It is, of course, one of Dylan’s greatest songs, layered in mystery and shot through with Scarlet Rivera’s violin. One of the jewels from that gem encrusted bangle that is ‘Desire.’ It’s a love song, it’s fantastical – populated with outlaw monarchs and generations of female seers. It is, itself, “mysterious and dark” – unsettling as it ponders on beauty before voyaging “to the valley below“. It is also a song that has attracted a good number of cover versions, which is what we’re all about in this feature. So, let’s start at the start.
One could almost say of the next version up “give this to McGuinn, he’ll know what to do with it“, and this version with Calexico acting as Roger McGuinn’s back up band is something special. As Roger told Americana UK a few years back when talking of this recording “I can’t imagine working with a better band than Calexico“, and we can hear why.
Something quite different is found in the unique phrasing of Frazey Ford, with the song seeming to flow out like a stream trying to find its way, the music tightly restrained and deliberately kept low key.
Restrained is not however the term that comes to mind for this next version by The White Stripes – unsurprisingly there’s a determinedly Garage Rock feel all sparse percussion and echoey haunted keyboards.
And so the last of this selection from the many, many versions of ‘One More Cup of Coffee‘, and the Irish singer-songwriter Brigid Mae Power brings a stripped down Spanish, or Spanish-American, feel to the song. It’s gentle and meditative and captivating – perfect for the song in other words.
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