Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dylan Covers: Man Gave Names to All the Animals

So far this week, we have already seen some of Bob Dylan’s remarkable range as a songwriter. He is equally adept at love songs, political songs that become generational anthems, and who-knows-whats that nevertheless resonate with people. But something interesting happens with “Man Gave Names to All the Animals”. The song was originally included on Slow Train Coming, Dylan’s somewhat notorious album where he embraced born-again Christianity; as such, the song is part of a suite of songs which function as an eloquent expression of faith. Dylan’s arrangement of the song was a rock-reggae hybrid.

But the covers of “Man Gave Names to All the Animals” are mostly by folk artists. Taken out of its original context, and given a softer arrangement, the truth is revealed: “Man Gave Names to All the Animals” is a great kid’s song. Not what you usually think of from Dylan.

Townes Van Zandt: Man Gave Names to All the Animals


Townes Van Zandt is one of those tragic figures who litter the pop music landscape. Mostly known during his lifetime to other musicians, it was only after his death at age 52 that his music began to reach a wider audience. “Pancho and Lefty” is probably his best known song. As can be heard here, he was also a fine singer and guitar player.

Tim O‘Brien: Man Gave Names to All the Animals


Tim O’Brien first gained attention as the leader of the bluegrass band Hot Rize in the 1980s. (If you like bluegrass, and have never heard them, do seek them out.) As a solo artist, and in a duo with his sister Mollie, O’Brien has expanded his sound. His version of ”Man Gave...” is from an album of Dylan covers called Red on Blond.

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