I’ll come right out and say it – I don’t like Bob Dylan very much. Aside from his few, obvious hits, I’m hard pressed to think of another artist as lauded and revered as Dylan who has the same abysmally lopsided track record (“But what about ‘Blowing In The Wind‘?? And ‘All Along The Watchtower‘??” – blah blah blah, Have you actually listened to more than just a “greatest hits” album?) For every genuinely great song Bob’s penned, he’s also responsible for entire albums of cruel and unusual garbage, mumbly wanking, and self-absorbed snooze-fests. Just because a guy writes “Like A Rolling Stone” doesn’t mean he should be able to coast on reputation alone for the rest of a five-plus decade career.
So, after hearing that Dylan planned to record an entire album of just Frank Sinatra covers, I was, let’s say, “cautiously pessimistic.” Someone not known for having the smoothest vocal stylings tackling a track list made famous by one of the most talented crooners of all time is a high wire act, to say the least. Still, if Johnny Cash can take the “unexpected covers” route, and make that work, maybe ol’ Bobby Z can squeak out something interesting? Right?
This morning, National Public Radio gave us our first taste of Dylan-Does-Frank with Bob’s version of “Stay With Me” and…well… it’s certainly different. Lush orchestral swells: Out. Raspy talk-singing: In. But, as NPR’s Bob Boilen rightly points out “Here’s a man clearly in love with the Great American Songbook and despite his restricted vocal he’s brave enough to tackle it” which is, I suppose, a good reason to listen to the track at least once. For me, that was enough.
For reference, here’s Mr. Francis A’s original:
So, what do you think? Good? Bad? Or somewhere uncomfortably in between?