Friday, April 10, 2009

I Want You

Bob Dylan's "I Want You" is one of my favorite songs, only not when Dylan sings it. Don't get me wrong -- I think Dylan is a fine performer, and Blonde on Blonde is one of my favorite albums. It's just that Dylan's version of "I Want You" is a bit too folky or melancholy or flat or boring. In the context of Blonde on Blonde, it's perfectly decent.

At least two other singers have done better renditions.

In the original broadcast of Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Special, someone named Sophie B. Hawkins did an excellent cover of "I Want You" that came closer to fulfilling the divine nature of what the song could have been had not Bob Dylan flattened the song. For some reason likely related to a financial dispute, Hawkins' version isn't on the video or the album. Hey, here it is:

While reading a book about Bruce Springsteen called Born to Run, I read that Bruce did a version of this song as well. Twitterpated, I had to skip my fatherly duties and go find it. This is especially bad because today is Wendy's birthday, and I'm ignoring everyone to hunt down Mr. Springsteen's version. Here's Bruce Springsteen's version, which contains the appropriate degree of longing:


  1. All hacks. I could sing it better.

    Apoplectic Bob?

    OK, enough flame bait.

    I have not listened to enough Dylan or Springsteen to get past their distracting vocal styles. I'm sure with more listening I would acclimatize and better appreciate the music - I've had this experience with other artists (i.e. David Burn).

    But as a newbie, Dylan's version didn't do too much for me. The tempo is too fast and he seems to sing too mechanically - marching through the words.

    Sophie poured a lot of emotion into her performance, and I appreciate that, but she overcooked it - drawing attention away from the song.

    Springsteen is emotive and effective, but his vocal style gets in the way at times. And the ending is quirky and kinda weak. Still I agree it's the best of the 3.

    Maybe Johnny Cash should give it a go? Or Bono.

    There is a Dylan song I like - "Mississippi", a song that was unreleased until recently. It was a freebie on Amazon a while back.

  2. You're right that Sophie's performance may be a bit overcooked. I'll consider that in my rankings.

    Dylan's "Time Out of Mind" is one of my favorite Dylan albums, which is odd because I don't stray much from his 65-67 albums.

  3. The Beatles win in this category, hands down: