Bob Dylan: That Lucky Old Sun

bob-dylan-shadows-in-the-night-1024x696Up in the mornin’, out on the job
Work like the devil for my pay
But that lucky old sun has nothin’ to do
But roll around heaven all day

  1. Song facts & different versions
  2. Lyrics
  3. Bob Dylan
  4. Bob Dylan versions

Song facts & different versions

wikipedia:

“That Lucky Old Sun” is a 1949 popular song with music by Beasley Smith and words by Haven Gillespie. Like “Ol’ Man River”, its lyrics contrast the toil and intense hardship of the singer’s life with the obliviousness of the natural world.

1949 recordings

  • The biggest hit version of the song was by Frankie Laine. This recording was released by Mercury Records. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on August 19, 1949 and lasted 22 weeks on the chart, peaking at #1.
  • The recording by Vaughn Monroe & His Orchestra was released by RCA Victor Records. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on September 16, 1949 and lasted 14 weeks on the chart, peaking at #9.
  • The recording by Louis Armstrong was released by Decca Records. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on October 14, 1949 and lasted 3 weeks on the chart, peaking at #24.
  • Frank Sinatra released his competing version of the song on the Columbia label. It reached the best sellers chart on October 29, 1949 and peaked at #16. Included on his The Best of The Columbia Years 1943–1952 album.

Other interesting recordings

  • Jerry Lee Lewis recorded an unreleased solo version at Sun Studios in 1956 or 1957.
  • A version by Sam Cooke appeared on his debut LP Sam Cooke (1957 album)
  • Willie Nelson recorded a version on the 1976 album The Sound in Your Mind which was also released as an extra track on the reissued Stardust: 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition.
  • Johnny Cash covered it on the album American III: Solitary Man in 2000.
  • Ray Charles
  • Brian Wilson
    “I’m fascinated with the lyrics of that song, about this negro slave who has a hell of a time working in the sun. I think it’s a very spiritual song.”
    ~Brian Wilson (to Mojo magazine November 2008)

Lyrics

Up in the mornin’, out on the job
Work like the devil for my pay
But that lucky old sun has nothin’ to do
But roll around heaven all day

Fuss with my woman, toil for my kids
Sweat till I’m wrinkled and gray
While that lucky old sun has nothin’ to do
But roll around heaven all day

Good Lord above, can’t you see I’m pining
Tears in my eyes
Send down that cloud with a silver lining
Lift me to paradise

Show me that river, take me across
And wash all my troubles away
Like that lucky old sun, give me nothin’ to do
But roll around heaven all day

Oh Lord above, can’t you know I’m pining
Tears in my eyes
Send down that cloud with a silver lining
Lift me to paradise

Show me that river, take me across
And wash all my troubles away
Like that lucky old sun, give me nothin’ to do
But roll around heaven all day

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan & Tom Petty

Dylan has performed this song 29 times in concert. 1986 was the big year with 24 performances.

From the recent AARP interview:

Q: I like your version of “Lucky Old Sun.” Can you talk about what drew you to this one in particular? Did you have a memory of it?

A: Oh, I’ve never not known that song. I don’t think anybody my age can tell you that they ever remember not knowing that song. I mean, it’s been recorded hundreds of times. I’ve sung it in concert.

Q: Have you?

A: Yeah. But I never really got to the heart of the song until recently.

Q: So how do you do that?

A: Well, you cut the song down to the bone and see if it’s really there for you to do. Most songs have bridges in them. A bridge is something that distracts a listener from the main verses of a song so the listener doesn’t get repetitively bored. My songs don’t have a lot of bridges because lyric poetry never had them. But when a song like “Autumn Leaves” presents itself, you have to decide what’s real about it and what’s not. Listen to how Eric Clapton does it. He sings the song, and then he plays the guitar for 10 minutes and then he sings the song again. He might even play the guitar again, I can’t remember. But when you listen to his version, where do you think the importance is? Well obviously, it’s in the guitar playing. He sings the song twice both the same way. And there’s really no reason to do that unless you’re singing the song in a different way. It’s OK for Eric because he’s a master guitar player and, of course, that’s what he wants to feature on any song he records. But other people couldn’t do it and get away with it. It’s not exactly getting to the heart of what “Autumn Leaves” is about. And as a performer, you don’t get many chances to do that. And when you get the opportunity, you don’t want to blow it. With all these songs you have to study the lyrics. You have to look at every one of these songs and be able to identify with them in a meaningful way. You can hardly sing these songs unless you’re in them. If you want to fake it, go ahead. Fake it if you want. But I’m not that kind of singer.

Bob Dylan versions

LA, California, 19 September 1985, Farm Aid Rehearsal (Audio & Videos)

University Of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois – 22 September 1985

..an absolutely stunning rendition of the song.
~Derek Barker (The Songs He Didn’t Write: Bob Dylan Under the Influence)

… “That Lucky Old Sun.” That voice! The song is a prayer, sung by a farm laborer or farmer or any working man, requesting freedom in the form of immediate release from this
earthly prison. Dylan sings it with great love and empathy; presumably it serves as a kind of oblique explanation of why he is here at this benefit concert today. The sound of his voice is beautiful, astonishing. “When I do whatever it is I’m doing there is rhythm involved and there is phrasing involved … it’s in the phrasing and the dynamics and the rhythm,” he said in the Westwood One interview, and this performance serves as splendid example. The rhythm of the song is what ignites Dylan’s singing, that’s where his passion comes from and how it expresses itself. That’s what gives the vocal such fullness and life. And his phrasing is the vehicle by which he articulates the strong and very specific feelings that the words of the song arouse in him. When we try to point to the beauty we hear in the performance, we find ourselves pointing to his phrasing. That extra something. The spin on the ball.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Dane County Memorial Coliseum, Madison, Wisconsin – 5 November 1991

Bob Dylan’s charming semi-acoustic performance from the Memorial Coliseum, Dane County (November 5, 1991) can be found on the bootleg CDs “Golden Vanity” and “Genuine ever Ending Tour Covers Collection 1988-2000”. This excellent quality recording finds Dylan in fine voice.
~Derek Barker (The Songs He Didn’t Write: Bob Dylan Under the Influence)
That Lucky old sun 1991-11-05 madison by bob dylan on Grooveshark

Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine, California – 29 June 2000

…and finally the new versions from his brilliant new album “Shadows in The Night
That Lucky Old Sun by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

Check out:

-Egil

One thought on “Bob Dylan: That Lucky Old Sun”

  1. Bob Dylan, You should have rode on the back of my Harley Davidson Trike Chopper back in December 1978…we were both wearing our leathers and you said it was too cold. And your boy guards said,” Bob Dylan look alike”, of course I said .”no, Linda Chaney look alike!” Ahhh the Memories…. We know the day. At Dr O’Shays lounge across from the Carolina Coliseum. I about froze to death trying to make it to the Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta the next night, as I cruised into Atlanta at daybreak , the sun was rising and the full moon was setting right next to each other over the city skyline. I had icicles hanging from everywhere, even my elbows had horizontal icicles. …I tried and I will never forget the fun we had in Columbia,SC and Billy Cross…of course… was the lead guitarist that night. But YOU were the miracle man and still are. Motorcycle Mama in SC… If God’s willing and the creek don’t rise you’ll ride that Hawg in Heaven one day. Congratulations to you and thanks to the one that up loaded this… With Love and Much Respect Always, Linda Lyles Alias: Motorcycle Mama

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