May 262011
 

Dylan Covers A-Z presents covers of every single Bob Dylan song. View the full series here.

An excerpt from Bob Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume One (Simon & Schuster, 2004):

When I finally did arrive in California, my songs and my reputation had preceded me. I had records out on Columbia and I’d be playing at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and meeting all the performers who had recorded my songs-artists like The Byrds, who’d recorded “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Sonny and Cher, who’d done “All I Really Want to Do,” The Turtles, who recorded “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” Glen Campbell, who had released “Don’t Think Twice,” and Johnny Rivers, who had recorded “Positively 4th Street.”

Of all the versions of my recorded songs, the Johnny Rivers one was my favorite. It was obvious that we were from the same side of town, had been read the same citations, came from the same musical family and were cut from the same cloth. When I listened to Johnny’s version of “Positively 4th Street,” I liked his version better than mine. I listened to it over and over again. Most of the cover versions of my songs seemed to take them out into left field somewhere, but Rivers’s version had the mandate down-the attitude and melodic sense to complete and surpass even the feeling that I had put into it. It shouldn’t have surprised me, though. He had done the same thing with “Maybellene” and “Memphis,” two Chuck Berry songs. When I heard Johnny sing my song, it was obvious that life had the same external grip on him as it did on me.

Yes, today’s installment boasts a special distinction: It contain Dylan’s favorite cover of his own work. Rivers’ “Positively 4th Street” is indeed spellbinding. We’d venture that if Bob heard some of these other covers, though, he might have to reconsider. The Ghosts of Electricity’s 11-minute “Standing in a Doorway” takes a live jam to the stratosphere. Guy Davis’ “Sweetheart Like You” is so beautiful it redeems all of Dylan’s output in the ’80s (well, almost). If nothing else, John Doe (of X)’s soaring “Pressing On” from the I’m Not There film would surely be a contender.

We’ve also got a few of those “left field” covers he apparently disdains. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Subterranean Homesick Blues” roars even harder than he ever intended. World Wide Message Tribe’s “Precious Angel” takes the holy message to the club floor. Cheap Trick’s 10-minutes “Please Mrs. Henry” doesn’t sound much like it did with the Band in that Woodstock basement. Check out these and dozens more on the next few pages and see if you agree with Dylan that Rivers tops the lot.

P.S. After you’ve reached your verdict, you might also compare it to the 170 covers we’ve presented in previous installments, linked here:
Part 1: “Absolutely Sweet Marie” – “Everything Is Broken”
Part 2: “Father of Night” – “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
Part 3: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” – “Oxford Town”
Part 4: “Peggy Day” – “Sweetheart Like You”
Part 5: “T.V Talkin’ Song” – “4th Time Around” [Coming Friday]

Continued on Page 2…

Hearts

 Posted by at 3:18 am  No Responses »
May 272009
 

Sorry I have been M.I.A. for the past few weeks. I have actually been in the hospital, since apparently 22 is the new 78. Lots of backlogged posting to get caught up on, so keep an eye here over the next week for some stuff, including the long-awaited debut of derpferdheisshorst’s “Ziggy Stardust” cover.

In honor of my days as the youngest person in the cardiac ward, this week’s theme is hearts. The medical accuracy of some of these songs may be suspect, but the sentiment rarely is.

Amilia K. Spicer – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young)
Hey Neil, fun medical fact: plenty of things besides love can break your heart. Myocarditis, for instance. A quick wikipedia search leads me to recomment the following title change: “Only Coronary Heart Disease, Cardiomyopathy, Cardiovascular Disease, Ischaemic Heart Disease, Heart Failure, and Hypertensive, Inflammatory, and Valvular Heart Diseases Can Break Your Heart.” Someone tell Ms. Spicer. [Buy]

The Fray – Heartless (Kanye West)
I’m one of the few defenders Kanye’s recent album has. Sure, the autotune gets annoying eventually, but tracks like this and “Love Lockdown” are classic pop singles. Check out his recent video with Rihanna for more gayfish action. [Buy]

Jesse Malin – Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen)
Like many of Bruce’s hits, the deceptive pop hooks of this one covered up the darker lyrics (another example: “Dancing In the Dark”). Fellow Jersey boy Malin’s slower fuzz-acoustic takes no such pains to disguise the sadness. [Buy]

Don Henley – Searching For a Heart (Warren Zevon)
I realize most of you don’t want to hear about my medical history, but given that the theme of this post is entirely self-indulgent to begin with, allow me to point out that at one point that least week the doctors were literally searching for a heart to replace my own. Luckily it didn’t come to that, but that changes the whole song’s meaning for me. [Buy]

Tom Waits – Young at Heart (Frank Sinatra)
With music by Johnny Richards and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, this pop standard is most often associate with Ol’ Blue Eyes. Tom’s deadbeat dog take blends country with gutter, an interesting interpretation from a guy’s who’s always professed to be old at heart. [Buy]

Guy Davis – Sweetheart Like You (Bob Dylan)
A Nod to Bob has to be one of my favorite cover compilations ever, not least because of this accordion-led blues gem of one of Dylan’s lesser-known pieces of misogyny. [Buy]

Novemthree – Un-Break My Heart (Toni Braxton)
The ‘80s always gets flak for being a terrible decade for popular music, but those songs were at least fun! In my book the ‘90s beats it for general awfulness (in other news, Third Eye Blind has a new album). Whether you agree or not, indulge in a little nostalgia with the free Roaring Nineties covers compilation over at CCLCT. [Buy]

We Versus the Shark – Dummy Discards a Heart (Deerhoof)
Spastic and punky, the flailing horns propel this blaring quickie through the root. Murmurmur has loads of rocking covers from these guys, including looks at Radiohead and Ben Folds Five. [Buy]

Lydia Lunch and Nels Cline – Heartattack and Vine (Tom Waits)
Slow grunge-blues backed by pounding drums and pre-Wilco Cline letting loose squalls of guitar shriek whenever he gets the opportunity. [Buy]

Blues Magoos – Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley)
Barelling barroom piano slams throughout this wail of a tune, wringing more emotion out of these simple lyrics than even the King himself. [Buy]