According to Bob Dylan, a singer has to have lived a little to get to the song’s meaning. “You sing that and you have to know something about love and loss and feel it just as much,” Dylan told AARP magazine, “or there’s no point in doing it. It’s too deep a song. A schoolboy could never do it convincingly.”
– The Financial Times ‘Autumn Leaves – the song about death that lives on‘
Last time we explored Eva Cassidy’s Autumn Leaves, today it is Bob’s turn. Bob Dylan’s version of Autumn Leaves was released on his 2015 Shadows in the Night. I’ve written about Shadows before. I consider it a modern masterpiece from Bob – certainly a top tier album from him. The Irish Times hit the nail on the head in their review:
Those who complain that Dylan can’t sing are treated to a masterclass in timing, phrasing, nuance and interpretation. Even the cracks in his voice leave a poignant trail.
– Irish Times
Bob unearthed 10 traditional crooner standards made popular by Frank Sinatra in Shadows in the Night. Bob said this in a press statement at the time of its release:
’I don’t see myself as covering these songs in any way. They’ve been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day‘.
His rendition of Autumn Leaves is wonderful and it demonstrates this exercise of his vocal technique whereby it’s an intimate, almost whispering in your ear delivery, where every intake and outtake of breath makes us think he is singing to us individually. Once again the original studio recording doesn’t exist on you tube due to copyright restrictions, so I searched for a decent live recording. The live recording below features video (as well) from his October 3rd 2015 concert in Konserthuset. Unfortunately it doesn’t include the lovely introduction, but I think he does a very fine job with it.