Monday, July 16, 2018

Dylan Cover #333 Old Crow Medicine Show "Visions of Johanna" Live

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's artists, Old Crow Medicine Show doing a live cover of "Visions of Johanna" 
Certain months RtBE has a special focus during our Dylan Covers series. Sometimes it is harder, sometimes it is softer. Sometimes it is jazzy and then each April we get ready for the upcoming Jazzfest, which isn't always jazzy
This month it's the Old Crow Medicine Show's live celebration, 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde.

Thoughts on Original:
One of the clear high points in Dylan's poetic songwriting, "Visions of Johanna" is a complete stunner, especially the first time you encounter it. Now (on a personal note) f that first encounter just happens to be a hot sweaty night in the urban village which Dylan roamed about 30 years before you were doing the same god damn thing, then so be it. Even if your personal take is different it is hard to wrap your brain around the lyrics and the more you listen the more the mystery deepens. It is elusive, bright, cunning, dismissive, ionic and tossed off all at once. It is mega and it is nothing...and I can't be more vague than that. Musically he couldn't get it right until he went down to Nashville and it says something that he stuck with this song (unlike say..."She Belongs To Me") and got a version that is magical musically as well, just listen to that bass line throughout from Joe South...a crowning success all around.
The closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my mind was on individual bands in the Blonde on Blonde album. It's that thin, that wild mercury sound. It's metallic and bright gold, with whatever that conjures up.

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
We have actually tackled Old Crow Medicine Show before in this Monday Dylan Cover series. Here is what we had to say about them then and it still stands:
Old Crow Medicine Show have always been a fun folkise root rock ride when we have heard them, but also that hasn't been too often.

Regarding this album:
50 Years of Blonde on Blonde was recorded live at the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame, in Nashville, Tennessee, in May 2016. The concert coincided with a Hall of Fame exhibit exploring Dylan's time in Nashville.In an interview, band members Ketch Secor and Critter Fuqua described how they had bonded over Dylan's songs as teenagers, and that the 50 Years... project was a natural extension of that collaboration. While the new recording follows the sequence of Dylan's original track-for-track, Old Crow took considerable liberties with the arrangement of individual tracks. The recording was released as an album on April 28, 2017. It was the band's first release on their new label, Columbia Records, which had released Dylan's original album in 1966.

Thoughts on Cover:
While we really enjoyed last weeks more emotional infused take on "4th Time Around" this version just doesn't work to these ears. The playing is a bit fast, the singing is flippant, the hoe down sound which the band are so proficient at seems to undercut all of the mystery and power of the original. One of the reasons we love doing this series each week is that each take is different and exciting even when they don't really this weeks.

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