The rats have got your flour Bad blood it got your mare If there’s anyone that knows Is there anyone that cares?
– Bob Dylan (Ballad of Hollis Brown)
The Best Dylan Covers: Nina Simone – Ballad of Hollis Brown
Ballad of Hollis Brown is a song written by Bob Dylan, released in 1964 on his third album The Times They Are A-Changin’. The song tells the story of a South Dakota farmer, who overwhelmed by the desperation of poverty, kills his wife, children and then himself.
Lyrically, this song consists of 11 verses which bring the listener to a bleak and destitute South Dakota farm, where a poor farmer (Hollis Brown), his wife and five children, already living in abject poverty, are subjected to even more hardships. In despair, the man kills his wife and children and himself with a shotgun. A murder ballad if there ever was one, I would love to hear Nick Cave tackle this song.
Eunice Kathleen Waymon aka. Nina Simone was the sixth of eight children, she grew up in poverty in Tryon, North Carolina. Her family wished for her was that she should be the world’s finest classical pianist. She did not get into the schools she wanted and always blamed racism.
Born the sixth child of a preacher’s family in North Carolina, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist. Her musical path changed direction after she was denied a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite a well-received audition. Simone was later told by someone working at Curtis that she was rejected because she was black. When she began playing in a small club in Philadelphia to fund her continuing musical education and become a classical pianist she was required to sing as well. She was approached for a recording by Bethlehem Records, and her rendering of “I Loves You, Porgy” was a hit in the United States in 1958. Over the length of her career Simone recorded more than 40 albums, mostly between 1958—when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue—and 1974.
Simone has dug deep into the american song tradition and it comes as no surprise that she has done several of Bob Dylan’s songs. She is an incredible interpreter of Dylan.
The first song is a contender for best Bob Dylan cover ever done (yes, I am aware of Hendrix’ Watchtower).
The Ballad of Hollis Brown(live,Mickery Theatre, The Netherlands in 1965):
Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I stand inside the rain
That Baby’s got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have fallen from her curls
“Just Like a Woman” is a song written by Bob Dylan and first released on his 1966 album, Blonde on Blonde. It was also released as a single in the U.S. during August 1966 and peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Dylan’s version of the song at #232 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Langston left us about a year ago.
Before he died made me promise to sing this song wherever I went, I told him that I would because he wouldn’t be around to say it anymore
Backlash Blues is the 6th track on one of my favourite albums, Nina Simone’s Nina Simone Sings The Blues.
This was Simone’s first album for RCA Records after previously recording for Colpix Records and Philips Records. The album was also reissued in 2006 with bonus tracks, and re-packaged in 1991 by RCA/Novus as a 17-track compilation under the title The Blues.
Nina Simone Sings the Blues is a classic record that will stand the test of time; it is a true classic. The best version, in my not so humble opinion, is on the album Forever Young, Gifted and Black: Songs of Freedom And Spirit, a fabulous compilation released in 2006.