By Tony Attwood
For me this is one of the few songs for which the definitive recording does not come from Bob himself. If you know this song, you’ll know that I am referring to the Susan Tedeschi version. If you don’t know it, do try it.
But first, here’s Bob, with the classic slow 12 bar blues.
Ms Tedeschi has been called a mix of Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin but if you get to hear her music you should also recognise her guitar style which seems to come from, well, everywhere at once. The fact that everyone from John Mellencamp, to the Allman Brothers and then the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, invited her to open concerts tells you just how highly other musicians rate her.
Anyway, onto the song. It is highly rated by those who have written about it – and so it should be, but that raises the issue of why it was not part of Infidels. Two main reasons are given – one was Dylan was trying to avoid critics asking questions about which of his children this is about, and the other is because the song (not the lyrics) are highly derivative.
Now here I must admit failure. I am not an aficionado of gospel music, but I do know this melody and chord sequence from elsewhere in the genre, and one day I will find it – or someone will point it out to me. It is derivative, and I think this might be the real reason for leaving it off the album.
As for which of Bob’s children he’s talking about, it is unclear.
He’s young and he’s wild
but then also
As his youth now unfolds
And then again just a line or two later
Just to see him at play makes me smile
I think the run of the words is much more important to Bob that it being about one person, and I doubt that he was specifically talking about one of his children, but rather all his children. Or writing just about the feelings most parents have for all their children. Interpreting individual lines as having an absolute meaning is a mug’s game with Dylan – and quite probably doubly so here.
But at the end Bob returns to quasi-religious themes, and that is the surprise really because of the context of what has just been written…
- Someone’s got a hold of my heart / Tight connection to my heart
- Neighbourhood Bully
- Tell Me
- Foot of Pride
- Julius and Ethel
So I find it interesting that after those previous songs Bob should write this – it is out of context of what has gone before. Especially with
There’ll be a time I hear tell
When all will be well
When God and man will be reconciled
But until men lose their chains
And righteousness reigns
Lord, protect my child
It must have been a great sentimental evening. The only trouble is the reconciliation will come after Armageddon, and not too many of us will be left by then.
But aside from that, then we come to something quite remarkable – “Lord Protect my Child” by Dave Brubeck with Derek Trucks, who is…. Susan Tedeschi’s husband. There is no reason why as a Dylan fan you might enjoy this; it is just that when I was learning my way around the piano all those centuries ago Dave Brubeck was one of the influences and it was a pleasant surprise to find this while I was working on my review of this song.
Untold Dylan: who we are what we do
Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan. It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.
We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers. Sadly no one gets paid, but if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics who teach English literature. If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a Word file to Tony@schools.co.uk with a subject line saying that it is for publication on Untold Dylan.
We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with approaching 6000 active members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link
You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site. You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture. Not every index is complete but I do my best.
But what is complete is our index to all the 604 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found, on the A to Z page. I’m proud of that; no one else has found that many songs with that much information. Elsewhere the songs are indexed by theme and by the date of composition. See for example Bob Dylan year by year.
The Chronology Files
These files put Dylan’s work in the order written. You can link to the files here
- Dylan songs of the 1960s
- Dylan songs of the 1970s
- Dylan songs of the 1980s
- Dylan songs of the 1990s
- Dylan songs of the 21st century