May 19th, 2011



Yesterday evening’s contribution to Dylan at 70 was an hour devoted to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, every song covered by a British folk singer, the whole held together by Mark Radcliffe. As usual with the BBC website, it’s just taken me ages to find the information I wanted here. Hurrah, I was asked to fill in a questionnaire and was able to tell them that their search function is c**p and in what way. ‘Entirely new’ versions of these songs by British folk singers sounded ominous. Obviously I liked some more than others but what they all did was to remind you that Dylan’s early folky songs sound as if they really were folk songs which had been around for ever. Here’s the list:

Blowin' in the Wind by Seth Lakeman; Girl from the North Country by Thea Gilmore; Masters of War by Martin Simpson; Down the Highway by While and Matthews; Bob Dylan's Blues by Ewan McLennan; A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall by Karine Polwart; Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Ralph McTell; Bob Dylan's Dream by Martin Carthy; Oxford Town by Coope, Boyes and Simpson; Talkin' World War III Blues by Billy Bragg; Corrina, Corrina by Cara Dillon with The Scoville Units; Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance by Rory Mcleod; and I Shall Be Free by Rab Noakes with Fraser Speirs.

Thea Gilmore’s Girl From The North Country was beautiful. Ralph McTell sang my favourite Don’t Think Twice; I prefer Johnny Cash singing it. Billy Bragg doing Talkin’ Third World War Blues? Sorry Billy, it sounded like Dry Your Eyes Mate. It’s amazing how young Dylan was when he wrote these songs. Reminds me of the oft-told story about when he arrived in New York and people would go to the SoHo clubs to hear the skinny little kid. One evening he sang Masters Of War and they all came out looking shell shocked. How did he do it? How did Keats? Yes, I am firmly in the Keats *and* Dylan camp.

Plenty more programmes to come!

Dylan at Foyles. Photo by huskyteer