Today’s return of Under The Covers Sunday features Band Of Skulls covering one of my favorite Bob Dylan song, “It Ain’t Me Babe”. Settle in with me this first September Sunday to learn a little about the original track, as well as something about the featured cover version. By the end, you can join me on a little compare and contrast between the cover and the original, and decide which you love more.
Sometimes its a toss-up, and both are divine. At other times, there is one that hits harder, or more personally, to the listener. I love how subjective loving music is.
It can be fun, too, checking out whether the cover is more of a “tribute to the original”, or a unique, creative take on it – or maybe a bit of both.
So, let’s get started. Let’s press play together and have a listen to Band Of Skulls version, taken off of the Bob Dylan Tribute Album, Chimes Of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan, Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.
“It Ain’t Me Babe” by Band of Skulls
from the album, Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International (2012)
Under the Covers Sunday
“You say you’re lookin’ for someone,
never weak but always strong,
to protect you an’ defend you,
whether you are right or wrong –
someone to open each and every door.
But it ain’t me, babe,
no, no, no,
it ain’t me, babe,
it ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe.”
“It Ain’t Me Babe” was originally written and performed by Bob Dylan. It appeared first on his fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, released by Columbia Records in 1964. It’s been said that the song, and the album as a whole, marked a departure for Dylan. Oliver Trager noted that it chronicled Dylan “as he began to explore the possibilities of language and deeper levels of human experience.” (from Wikipedia)
Soon after its release “It Ain’t Me Babe” was covered by The Turtles and Johnny Cash. The latter sang it as a duet with June Carter. The song has been covered by many more artists, including Janis Joplin, Jan And Dean, Joan Baez, Nancy Sinatra, Bryan Ferry, Kesha, Band Of Skulls (who we are exploring today), and others.
Many sources cite that Dylan was inspired to write “It Ain’t Me Babe” because of his relationship with former girlfriend Suze Rotolo. He’s said to have written the song during a visit to Italy in 1963, while he was looking for Rotolo, who was studying there at the time. The notion of him “looking for her” makes it sound to me like she didn’t necessarily want him there, which gives an unsettling feeling to the story, as well as the song.
Though maybe it was within that search that he realized it wasn’t him she wanted? And that he no longer wanted to be the one she wanted? Perhaps.
The album, Another Side of Bob Dylan was notoriously recorded all in one night. That rumored all-night studio session is said to have been aided by “a couple of bottles of Beaujolais.” The last master take is said to have been completed at 1:30am.
According to various sources, the opening line to “It Ain’t Me Babe” (“Go away from my window”) is a shout-out to fellow folk-singer John Jacob Niles’ Song “Go ‘Way From My Window”.
“Go ‘Way From My Window” by John Jacob Niles
The lyric “no, no, no, it ain’t me babe” is also said to be a call-back to The Beatles’ “she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah”, from their hit song, “She Loves You”, which the girl in Dylan’s Song obviously does not.
“She Loves You” by The Beatles
Band Of Skulls is from Southampton in the UK. The trio consists of Russell Marsden (vocals and guitar), Emma Richardson (vocals and bass), and Matt Hayward (drums). The three formed the band in college, where they met, though Russell and Matt had been pals since they were kids.
Their overall style has been described as indie meets blues-rock. In 2017, Matt Hayward reportedly left the band. I’m glad that Russell and Emma continued. This year’s released album, Love Is All You Love, is fantastic.
Band of Skulls (the original three) were featured in the 2012 double cover album, Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International. The album was a charity compilation that featured new recordings of compositions by Bob Dylan by multiple artists. Proceeds from the album were donated to the human rights organization Amnesty International.
The cover compilation album debuted in the U.S at #11 on the Billboard 200 with 22,000 copies sold while the 2-CD version available at Starbucks debuted at #38 with more than 10,200 copies sold. (from Wikipedia)
Band of Skulls’ version of “It Ain’t Me Babe” is one of my favorite covers on the album.
Now let’s have a listen to Dylan’s original:
“It Ain’t Me Babe” by Bob Dylan
Though I am partial to the original (I love Dylan), I’m pretty fond of the Band Of Skulls cover. I’ve added it to many playlists and mixes. I find it to be both a tribute and a unique take.
What do you think? Do you prefer the cover or the original? Do you like another cover of “It Ain’t Me Babe” better? If so, will you share it?
Check back in next Sunday and climb under the covers with me to see what song I “cover” next. You won’t want to miss it!