My friend Lesley hates anyone covering Bob Dylan. For her no one can do it like Bob and The White House should stop anyone from trying; freedom should allow you to carry guns but not sing Blowing In The Wind in public (well actually Lesley would be against the guns too!). I agree with Lesley about no guns but have always loved Bob Dylan covers. His songs have so many twists and turns and nuances and shades and moods that different artists have always drawn out new things as they make Dylan their own. I mean life without Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower? Or Nick Cave’s Death Is Not The End? Sinead O’Connor’s I Believe In You? Bryan Ferry’s A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall? Just recently I watched a live recording of Liam O Maonlai and Glen Hansard performing Pressing On and it blew my little mind and soul!
Not that everything song is well covered. A whole album of Dylan by Barbara Dickson didn’t really light my fire. Bryan Ferry’s effort was not just as good as the Dylan one of two songs he had already done on other records. Lesley has much fuel for her argument. When it comes to Barb Jungr’s second collection of Dylan I am not sure how Lesley would take it but I am loving. Even the one or two where the jury is still out have challenged me to reassess those Dylan songs. Jungr released Every Grain of Sand a number of years ago and has been doing the odd Dylan song per album since. This is a collection of those and four brand new performances.
Jungr is Scottish and a cello player who brings all kinds of eclectic templates to Dylan songs. Jungr slows up Like A Rolling Stone which makes the sense of isolation of “how does it feel” even more painful; the piano swathes like waves on the beach where Sara is set is simply gorgeous; God On Our Side with the stripped of anything prophetic voice at beginning and end is compelling; the big bass and finger clicking of Trouble In Mind is spiritually riveting; a little swing in the mini epic of musical styles on Blind Willie McTell reveals and achieves Jungr’s ambition.
Every song has its place though her energetic The Times They Are A-Changing and the brightness of Just like A Woman might have my friend Lesley for cover (bad pun!). On the album notes of Every Grain of Sand Jungr spoke of a spiritual moment in the mountains of The Isle of Sky and being so moved that she started singing the great Dylan hymn Every Grain Of Sand and later of a voice that spoke to her like some hear God saying “Record Bob Dylan.” I am not sure the depth or hue of that spirituality but spiritual is what Jungr brings to Dylan. The idea of her being banned from making an album as qualitative as this should always banned.