Monday, February 13, 2012

Dylan Cover #36 Jason and the Scorchers "Absolutely Sweet Marie"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Jason and the Scorchers of "Absolutely Sweet Marie"

(RtBE Note sorry for the break in Dylan covers for January, don't fear the series will continue in 2012, also RtBE has purchased this, we think you should too, expect to see many of these appear here over the next year and beyond.) 

Thoughts on Dylan Original:
Color me shocked that we are 36 covers into this series and just now we are getting to someone covering "Absolutely Sweet Marie".  The original was one of the most complete songs Dylan has written even if you are never quite sure what he is addressing.  He likes the song but surprisingly never played it live until 1988, I find that kinda odd.  He dove into this songs' lyrics specifically during a 1991 interview published in Paul Zollo's book Songwriters on Songwriting, Dylan gives an idea of how he sees the song in his explanation of a line about a "yellow railroad":

That's about as complete as you can be. Every single letter in that line. It's all true. On a literal and on an escapist level.... Getting back to the yellow railroad, that could be from looking someplace. Being a performer, you travel the world. You're not just looking out of the same window everyday. You're not just walking down the same old street. So you must make yourself observe whatever. But most of the time it hits you. You don't have to observe. It hits you. Like, "yellow railroad" could have been a blinding day when the sun was so bright on a railroad someplace and it stayed on my mind.... These aren't contrived images. These are images which are just in there and have got to come out.
Tight taught and still somehow allusive, pretty cool and totally Dylan at his finest.


Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I had never heard of Jason and the Scorchers before, but after some research it seems they have a pretty solid what they call a "cowpunk" career for a very long time now, since 1981 in fact.  They have had on again off again reunions and moments in the sun, but they have gained a cult following and that is what counts and they are still at releasing their newest album Halycon Times in 2010.
Thoughts on Cover:
A great song to get back into this series.  Honestly when you jam a Dylan song up faster my ears will perk up as the idea of Dylan's somewhat harsh lyrics and punk rock is a perfect fit for me, but "Absolutely Sweet Marie" was never a track of his I thought of for that treatment.  Granted this isn't out and out punk rock, but the energy and spirit the band infuses into this cover is tight and charming, like the original itself, but completely separated from it.  This is cover that will get multiple listens and one that you should certainly check out.

Grade: A-    

Wilson's Take:

Janasie's Take:
Ladies and gentlemen, SIU's own Jason Ringenberg!  Blonde on Blone is at the very tip top in the Dylan catalogue hierarchy, but it is probably safe to say that "Absolutely Sweet Marie" is not the primary source of that acclaim.  It is, however, a fun and interesting song representative of Dylan at his peak.  Jason & the Scorchers really grabbed hold of the fun in it and (for 3:38, anyway) made it their own.  I don't think I'll run out and buy any cowpunk records, but then again, I don't have to.  Chances are good that Jason and the boys will be back at Hangar 9 any day now.

1 comment:

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