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Monday, October 28, 2013

Gotta’ Serve Somebody: A Gospel (music) Version of the Gospel According to Bob Dylan

I’ve been in a Bob Dylan sort of mood for the past couple of weeks – much to my wife’s displeasure.  She doesn’t care for old Robert Zimmerman.  I’ve been listening to my Dylan CDs as I drive and the larger collection of his music available via the internets as I work at my computer.  One of the disks that I’ve been listening to is Gotta’ Serve Somebody: the Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan.  My friend Scott gave it to me a few years ago.  Now, Gospel music isn’t my favorite (and I especially can’t stand Southern Gospel.  I once had someone ask me in all seriousness how I could be a pastor and not like Southern Gospel music….) but for Dylan I can make an exception.

Gotta’ Serve Somebody (2003) includes covers of some of Dylan’s songs from his “born again period,” 1979 – 1981 – tracks from his albums Slow Train Coming and Saved but not from his third album during this period, Shot of Love

I like the album – though I don’t listen to it as often as I do Dylan’s other work.  I like the album, but I’m a little disappointed that the producers chose to limit themselves and the artists to Bob’s explicitly Christian albums, because, honestly… these were not Bob’s best works.  There are some good bits, sure, but overall, Bob’s “Christian” albums were weak – musically and lyrically. 

If I had been the producer of Gotta’ Serve Somebody I would have included gospel versions of songs like A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall or When the Ship Comes In.  Or how about a gospel cover of Shelter From the Storm.  These songs may not be as evangelically explicit as songs like Gotta Serve Somebody or When You Gonna Wake Up but there’s still a gospel quality to them. 

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