Friday, October 14, 2016

SHG: Peter, Paul & Mary: "Blowin' in the Wind"

Peter, Paul & Mary: “Blowin’ in the Wind”
Entered the chart on: 7/13/63
Peaked on: 8/17/63
Weeks at #2: 1
Song at #1: “Fingertips—Pt. 2” by Little Stevie Wonder

This is what I meant about “the next song that I cover by [PPM]” being “more significant.” Specifically, this is the first Bob Dylan song to hit the charts. Now, that’s Nobel Prize Winner Bob Dylan, a claim I would not have been able to make a week ago, except in jest (A friend’s comment: “Go home, Nobel Prize, you’re drunk!”). Bob will be charting tunes himself ere long, as you’ll soon see, but Peter, Paul & Mary saw the significance of his work enough to wish to interpret it themselves.

Of course, I need to refresh my memory of Bob’s original before I tackle the PPM cover, thus I’ll do so right now...

Right, Bob’s original is...more produced than I expected. In that there’s multi-tracking: Bob is backed by two acoustic guitars, one in each channel. I’m just assuming Bob played both parts. And there’s a touch of reverb on his voice, presumably to beef it up. Let’s be fair, especially at this early stage, Bob’s voice was thin, nasal and reedy at best. But there’s a raw honesty there that does a fine job of putting across the lyrics. It’s a beautiful song, and that shines through. Let’s see what PPM do with it:

This is interesting. There’s two guitars here, too, but the instrumental arrangement is different. And they’re singing in harmony from the start, adding an almost imperceptible bit of reverb half-way through the first verse. Mary drops out for the first refrain, leaving the men singing it alone, then sings the start of the second verse solo before they join in on harmonies. And she sings the second and third chorus repeats solo.

So, while everyone else battles it out for which version is superior (“Your version is overly fussy and lame!” cry the Dylan purists. “Your version is poorly-sung and amateurish!” cry his detractors), I’m going to call “push” on this one. There’s lots to recommend both versions. There’s nothing wrong with covering someone else’s song if you have respect for the original, and yet put your unique stamp on it.

That’s precisely what this does.

Rating: 5

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