Monday, July 29, 2019

Dylan Cover #386 The Grateful Dead "Visions of Johanna" Live

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's artists, The Grateful Dead performing a live cover of "Visions of Johanna" 

Thoughts on Original:
From the first time we tackled a cover of this tune:
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) if that first encounter just happens to be a hot sweaty night, in the heart of the urban village which Dylan roamed about 30 years before and you happened to be 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, iconic, ironic 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:
RtBE loves the Grateful Dead. We have voted for them as the Best American Band in our favorite bar stool conversation and are showcasing them this month in our Master's Series.

Thoughts on Cover:
We went through four Dead Dylan covers this month and have yet to have one where Jerry Garcia sings lead. That ends today. While the recording is a bit hot, Jerry sings strongly especially consider he would be dead in just about five months. 95 wasn't the best Dead year by a long shot, but some of Jerry's vocals seemed to have been more passionate, and for the most part that is the case here with just a few small vocal flubs which are forgivable. "Visions of Johanna" live from Chicago March 18th, 1995 is a great way to end our Dylan Cover focus with the Dead this month. 

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