Bob Dylan: I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
Thea Gilmore: I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
Of the several saints titled Augustine, it's not clear which one Dylan meant to reference here. But most folks assume it's Augustine of Hippo, an early Roman convert and philosopher whose work dwelled heavily on the nature of good and evil - patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians and sore eyes, framer of the concepts of original sin and just war, and often considered one of the theological fathers of Reformation due to his teaching on salvation and divine grace.
Pensive and spare in the '67 original, the song has been covered many times, by some of the stalwarts of folk music, from Joan Baez to Earl Scruggs. Most manage to retain the original guilty tone of the lyric, which decries the absence of martyrs in modern society, but holds us responsible for that lack even as it portrays us as powerless to fix it. My favorite cover, though, is Thea Gilmore's - in no small part because of the loud wash of echoey electric guitar which lends so much depth to its slow, gritty Americana pulse. For fans of the Cowboy Junkies, especially.
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