Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Down the street the dogs are barking (Blind Boy Grunt)

I've always been interested in the way Dylan's songs have morphed over the years, depending on his band, his voice, his circumstances, the way the world changes, whatever.

Dylan's song One Too Many Mornings was first released on his The Times They Are A-Changin' album. It that context it was a strange, wistful reflection about two people who have, seemingly, drifted apart over one too many mornings.

The first focus in the song is on the sounds of the dogs barking as night approaches. Dylan is standing at his doorway. He's either leaving or considering leaving. Why else would he call it a crossroads?

He turns from the doorway and looks into the empty room (the woman's presence in the room is described in the past tense), his gaze returns to the street and those lonesome dog sounds.

It seems Dylan's unease at the situation with his lover is reciprocated - she is also at a crossroads and has maybe already vamoosed - We're both just too many mornings, an' a thousand miles behind.

I've included a couple of versions here - the David Gray one sticks pretty closely to the Dylan template and is more melancholy in its approach. The Dylan and Johnny Cash countrified one is plain weird in a good way.

The version I love the most though, and unfortunately it is not available on youtube, is the one on Hard Rain from the Rolling Thunder Revue tour.

Dylan's visceral live version is stripped of any wistful, lingering heartfelt feelings and becomes a dark brooding cathartic outpouring of emotion following the departure of Sara. It's wonderful.

The dogs in this version are apocalyptic, snarling, feral monsters that threaten the night. I love it!

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