‘My Burden Is Heavy . . .’

As the RealPlayer settled the other night on Joe Cocker’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Dear Landlord,” I wondered, as I regularly do with so many tracks, about other covers of the tune. So I headed off to Second Hand Songs and a few other places.

Dylan’s original was on his 1968 album John Wesley Harding, and Cocker covered it in 1969 on Joe Cocker! And I came up with several other versions, including one that was a real surprise to me. We’ll get to that one in a bit, because as I looked, I had an idea. Cocker’s album, his second, has long been one of my favorites, and I wondered about putting together kind of an alternate version of the Joe Cocker! album, seeking out other versions of the ten tunes, some of them perhaps the originals but most of them other covers.

And I headed out into the wilds of the ’Net to see if that were possible. And yes, it is. So this is the first in a series of posts offering those tunes. We might at times do two or more tracks in a post as we make our way down this road, but today, we’ll satisfy ourselves with one.

During the 1969 sessions for the album Unhalfbricking, the British folk-rock group Fairport Convention took a stab at “Dear Landlord.” The track didn’t make the album, but it showed up years later as a bonus track when Unhalfbricking was released on CD. (If I’d ever replicated my Fairport Convention collection on CD, I would have known about the track long ago; there’s only so much money and so much shelf space, you know.)

The YouTube poster who uploaded Fairport’s “Dear Landlord” offered a quote from an unidentified member of the group, a comment that I would guess was taken from the notes that accompanied the CD release: “An out-take from the Unhalfbricking sessions. We would have added more instruments to this Bob Dylan-composed track had it been chosen to be on the album. As it is, its simplicity is one of the strongest points.”

With that, here’s the first track in our journey:

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2 Responses to “‘My Burden Is Heavy . . .’”

  1. Marie says:

    This is a great idea, whiteray! Somehow, I hadn’t heard this version by Sandy Denny – wonderful.

    (Sent you an invite to my private blog. Hope you got it. If not, check your junk folder. 😉

  2. Yah Shure says:

    Your hunch was spot-on: Ashley Hutchings wrote the liner notes to the 2003 Island Remasters reissue of ‘Unhalfbricking,’ including the “Dear Landlord” outtake comment. Ditto for the second bonus track, a cover of “The Ballad Of Easy Rider”:

    “A McGuinn-Dylan song associated with the film Easy Rider. Although it was recorded as part of the Liege and Lief sessions, this naturally blends in with the Unhalfbricking tracks.”

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