he has done with so many other songs.

That is not to say that this is a particularly wonderful version of the song, (there is one such, and I’ve put it at the end, but it is not by Bob) but Bob has worked on far less successful early live versions of his songs and given them a new life on stage.  But with this song, that was not to be.

So why do I like the song so much, and why does Bob not think enough of it to include it in the set list more than a couple of times?

Well, it is a very straightforward love song – and that is of course not the essence of most of Dylan’s most famous compositions.   But the middle 8 is truly exceptional in a musical sense – as indeed the last cover version (below) shows.

However, I suspect Bob feels that the lyrics are just not very Dylan.   There’s nothing at all wrong with them of course…

You angel youYou got me under your wingAnd the way you walk and the way you talkFeel I could almost sing

You angel youYou're as fine as anything's fineThough I just walk and I watch you talkYour memory's on my mind

… it is just that they are the lyrics of a straightforward love song and nothing more.  I mean, if a lady ever wrote such lines to me I’d be floating so high in the sky I don’t think I’d ever come down.

But no, it is not the lyrics that have made me choose to go back to this song today; it is the elegance of the music in the middle 8 that really makes this song so special – the section that begins “Even though I can’t sleep at night for trying”.  That first line of the middle 8 suggests we are going to have more lines in that format, but immediately the song changes into a new pattern.

Never did feel this way before
I get up at night and walk the floor
If this is love then gimme more
And more and more and more and more

Again it is not very Dylan, and that’s probably what Bob thought, I guess, but I love it.

This is of course a very different version from that on the Planet Waves album.

Aaron and I did a piece on the cover versions of this song in the Beautiful Obscurity series, and indeed one of those really did knock me out at the time.

In fact it was that version above that turned me onto this song which in turn led me back to Bob’s version.   But I have to admit, I’ve still never found anything that surpasses this cover version above.

And that is one of the most wonderful things of working on this website.  I keep finding and being reminded of recordings like this.

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