“I’ll Keep It with Mine” is one of those innumerable Bob Dylan songs he recorded in the 1960s but didn’t release and someone else did. In this case, it was Judy Collins who released it first. The two other prominent covers of the era are by Nico and Fairport Convention. Dylan’s demos show different approaches to the vocal melody, more idiosyncratic than the famous cover versions. Nico keeps some of Dylan’s vocal idiosyncrasies but otherwise adopts a similar approach to Collins. Fairport Convention’s version, on the other hand, is very faithful to Collins’ version as opposed to Dylan’s demos.
Bassist Meshell Ndegeocello participated in The Philosophy of Modern Song show in New York on July 17th. The show included readings from Dylan’s book of the same name and performances of some of Dylan’s songs. “I’ll Keep It with Mine” was part of the encore.
Much like Dylan himself, Ndegeocello opts for an idiosyncratic vocal. She speaks some of the words and when she sings she sometimes echoes Nico’s phrasing, certainly more than Collins’ or Fairport Convention vocalist Sandy Denny‘s. The pace is slower, too, than the Collins/Fairport versions. But, like those versions, Ndegeocello and the band opt for gently strummed electric guitar as the driving force than Dylan’s original piano. (There is piano here, but it is in a less prominent role than in Dylan’s demos.)
It’s a nice resurrection of a Dylan song that was much better known in 20th century than now. (Nearly half the known covers are from before the dawn of this century, and that’s with the explosion of internet covers since then.) Ndegeocello brings her own vibe to the song, clearly differentiating her version from the famous versions that first made the song a popular cover.