They tell me everything is gonna be all right...
Six years ago, I wrote a post here on the blog about how (in my opinion) Bob Dylan might end up going down as one of the best songwriters for female performers. In that post, I linked to an Adele cover of a song called "Make you feel my love", which if you've been paying attention is a song written by Bob Dylan and released on his record 'Time out of Mind'. There are other women covering Bob's songs that are (arguably??) better than the originals by Bob. Take a listen to Cat Power's "I believe in You" or Sophie Zelmani's "Most of the time". Or Norah Jone's take on "I'll be your baby tonight". There's Sheryl Crow who covers "Mississippi" - and I use 'cover' loosely because her version came out BEFORE Bob's did. In fact, he wrote it for her! Then there's maybe the best performance at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary concert (let's leave the 'My Back Pages' mega-performance in a separate category for now) featuring three women: Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Rosanne Cash and Shawn Colvin covering "You Ain't Goin Nowhere".
I'm going to ignore all the Nina Simone stuff. Nat loves her, but for some reason, I don't.
But the reason for going through this list of covers brings me to the video I posted above. That's Lucinda Williams covering the song "Trying to get to Heaven". And in the past few weeks, I've been listening to Bob's 'Time out of Mind' record on my phone during my commutes when Howard Stern isn't live (Thurs/Fri's or when he's in Best-of). And that song in particular has been played over and over. There's a line in there that is the title of this blog post that really strikes me. And almost stops me in my tracks when I'm walking to the train. The second part is the power part:
They tell me everything is gonna be all right
But I don’t know what “all right” even means
There's a lot of talk about Bob Dylan's lyrics and you can go into any of his songs and probably find *something* that is interesting/compelling. For me, the late period of songs - starting with Time of of Mind in 1997 and running thru Tempest in 2012 - there's some serious gold.
Lucinda does a really fine job covering the song and most folks will like her vocal a lot better than Bob's voice. And I think we can all agree that she gives the song a new life and makes it her own. That voice is pretty great. Add this to the pile of female-lead covers that are better than the original? I think so.
|Photo from Kansas City Star|