“Make You Feel My Love” – Bryan Ferry

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This song from Bob Dylan’s 1997’s album “Time out of Mind” has become a bit of a war horse, covered by by Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Kelly Clarkson and Adele among many others. However, this cover by Bryan Ferry from his 2007 album “Dylanesque” is my favorite. There’s just something about how Ferry’s world-weary voice delivers Dylan’s simple and sincere lyrics that’s really remarkable.

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“A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall” – Bryan Ferry

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Bryan Ferry’s classic cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall,” the lead off track from his first solo album “These Foolish Things” from 1973. Since “Things” was nothing but covers (including songs by Lesley Gore, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Paris Sisters), Ferry treated this “sacred” Dylan track like any other pop song. What made his cover so acclaimed (and controversial) was that he took Dylan’s earnest acoustic ballad and added metallic guitars, heavy drums, strings, sound effects to create a Phil Spector-like “wall of sound” so that you would actually feel that a hard rain was coming down. Many Dylan fans were appalled … but many others were also knocked out by the weird, overblown arrangement.

On a personal note, if you want to know what I looked like circa 1990 (sans the necklace … and not on purpose I should note), I looked a lot like Ferry in this early video.

“Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” – Bryan Ferry

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Bryan Ferry’s unique and eerie cover of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?”  I say eerie because there’s a sense of unease throughout this version that’s postively chilling.

Considering that the accompanying video from 1993 features Ferry crooning to Anna Nicole Smith, maybe he knew something that the public wouldn’t find out until years later.  All kidding aside, Smith is quite beautiful here and it’s a sad reminder of what she looked like before she became a pop culture joke / tragedy.

“The ‘In’ Crowd” – Bryan Ferry

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Bryan Ferry’s transcendent 1974 cover of the Dobie Gray – Ramsey Lewis jazz-soul classic from the 1960s. Ferry can totally rock a white dinner jacket and still kick ass better than most leather-jacketed would-be “tough” guys. He also has the good taste to include some dissonant electric guitars on this cover as a wink and nod to the hip rockers in the audience. Yes, Ferry looks like every bad personal injury lawyer on TV, but he arguably gets better as he gets older.

“Mother of Pearl” – Roxy Music

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For those that only know Roxy Music by the smooth crooning of 1982’s “Avalon” album need to understand that the band was not always so slick. The material that Roxy recorded during the period between 1972 and 1975 was a wonderful mix of the sleazy and the sublime. “Mother of Pearl” is arguably the greatest song of that period, and arguably the greatest thing they ever recorded.

The first 1:23 of this song is pure metallic freakout by guitarist Phil Manzanera while lead singer Bryan Ferry sings about all of the meaningless sex he’s getting, albeit with a very frenetic, panicked tone. Then, the song slows down considerably and Ferry finally confesses that he’s found what he was looking for all along … true love … and that he will give up everything to spend the rest of his life with his “mother of pearl.” Critics cite the Who’s “A Quick One” as the greatest mini-rock opera of all time. I totally love “A Quick One,” but I would also add “Mother of Pearl” to that very short list. It’s an absolutely thrilling and emotional epic. The song was used in a very pivotal early episode of the hit TV show “How I Met Your Mother” and also in the film “SLC Punk.”

(On a side note, I would also add Green Day’s “Jesus of Suburbia” to that very short list of greatest mini-rock operas of all time. But I’ve already discussed that in an earlier post).

“Song to the Siren” – Bryan Ferry (live on the Jools Holland show, 12-11-2010)

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An absolutely amazing cover of one of my all-time favorite songs. Given the subject matter, you would have thought that Ferry would have composed this song himself. However, it was written and performed by Tim Buckley in the late 1960s and Ferry’s version was from 2010.

Bryan Ferry just keeps getting better as he gets older. It’s almost like he’s been waiting his entire life to grow into the Serge Gainsbourg-like world-weary European gentleman he’s become. The studio version of “Siren” on Ferry’s “Olympia” album is stellar, but this live version is very special. Also, highly recommended is his 2007 album of Bob Dylan covers “Dylanesque.”

“Song to the Siren” – Tim Buckley (from “The Monkees” TV Show, 1968)

Here is the earliest known recorded version of Tim Buckley’s enduring and classic ballad.  It’s quite different than the version that was eventually recorded for Buckley’s 1970’s “Starsailor” album.  The version here (performed for “The Monkees” TV show in 1968) is more of a straight-ahead ballad, instead of the bizarre and heartbreaking version that appears on “Starsailor” that sounds like it was recorded by someone really ready to cast themselves on the rocks in despair.  A great and underrated song that keeps gaining more resonance as the years continue.  In just the last few years, Robert Plant, Bryan Ferry, and Sinead O’Connor have all done covers.  The most famous cover, by This Mortal Coil, has already been posted on Dave’s Strange World.

“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” – Bryan Ferry

In my opinion, Bryan Ferry gets better as he gets older. The world-weary Serge Gainsbourg persona suits him pretty well and he really covers Dylan with class and taste, especially this rambunctious cover of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”  I couldn’t find the terrific studio version from 2002’s “Frantic” on YouTube, so this decent live version will have to suffice.

“What Goes On” – Bryan Ferry

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Two Velvets covers for the price of one. From one of Ferry’s better solo albums (1978’s “The Bride Stripped Bare”).  Ferry ingeniously mixes “Beginning to See the Light” with “What Goes On.” The late-70s production and guitar work by Waddy Wachtel (Warren Zevon’s right-hand man) lends the perfect touch.