“License to Kill” is one of the most well-known tracks from Bob Dylan‘s notorious reggae-influenced album Infidels. At the time, Infidels was viewed by some as a bit of a return to form, as he stopped singing explicitly Christian songs for the first time in half a decade. Working with Sly & Robbie, Dylan delivered his new songs in a style he’d never attempted before.
Though “License to Kill” was not released as a single, it has become one of Dylan’s most covered songs from an era that is not fondly remembered. Perhaps this is due in part to high profile covers over the years, by the likes of Tom Petty at the 30th Anniversary Concert, Cowboy Junkies, Richie Havens, and Elvis Costello.
The latest comes from Brian Fallon, lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem. He’s recorded his version of “License to Kill” for the third edition of the covers collection Don’t Stop Now. Fallon strips away most of the original instrumentation, replacing it with keyboard, voices, looped percussion and sound effects. And he slows the song down considerably, giving the song an incredibly somber feel – appropriate to lyrics bemoaning the dangers of technology. Fallon’s delivery is soft and mournful and feels like the performance these lyrics were written for.