The Best Dylan Covers: Roger McGuinn – Up To Me

Cardiff Rose

The Best Dylan Covers: Roger McGuinn – Up To Me

Up To Me was released on the album Cardiff Rose, a solo studio album by  ex-The Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn, released in 1976. The album, produced by Mick Ronson, was recorded on the heels of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue 1975 tour, in which both McGuinn and Ronson had participated. The album includes a pirate tale “Jolly Roger”, a song about King Arthur’s “Round Table”, and a classic version of Joni Mitchell’s “Dreamland”.

Stylistically, the album varies from traditional sounding folk and sea chanty music (such as the aforementioned “Jolly Roger”) to hard, gritty rock tunes strongly influenced by the burgeoning punk rock movement (such as “Rock and Roll Time”).

“Roger McGuinn’s inspired participation with Bob Dylan’s epic 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour led the bard to offer McGuinn this exquisite outtake from Blood on the Tracks for his inclusion on Cardiff Rose, perhaps his finest solo album. Easily on a par with all of the excellent songs on that album, McGuinn did here what he does best with outside material: he synthesized it to make it sound like his own. A multi-layered and first-person confessional ballad, it’s a love song that is akin to a painting or a film, complete with flashbacks, allegories, and foreshadowing. The powerful sense of dignity and responsibility here is, as always, engaging, and stands up to repeated listening as much as any Dylan material from this period. McGuinn does it extreme justice, with a rocked-up, energetic arrangement that is quite different (but equally as effective) as Dylan’s original, which has been often bootlegged.”
– Matthew Greenwald / Allmusic

Written by Bob Dylan and recorded by Dylan during the Blood on the Tracks sessions of 1974. Dylan’s original is very reminicent of “Shelter From the Storm,” keeping roughly the same melody  (but not quite). Roger McGuinn does it a bit different. Like he did in his Byrds days, McGuinn electrified the song and turned it into a folk-rock gem.

The acoustic Dylan version wasn’t released until the early ’90s when it appeared on the The Bootleg Series Vol. I-III. 1985 when it appeared in the box-set Biograph (thank you, Chris Burke).

Cardiff Rose (1976 album) version by Roger McGuinn:

Up to me – Roger McGuinn (Audio, studio version, from a Mojo magazine compilation):

Up To Me – Roger McGuinn (Live, Pepperdine University in Malibu California on October 9, 2009):

Cardiff Rose [Columbia, 1976]

“I’d written him off before Rolling Thunder, too, but this record, produced by fellow Roller Ronson and featuring various tour buddies, rocks wilder than anything he ever did with the Byrds. “
– Rober Christgau

Other entries in the series:
The Best Dylan covers: Stevie Wonder – Blowin’ in the wind
The Best Dylan Covers: George Harrison – If Not For You
The Best Dylan Covers: Emmylou Harris – Every Grain of Sand
The Best Dylan Covers: Them – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
The Best Dylan Covers: Joan Baez – Farewell Angelina

– Hallgeir

2 thoughts on “The Best Dylan Covers: Roger McGuinn – Up To Me”

  1. “The acoustic Dylan version wasn’t released until the early ’90s when it appeared on the The Bootleg Series Vol. I-III.”

    Small correction but I believe it first appeared on the Biograph box set in ’85.

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