I had the good fortune to see Bob Dylan and “his band” perform at the Orpheum Theatre last Friday night, November 14. As you can imagine, the environment was warm and intimate, the volume and tone masterful, the crowd nostalgic, and Bob, well Bob was and continues to be, “Forever Young.”
The Band played a combination of old favorites like “Tangled up in Blue” and “Simple Twist of Fate” as well as many songs that I did not recognize from his newer albums (the man is still cranking them out). Bob was in classic form, cool and collected and although his vocal cords were showing wear, he still managed to belt out his poetry with the same heartfelt soul that attracted attention in the early 60s.
The magic of the show was not surprising. After all, Bob Dylan is one of the most acclaimed artists of all time and he undoubtedly has access to some of the best supporting musicians and creative staff in the world today. What did surprise me about the performance, however, was how differently he approached some of his old classics.
I have had this conversation many times with my musical friends. Is it more valuable to cover a song detail by detail so that it sounds as close to the original as possible or better to put your own twist on it? I have always been on the side of adding my own spin. After all, I have mostly covered larger band songs with a two part act and substituted the traditional male lead with my female vocals. There is no way I could sound remotely like the original presentations, even if I tried. However, the main reason I strive to “cover” not “copy” a song is that I believe that music is a merging of the art and the artist. I am not Bob Dylan so I will never deliver a song like Bob Dylan. The best renditions, in my opinion, come when the musician is able to connect on a soul level with the essence of the composition. The best songs are those that have such a universal essence that they are easily interpreted in as many varied ways as there are different people interpreting them.
As I sat listening to Bob and His Band play “She Belongs to Me” early in the first set, it took me a minute to recognize the song. The rendition was so completely different than the original version I was use to hearing. Bob was reinventing his own music in a way that was refreshing and new. The crowd loved it, because by changing the tunes and the delivery, Dylan was revealing a new part of himself. A true gift that we all appreciated.
“She Belongs to Me” by Bob Dylan,
Covered by Wendy and Peter
“She Belongs to Me” was one of the first songs Peter and I attempted to play together and one that came out in our own unique way without much effort. Ours is a very different version than those played by Bob Dylan or anyone else for that matter. But, that is exactly how we want it to be. Enjoy listening!