Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A birthday Nod to Bob

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand

We never really HEARD these words until Lucy Kaplansky sang them.  That's the way it can go with the great works of the poet Bob Dylan. Interpretations of his music are often refreshing and occasionally illuminating. Not to suggest that anybody tops Dylan while performing his words and music, but there have been some truly outstanding covers that leave their own lasting imprints.

Two obvious ones are "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds and "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix -- which Dylan has said he was overwhelmed by. It's a good time to mention that previously here at the Sanctuary we touted Jimmy LaFave's brilliant live version of "You're a Big Girl Now."

And now today, on the occasion of Dylan's 70th birthday, we are delighted to have another album of Dylan songs performed by other artists as tributes to the man and his musical genious.  Red House Records has released A Nod to Bob 2, which includes Kaplansky's tender turn on "Every Grain of Sand," and LaFave -- perhaps the finest interpreter of Dylan's music -- doing a cool number on "Not Dark Yet." The truest reading among the 16 offerings is delivered by the Pines on "What Good Am I," which will make you think Dylan is chiming in when it's really the obedient voice of Benson Ramsey.

Here's the complete lineup:

1. What Good Am I, the Pines
2. Just Like a Woman, John Gorka
3. Mama, Let Me Lay It On You, Hot Tuna
4. Every Grain of Sand, Lucy Kaplansky
5. Lay Down Your Weary Tune, Storyhill
6. Ther Days of Forty-Nine, Spider John Koerner
7. Dirt Road Blues, Pieta Brown
8. Buckets of Rain, Danny Schmidt
9. House of the Rising Sun, Guy Davis
10. Jokerman, Eliza Gilkyson
11. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues, Cliff Eberhardt
12. It Takes a Lot of Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry, Ray Bonneville
13. Born in Time, Meg Hutchinson
14. Not Dark Yet, Jimmy LaFave
15. Mozambique, Peter Ostroushko
16. Walkin' Down the Line, Robin & Linda Williams

A Nod to Bob, Red House's original birthday tribute to Dylan, became one of our favorite albums of 2001. After just a few listens the new installment appears to be on a similar track.

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