Monday, September 12, 2011

Dylan Cover #25 Carmel Conway - "Make You Feel My Love"

 In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Carmel Conway of "Make You Feel My Love"

Thoughts on Dylan Original:
There is something about this tune that always felt off to me, it doesn't strike me as a Dylan song (which makes it an excellent candidate for covers).  Perhaps it is just too Broadway or schmaltzy but the tune never really felt like his to me.  Simple and direct in it's lyrics and sparse with a piano for the tune, it should be a simple pleasure, but it always felt forced to me coming out of the bard's mouth.  The fact that he has never played it live perhaps gives some indication to his feelings on the song as well.  Or maybe he just hasn't found a way to re-work it yet.... 
Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I had never heard of Carmel Conway, all I know is that she has a great name and sounds Irish.  After doing a bit of research she has toured the US and then toured Ireland with the Chieftains, pretty cool.  Her only Album This Beautiful Day is streaming on her website here and this cover is track 5 on that disk.  Her stuff sounds good, she has a light voice and plays up the singer/songwriter drama nicely.    

Thoughts on Cover:
As I mentioned this tune is ripe for covering, and Carmel does an adequate job of it.  The song itself fits her style perfectly, so very little reinterpretation is needed, this is straight ahead pop vocals and a pleasant little stroll through a piano setting.  Nothing here is mind blowing, but it certainly sounds more natural for Carmel to sing this one then it does to hear Dylan give it a whirl, and while that might seem odd in theory it is perfectly natural in practice.  Wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if this cover was used as a wedding song for many couples. 

Grade: Solid C

Wilson's Take:
"To Make You Feel My Love" has had its share of visitors. Billy Joel offered a barroom version of the song on 1997's Greatest Hits Vol III that seemed greased with several shots of Jameson. That version may have missed the romantic mark, but Billy drove the song up the Long Island Expressway and put his stamp on it. Garth Brooks picked up the tune and brought it to Nashville. His take sounded so commercially-country, that half the nation could be forgiven for thinking it was a country original. But like the best Dylan songs, "To Make You Feel My Love" can walk into any room and seem a natural part of the place, as if it's been there since creation.

Carmel Conway offers perhaps the most unique version of "To Make You Feel My Love", if not the least contemporary. Her version seems heavily influenced by Karen Carpenter and one can bet that Dylan wouldn't mind catching a performance at a roadside Jazz bar between shows. If you're into the Irish songstress, then this agreeable tune is the perfect accompaniment to making dinner or reading the Arts Section of the Times after Yoga Class. But for the real yearning, desperate promise that is "To Make You Feel My Love", stick to the original.

We have a new special guest giving some thoughts today, please welcome Steve Janasie, with his take:
Time Out of Mind is an album that will always hold a special place in my heart; it came out when my Dylan fandom was at its peak and it marked one of his many returns to full power.  "Make You Feel My Love" is by no means the best song on that album and it was first introduced to the world through Billy Joel, something I have always subconsciously held against it.  Nonetheless, it is a beautifully written tune that manages to feel familiar without being cliche.

The Carmel Conway version is fine.  I like the sparse arrangement quite a bit.  Ms. Conway's voice is lovely, though I don't know that she has put it to best use here.  As with many Dylan numbers, world-weary vocals are most effective on a song like this, one that is so full of sadness and desperation.  In this respect, Carmel Conway is a little too polished.  I'd stick to the original.
Be sure to check out Steve's blog here!

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