Category Archives: Bob Dylan songs

Bob Dylan: “Covenant Woman”, Live & Studio versions

Covenant woman got a contract with the Lord
Way up yonder, great will be her reward
Covenant woman, shining like a morning star
I know I can trust you to stay where you are

Bob Dylan recorded the album version of “Covenant Woman” on February 15 in 1980.

Very good song from the album “Saved” (1980). The live versions from November 1979 &  1980 are GREAT.

Album version:

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
Sheffield, Alabama
15 February 1980

5th and last Saved recording session produced by Jerry Wexler & Barry Beckett.

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Fred Tackett (guitar)
  • Spooner Oldham (keyboards)
  • Tim Drummond (bass)
  • Jim Keltner (drums)

Alt version – Take 3 – February 11, 1980 (released on “Trouble No More” (2017))

Live versions

‘Covenant Woman’ proved to be a rather delicate flower. Once plucked as a performance piece, its fragile hue began to fade real quick. It was the highlight of the November 1979 shows, but rapidly wilted upon its removal from its homegrown vineyard. By the time Dylan came to the Saved sessions, in mid-February 1980, any sense of intimacy had all but gone.
-Clinton Heylin (Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol. 2, . 1974-2008)

Despite being one of the duller performances on the Saved album, ‘Covenant Woman’ was a significant song for Dylan himself. He put it on a single, and on the first gospel tour, months before Saved had even been recorded, he performed it live at all 26 concerts: and he always placed it first among those featured songs that were not drawn from Slow Train Coming. On the second gospel tour, in early 1980, he gave it the same prominence at all 24 concerts. Then he dropped it altogether for the April–May dates but brought it back in for that year’s fall tour.
-Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)

Fox Warfield Theatre
San Francisco, California
4 November 1979


Fox Warfield Theatre
San Francisco, California
16 November 1979


Civic Auditorium
Santa Monica, California
19 November 1979

Gammage Center
Tempe, Arizona
26 November 1979

Civic Auditorium
Knoxville, Tennessee
6 February 1980

Massey Hall
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
19 April 1980

Lyrics

 

Covenant woman got a contract with the Lord
Way up yonder, great will be her reward
Covenant woman, shining like a morning star
I know I can trust you to stay where you are

And I just got to tell you
I do intend
To stay closer than any friend
I just got to thank you
Once again
For making your prayers known
Unto heaven for me
And to you, always, so grateful
I will forever be

I’ve been broken, shattered like an empty cup
I’m just waiting on the Lord to rebuild and fill me up
And I know He will do it ’cause He’s faithful and He’s true
He must have loved me so much to send me someone as fine as you

And I just got to tell you
I do intend
To stay closer than any friend
I just got to thank you
Once again
For making your prayers known
Unto heaven for me
And to you, always, so grateful
I will forever be

Covenant woman, intimate little girl
Who knows those most secret things of me that are hidden from the world
You know we are strangers in a land we’re passing through
I’ll always be right by your side, I’ve got a covenant too

And I just got to tell you
I do intend
To stay closer than any friend
I just got to thank you
Once again
For making your prayers known
Unto heaven for me
And to you, always, so grateful
I will forever be


-Egil

Bob Dylan’s Best Songs: Just Like A Woman





She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl


No, no. I knew a lot of those people but I also know a lot of lesbians. They’re not going to ask me to join a lot of campaigns just because I wrote Just Like A Woman
~Bob Dylan (to Philip Fleishman, Feb 1978)

Well, that’s true, that’s true, I believe that. I believe that that feeling in that song [Just Like A Woman] is true and that I can grasp it, you know, when I’m singing it. But if you’re looking for true companion in a woman, I mean… I can’t stand to… to run with women anymore, I just can’t, it bothers me. I’d rather stand in front of a rolling train, y’know. But if you find a woman that is more than a companion, that is also your sister, and your lover and your mother, y’know, if you find all them ideas in one woman, well, then you got a companion for life. You don’t ever have to think about.
~Bob Dylan (to Matt Damsker, Sept 1978)

First of all, the song (the performance of the song included on Blonde On Blonde) is affectionate. This is evident in the opening harmonica notes, and the vocal that follows is affectionate in tone from beginning to end; there’s never a moment in the song, despite the little digs and the confessions of pain, when you can’t hear the love in his voice..
~Paul Williams (BD Performing artist 1960-73)

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Bob Dylan’s Best Songs: Scarlet Town





In Scarlet Town where I was born
There’s ivy leaf and silver thorn
The streets have names you can’t pronounce
Gold is down to a quarter of an ounce

“Scarlet Town” was inspired by “Barbara Allen,” a seventeenth-century English or Scottish traditional ballad brought by immigrants to the New World. A recording of “Barbara Allen” can be found on the album Live at the Gaslight 1962, a collection of early Dylan performances at the Gaslight Cafe in New York City. “Scarlet Town” has other allusions as well, including echoes of the children’s nursery rhyme “Little Boy Blue,” the country hit “I’m Walking the Floor Over You” by Ernest Tubb, and even a reference to Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe with the line in the first verse, “Uncle Tom still workin’ for Uncle Bill.” But beyond these references, the picture drawn is pure Dylan. He clearly describes a damned city, a new alley of desolation with “beggars crouching at the gate,” where “evil and the good [are] livin’ side by side.”
-Margotin, Philippe; Guesdon, Jean-Miche (Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track)

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Bob Dylan’s Best Songs: Nettie Moore





Lost John’s sittin’ on a railroad track
Something’s out of whack
Blues this mornin’ fallin’ down like hail
Gonna leave a greasy trail

..the song is pure Dylan invention, on the face of it an absurdist assortment of images that take the listener in all sorts of directions, incorporating fragments of other songs and texts, for instance quoting from Delta bluesman Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail”: “Blues this morning falling down like hail.” Dylan can juxtapose a reference to his own band (“I’m in a cowboy band”), to the excesses of Dylanology (“The world of research has gone berserk / Too much paperwork”)—and then throw in a reference to the traditional folk song “Frankie and Albert,” which he had covered on the 1992 anthology Good As I Been To You: “Albert’s in the graveyard, Frankie’s raising hell.” And yet it works as a song whose sorrow reflects that of the 1859 slave song whose title it takes, but is intensified by the melody, the images, and above all by Dylan’s voice in all its aged richness.
-Why Bob Dylan Matters, by Richard F. Thomas

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Bob Dylan’s Best Songs: Sara

I laid on a dune, I looked at the sky
When the children were babies and played on the beach
You came up behind me, I saw you go by
You were always so close and still within reach

Sara, Sara
Whatever made you want to change your mind?
Sara, Sara
So easy to look at, so hard to define

I’ve heard it said that Dylan was never as truthful as when he wrote Blood On The Tracks, but that wasn’t necessarily truth it was just perceptive. Or when people say Sarawas written for “his wife Sara” – it doesn’t necessarily have to be about her just because my wife’s name happened to be Sara. Anyway, was it the real Sara or the Sara in the dream? I still don’t know.
-Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Cott, 17 September 1978)

Vimeo:

The night Dylan recorded the song in late July 1975, Sara, who was already separated from him, stopped by the studio. Larry Sloman recalls, “Dylan suddenly turned to his wife and said, ‘This is for you,’ and broke into the compelling song he had written for her that summer in the Hamptons. No one had heard it before, but Stone and Scarlet and Wyeth picked up the tempo, Scarlet playing some exquisite fills, underlining the melancholy of the lyrics.
-Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon (Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track)

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