Songs of Bob Dylan
WOMANLY HIP RECORDS
People have often voiced an opinion around the likes of Dylan and Leonard Cohen – Lou Reed and Neil Young too, perhaps – that they like the songs, just not when the writer in question is singing them. But that would surely miss the point. Yes, Dylan songs (can) cover well – there are thousands of them. And the right sort of song interpreter – Nina Simone, for instance – could have a way with it that would run close to beating the original, or might even become a definitive version. There are a small handful of Dylan songs where his recorded ‘original’ is merely an afterthought.
Enter Joan Osborne. The latest – she won’t be the last – to tackle Bob for a full-album project.
Osborne, by contrast, seems to be merely asking What if Bob was one of us?
And we know that answer.
So we get polite versions of songs like Buckets of Rain and – quite (unintentionally) comically – Masters of War.
We get Sunday Drive-styled renditions of songs that need Dylan’s voice – like the opening Tangled Up In Blue. And a sultry, bluesy vamp of Rainy Day Women seems to want to transcend the silliness, which, again, would miss the point.
There’s almost something in the version of Highway 61 Revisited, an intelligent recast. But that’s one of the songs from Bob you never want reworked. Unless it’s Johnny Winter whipping it harder.
From God-botherer, to Bob-botherer. Osborne will only ever remain a one-hit-wonder after this. No matter how well-intentioned this is, moreover it’s precisely because of that.
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