For Bob Dylan / Dead Weather chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!
By Chris Moore:
Hello and welcome to yet another delay for the “double header” I promised last week or (technically) two weeks ago. But I have a good reason for holding off! Tonight, I’ve recorded “New Pony,” one of my least favorite Bob Dylan songs, because a brand new cover version was released on last week’s Dead Weather debut album.
First, I’ll give a little background on the original version of the song. “New Pony” was first released on Bob Dylan’s 1978 album Street Legal. To give you a little context here, Dylan had recently released Blood on the Tracks and Desire, arguably two of his best albums. The year 1975 found him fully engaged in the Rolling Thunder Revue along with such artists as Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, poet Allen Ginsberg, and others. Although he temporarily revived a different incarnation of the Revue in 1976, this phase of Dylan’s musical career was pretty much over by 1977.
This is not to say that life wasn’t busy for him. This was right around the time that his marriage to Sara Dylan was breaking down and the divorce proceedings began. A lot — perhaps too much — has been written about these personal aspects.
Street Legal was the product of a few weeks of sessions involving a select group of musicians that Dylan had recently worked with. Although his past two albums had met with critical success and his subsequent album, 1979’s Slow Train Coming, would earn him his first Grammy award, Street Legal has generally been lost in the valley between these two peaks.
Personally, I have always liked this album. Sure, the female background singers come across as a bit cheesy at times (have you heard “Baby, Stop Crying”?) and the instrumentation can be a bit much at times, but there are some great songs. “Changing of the Guards” is one of my favorite album openers and boasts a rare fade-in. “Is Your Love in Vain?” and “True Love Tends to Forget” are fantastic Dylan deep cuts. And “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)” is a narrative wrapped in the best, darkest mood you’ve ever felt. (Jerry Garcia recorded a great version of the latter.)
As for “New Pony”? Well, it generally ranks as one of my least favorite Dylan recordings of all time, and certainly on this record. In fact, it’s the very rare track that I may occasionally skip when listening to the album. Why it was placed in the number 2 slot, I’ll never know.
That being said, let’s flash forward to 2009. Last week, the Dead Weather released their debut album, Horehound. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this group, this is a side project band composed of the White Stripes’ Jack White (drums, some vocals, acoustic guitar on one track), the Kills’ Alison Mosshart (lead vocals), Queens of the Stone Age’s Dead Fertita (guitar, etc.), and Jack Lawrence (bass, etc.). I really liked last year’s Raconteurs album (Jack White and Jack Lawrence’s other side project band), so I figured I would give this one a shot as well.
Long review short, I was not as impressed as I had hoped to be. (My one-sentence review is coming shortly!) That being said, the album certainly has its moments, and for me, one of the best moments is track seven when they cover Dylan’s “New Pony.”
This is an excellent example of a band you wouldn’t necessarily think of as being heavily influenced by Bob Dylan turning around and pulling off a stand-up interpretation of one of his songs. After hearing it, I thought that this song fit better on this album than it did on Street Legal. In that sense, I was happy to assign “New Pony” to a better place in my estimation of Dylan’s catalog of songs.
So, without further ado, I submit to you my acoustic rendition of the song as a send-up to the 1978 Dylan version and a tip of the hat to the brand-new 2009 version by the Dead Weather. I found that I was psyched to learn this ridiculously easy (at least chord-wise) song. Anyone who visits the Laptop Sessions on any regular basis knows that I’m no stranger to a Bob Dylan cover song, but I never thought I’d be recording this one.
Well, at least not until I ran out of all the other ones in 2045 or so…
I hope you enjoy this, and be sure to stop back tomorrow for Jim Fusco’s Tuesday post, a couple days later for Jeff Copperthite’s Thumpin’ Thursday, and later this week for at least one more post from your truly. (I’ve got so much to say about other music and non-music related topics, but I think this is quite enough for one post!)
See you next session!