The third CD of the year: A Nod To Bob, a collection of fifteen Bob Dylan songs redone by folk artists (from the Red House Records stable). This was the most expensive CD so far, breaking the ten-buck barrier at $12.54.
I'm a fan of covers in general, and I have a fair though certainly not extensive collection of Dylan songs as done by other artists. I would call this set adequate. It's an adequate anthology. A serviceable selection. A competent collection. A not unpleasant omnibus. A mainly middling mélange. OK, done now.
Eliza Gilkyson, whoever that is, does a terrific, ethereal "Love Minus Zero" (one of my favorite fifty or so Dylan songs). Martin Simpson somehow reaches into the soul of "Boots Of Spanish leather" (a song that feels both ancient and timeless) and pulls off a rendition that may well equal Dylan's own. Suzzy and Maggie Roche (of the Roches, obviously) turn "Clothes Line Saga," already a weird song, into a weirder, subdued but quite pleasant kind of chant. Spider John Koerner and Dave Ray, two of Minnesota's best-known folkies, contribute a different version of "Delia," not much based on Dylan's but still enjoyable enough. Greg Brown, a songwriter I revere, disappoints with an unremarkable "Pledging My Time" (though the original never really grabbed me, anyway). John Gorka has always struck me as boring, so it's no surprise that his "Girl of the North Country" bores me. Hart-Rouge, a Québec band, make their "With God on our Side" interesting only by singing it in French, as "Dieu à nos Côtés." Everything else is not much worthy of comment either way.
Though am I the only Dylan fan who thinks Ramblin' Jack Elliott is a shambling mess of little talent? Huh?
So, in sum --- one of those CDs that you like the idea of better than the actual execution. Yes, I'm glad I own these Dylan covers. But I could easily have gone on in my music-listening career happily enough without ever hearing 'em.