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“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”

Posted by purplemary54 on February 7, 2012

Once again, I’m choosing a less famous version of a pretty famous song.  Iconic, even.  Just about everything by Bob Dylan is sort of iconic, mainly because the man is an icon (something I’m sure he would sneer at).  Dylan, however, is also one of the best artists to cover.  His songs are very good and very rich.  Anyone can mine a Dylan song and find some previously undiscovered gem.

The Shawn Colvin version of “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” is, like all truly good covers, different in a way that doesn’t make the song sound unfamiliar but in a way that makes it new.  Dylan’s is wry and resigned, a joke that the singer doesn’t find amusing but can’t help laughing at anyway.  Colvin’s is. . .joyful, almost.  The general premise & impression is the same: the singer is caught up in a relationship that she knows is doomed to end, and she knows her heart will be broken.  The difference here is that she doesn’t care.  She knows her lover will leave, but she fully intends to enjoy him while he’s there.  She takes joy in the knowledge that right at this moment, she’s having a great time.  At the end of the song–”you’re gonna have to leave me now, I know”–she breaks down just a little; you can hear the sadness in her whisper.  But that’s the only moment of it.  The joy is recovered in the next lines: “But I’ll see you in the sky above, the tall grass, and the ones I love.”  This will be a wonderful memory, cherished.

That’s what makes a cover great.  Not how different it sounds from the original.  Or how much it copies the original.  It’s all in how the artist owns it.  When a cover is truly a good song in it’s own right, it is because it isn’t really a cover.  It’s a whole new song that evokes a whole new set of feelings in the listener.

(Sorry about the short analysis.  Still getting used to having something ready to go every day.)

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