- Bryon Harris
Vargen - 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue'
Review by Sylvie Marie & Staff
If you are a Bob Dylan fan, then you know how difficult it is to cover a song that was written and performed by a man who can only be described as the greatest artist of all time and even that description fails to capture his significance. His songs have inspired and awakened the world.
"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" has been covered by Joan Baez, Van Morrison, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, and the Animals to name a few. And now, the new group from Sweden, Vargen (which translates to 'The Wolf'), has added their cover to the collection. Like the performance of a piece of classical music, each artist who has covered this Dylan song, has done what great artists do - they bring their own unique sound and interpretation to the table. Vargen is no exception as their unique instrumentation and vocals standout while maintaining Dylan's essential interpretation.
Opening the song, Vargen starts with moving, spacious arpeggios on an electric guitar. As the first verse commences, singular plucked bass notes add a rich, yet stark bottom. Vargen's version captures the deep melancholy feelings of finality. Vargen adds slide guitar for a weeping effect and hand drums for an ancient heartbeat. Their rendition has an ethereal vibe that allows the words to drift in the air, the way a relationship hangs in the air after a lover has left.
Mia Rosengren offers a stunning vocal performance with a voice that was made for this song. Her mellow vocal tone is rich, yet subdued. As she sings the line ,"look out, the saints are coming through" a crying guitar accompanies the harmonic change.
The raw and gorgeous vocals of Reine Johansson arrive, making this version a surprising duet. Reine's voice has tiny crevices filled with character that keep the song authentic to Dylan's performance. The two singers join in harmony on the chorus for a sound that captures sadness and edge. Hearing the song as a duet is very moving.
As the song moves forward, Vargen takes it up a notch, increasing the intensity and energy. Their musical statement matches the songs lyrics. "See how all your sea-sick sailors now are rowing home. Your empty-handed armies are all marching home. The lover who just walked out your door. Has taken all his blankets from the floor. The carpet, too, is moving under you And it’s all over now, Baby Blue picks up the energy." The band then pulls back on the words, "Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you."
There is speculation and mystery surrounding the meaning of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." Some say it is about the end of a relationship. Perhaps, Dylan is singing about Baez. Others believe Baby Blue is Dylan himself or his folk audience. Regardless of who Baby Blue is, the song's deeply poetic lyrics shoot an arrow straight into the heart, and Vargen makes sures their performance is heartfelt.
Vargen's rendition of Dylan's masterpiece is an artistic accomplishment that combines their unique ethereal sound while staying true to Dylan's emotion. Vargen's reflective and introspective vocal performance, and decision to make the song a duo, coupled with nuanced and moving musicianship makes for an unforgettable and outstanding cover of Dylan's classic song.
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