Monday, February 20, 2012

Dylan Cover #37 Norah Jones "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Norah Jones of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight"

Thoughts on Dylan Original:
A simple little number coming off of John Wesley Harding it discards the lyrical wizardry for a down home spin.  We are rewarded with easy bliss., not often found in Dylan tunes.  The emotions displayed by the singer here are heartfelt, hearty and easy going, just like the tune as a whole.  Always a pleasant ride.  

Cover:


Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Back in 2002 when Come Away With Me was sweeping through peoples brains and picking up Grammy's along the way, I heard Norah Jones described as "Sunday Morning Music".  I took that to mean not church music (big difference), not Football music (even bigger) but "relaxing, reading the paper while the sun is shining in the kitchen with some tunes on in the background music".  Yeah, that about sums it up.
  
Thoughts on Cover:
For a vocal Jazz singer, Norah's biggest key may be showing restraint.  This tune doesn't need much and she doesn't force anything.  Repeating the chorus at the end isn't overload by any stretch and lets the song breath a bit.  The sparse, piano and guitar lines float in and out effortlessly and are nice touches, all in all a solid song because not too much was asked from this performance, not too much given, and the result is pleasing.

Grade: B   

Wilsons Take:
If Norah Jones didn't look like Norah Jones; and if she weren't younger than the Dylan song she's covering, it's tough to imagine her inhabiting the mega-career she now enjoys. She's a beneficiary of the Michael Buble-effect: where the young sing the old...and the old wax nostalgic about how "timeless all the best things in life are." Her soothing, melodic numbers seem tailored-made for a Nora Ephron film, probably staring Diane Keaton, and probably involving a late-life romance set to fine wine, country homes, a raffish younger man, and a supporting cast of boring-straight-laced adult children. Those increasingly-ubiquitous films in which, even in retirement, Boomers must hold center stage as the most interesting people alive...hence why all their films have their children written as vanilla, stogy lemmings. Fifty years ago it was their parents who didn't "get" it; now it's their kids. So what does any of this have to do with Norah Jones? The daughter of Ravi Shankar, this soothing and promising singer, rode that demographic to sell 20 million copies of her debut album Come Away With Me. Bravo, Ms. Jones, Bravo.
 
20 million copies.
 
In the 21st century, at the height of P2P file sharing, those are bonkers numbers. And you don't outsell Hootie and the Blowfish's Cracked Rear View without becoming the white noise that Boomers play at dinner parties. Tackling Bob Dylan would seem a natural fit, and when her cover of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" began it offered a glimpse of original hope...it begins with a low, smokey rhythm, which "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" has always needed. But with an uninspired arrangement it quickly becomes the plane rolling down the runway that never gets off the ground. Still, because it's Norah Jones, it's agreeable. Oh so agreeable. Perfect...White...Noise. The thing is, I keep waiting for Norah Jones - this immensely talented vocalist - to sing like she needs to. Like she isn't the unbearably-cute daughter of a famous icon; like she didn't sell 20 million albums her first time out. I keep wanting her to sing as if we're listening.
 
Janasie's Take:
"I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" is one of my favorite tracks on John Wesley Harding.  I always liked the laid back feel of the tune.  Dylan sounds like a bit of a drunken lounge singer on it and Dylan makes a good, drunken lounge singer. 
I am a casual fan of Norah Jones.  I'm not a big fan of this cover, though.  It seems a little, I don't know, dull.  The cover is lacking some of the whimsy present in the Dylan version.  That shufflin' rhythm that is the foundation of the original was lost somewhere in translation, too.

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