Monday, August 8, 2011

Dylan Cover #22 - Beck - "Country Pie"

The month of August always brings to mind Saratoga, last year RtBE focused on Dead shows from Saratoga, this year we are going to focus on covers of songs from the first Bob Dylan show Wilson and I saw together which happened to be at SPAC.  It was a gorgeous summer night on July 23rd 2000 when the show took place, each Monday we will pick a cover of a song played on this night...this is the first one....

 In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Beck of "Country Pie"

Thoughts on Dylan Original:
Recorded for Nashville Skyline "Country Pie" is a tasty little treat that doesn't leave you too fat after consuming it.  The free-wheeling sense that accompanies it is simply charming, almost a kid song that I could see parents singing to children it has a whimsical air that elevates it up above simple throw away tune.  It was certainly a surprise to hear it live, the 2000 tour was the only time he broke it out in his career. doesn't even have it listed as being played, but I am sure that it was as there was a hoot and a holler to accompany it via Dylan's fantastic band at the time.  Praise should be given to Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell who spun southern goodness with this song on this night creating one of the highlights from the set.  It is no exaggeration that this lineup backing Dylan was the best he has had since The Band themselves, this group would go on to release the masterful Love & Theft in 2001 and Dylan may have never sounded better then on that disk.  They were cooking this night in SPAC also...        
Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Beck is one intriguing artist...  I was a huge fan of his early work, in fact when I was describing Beck to my girlfriend years ago before he blew up I said "He is like Bob Dylan, if Dylan was born today and huffed a shit load of glue."  The was before he was multi-platinum constantly in demand artist.  My favorite disk is probably one people hate the most, Stereopathetic Soulmanure.  We just listened to it this weekend up at Shadow Bay and I was amazed at how well it still flows through my mind...more sonic structures then songs per-say, but One Foot In The Grave is dope as is Mellow Gold.  I started losing touch for him when he started really becoming popular, all though Midnight Vultures is a hell of a disk.  I am not sure what it is...maybe I changed, maybe he did, maybe I just always expected more from him, but I have since kind of fluttered away from his collection, who knows maybe this will bring me back...
Thoughts on Cover:
This cover version doesn't really have much known about it.  The Unheard Music, did a pretty comprehensive blog post about the tape where this cover comes from so read it here as I won't rehash it.  You can also download the tape from that page as well.  I like the cover, it remains playful, fast, and a good way to pass two minutes of your time.  The song doesn't lend itself to major rearrangement (like other Dylan tunes) but the simple ease and late night feel works totally fine here.

Grade: B+

Wilson's Take:
Way back when MTV actually played music, when radios required transistors and respectable speakers were the size of beer kegs; when depression was fashionable and the Oval Office doubled as a Clintonian sex den, Beck was something of a marvel. He did his own thing. He made the weird accessible and the accessible weirder.

I like Beck's cover of Dylan's "Country Pie". Upon what other vinyl ground should an artist like Beck take a turn? To do anything rich and original with a track off Blood on the Tracks or Highway 61 would require two turntables and a heavy dose of reverb. But in the simplicity of digging into Dylan's Nashville Skyline - originally recorded in that crooning, affected voice - Beck delivers a cover that straightens out the original. He plays "Country Pie" with the same half-smirk that led Dylan to record all of Nashville Skyline...a unique album that when the laughter died down, was terrific. This was the album in which Dylan recorded "I Threw It All Away" and "Tonight, I'll Be Staying Here With You" in the voice of a poolhall pervert. Beck, master of the weird, cued up a helluva cover on "Country Pie".

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