Monday, November 12, 2012

Dylan Cover #61 K'naan "With God On Our Side"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by K'naan playing "With God On Our Side"
Thoughts on Original
Perhaps the most poignant and lasting song Dylan has written and that speaks volumes. Lyrically it is perfect, using history, the warping of religion and politics to get across the point that man will rationalize anything, even war. Only played live 30 times since it's debut at Dylan's historic Town Hall show the song has added weight and meaning when it is played.  Morality and War, Religion and Righteousness, all just words when it comes down to it hold life inside those letters. Musically stark Dylan uses his impressive lyrics to express the confusion perfectly, should be mandatory listing in every history classroom.   

Thoughts on Cover Artist
I had not heard of K'naan until I was walking into The Global Citizens Festival in Central Park and his music could be heard in the distance.  We actually missed seeing the Somali Canadian Poet/Hip hop artist that day but just being on that bill speaks wonders regarding his stature as does his cover of this tune for Amnesty International

Thoughts on Cover
This week the term "cover" is a misnomer, this is a whole new song that just barely uses "With God On Our Side" for inspiration and a few choruses.  In all honesty it probably isn't fair to compare it to the original because the lyrics and presentation are totally different.  When it comes to reinventions like this though I am always interested and usually give more credit then most.  To me straight covering a song speaks to the artists tastes, but not necessarily to their talent.  I usually love when artists own a cover song and change it up...not this time.  K'naan certainly makes it his own, putting all of his own lyrics into the verses before doing an interpretation of the chorus twice (switching that up too).  He drops the seriousness from the song and the weight it carries vanishes with his phrasing about missed kisses and popcorn, while I appreciate the effort I hate the result.
Grade: Incomplete (this is a different song)

Below is the original for comparison as it is Veterans Day (Observed) and I want the message to get through for those who haven't heard the original:

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