The marvelously raw and literate These United States recently recorded a cover for a French compilation called Dylan Mania (which also features Magnet’s version of “Lay Lady Lay,” and Antony and the Johnsons knocking on heaven’s door alongside many French bands).
Where Dylan’s original of “To Ramona” waltzed and lilted in courteous measured style, These United States keel off into the hayloft as we hasten the jamboree. The thrumming and playfully creative drumbeat (courtesy of mohawked Robby) builds and drives the song along, while Jesse’s voice earnestly cracks exactly where you hope it will. There’s also some pedal steel bringin’ the lonesome, and a particularly nice clattery-taptastic breakdown towards the end.
Ramona come closer, shut softly your watery eyes
The pangs of your sadness will pass as your senses will rise
For the flowers of the city though breathlike get deathlike sometime
And there’s no use in trying to deal with the dying
Though I cannot explain that in lines.
To Ramona (Dylan cover) – These United States
One reviewer said that TUS plays their folk “the way it was meant to be played: hard, fast, big, slow, long, loud, loose, and at last unburdened. They play it like they mean it.” Personally they describe their music as cumulonimbus wordpop for the jangly railyard dreamer — I really like that.
For completists, here’s the original and a cover that David Gray did on his 2007 cover album A Thousand Miles Behind. And as David says at the beginning of the recording, “I absolutely loved this one from the first time I heard it…”
I’d forever talk to you but soon my words
would turn into a meaningless ring
for deep in my heart I know there’s no help I can bring
Everything passes, everything changes
just do what you think you should do
And someday maybe, who knows baby
I’ll come and be crying to you
[photo taken in a sweaty bar at SXSW by one Todd Roeth]