This is one of the very few cover versions of a Bob Dylan song which I think superseded the original and I don’t say that lightly. Lou Reed sung this at Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary concert in 1993 and I love it. I listen to it frequently unlike the unreleased Dylan version which was an out-take from the ’83 Infidels session and released on the first Bootleg record.
Lou seems to get under this song with a blues riff and a rugged vocal delivery which converts the song into some other beast. The only criticism I have with it, is its hefty duration. Dylan said, that his best songs were always written and dusted off in no time, like Blowing in the Wind, and the longer, wordier tracks he felt weren’t right.
The conversation Dylan and Cohen had about this is in a Parisian cafe is priceless. Like today’s song you could say Caribbean Wind is long-winded and the studio out-takes from Shot of Love were reviewed here already.
Lou Reed said about this song:
“That’s the song I picked to do at Bobfest (in New York in 1992). I’d been listening to it almost every day for two months. It’s so fucking funny: ‘Did he make it to the top? Well, he probably did and dropped.’ There are so many verses, it was impossible to learn. G.E. Smith, who was playing with me, turned the pages. There is a lot of anger here. It’s not the Three Stooges.”
Like the lion tears the flesh off of a man
So can a woman who passes herself off as a male
They sang “Danny Boy” at his funeral and the Lord’s Prayer
Preacher talking ’bout Christ betrayed
It’s like the earth just opened and swallowed him up
He reached too high, was thrown back to the ground
You know what they say about bein’ nice to the right people on the way up
Sooner or later you gonna meet them comin’ down
The 30th Anniversary Bob-fest was a four hour concert and sold out to 18000 lucky basterds. The roster of artists included: Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, Lou Reed, The Clancy Brothers, Ritchie Havens, Johnny Winter, Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Chrissie Hynde, The O’Jays, Eddie Vedder, Sinéad O’Connor, Tracy Chapman, George Harrison.