T for Tom

Day 31 – Good As I Been To You – 1992

Posted in A Dylan A Day by johnsontoms on July 23, 2016

By far my least favorite album cover.

A couple things stand out about Good As I Been To You, some things I already knew with a short listen some years ago – it’s the first fully acoustic record since 1964’s Another Side of Bob Dylan, and it’s composed of nothing but traditionals and covers. This seems to be have been done on purpose, taking the name to mean something literal.

The title is, after all, a conjecture: as good as Bobby’s been to us, he’s probably never felt respected, at least not in the way he wants or needs. It tells me also, that for all the different ways he’s tried (and oh he’s tried so many), there seems to have been only one that ever received universal praise. That being the acoustic one, that being the one he’s coyly returned to 30 years later.

It’s not to say that it isn’t worth a listen. I went to it some years ago, I don’t fully remember, but I recall that my opinion was good – hey, after all this shit, he got good again before we like to recall. Not with Time Out of Mind, not with Modern Times, but seemingly always and even when he’s not trying; for its lack of originality, it’s the master at work. Some of the compositions are right in place with anything from his self-titled debut, and this 1992 version of “Sitting On Top of the World” is one of the best versions of a song that’s been covered by nearly everyone.

Also though, and something we’ll see from here on, is that each record seems to be done merely for the sake of doing. I mean, hell, he’s put out two albums inside this most recent calendar year in 2016. It just seems like he’ll never tire of making records, or at least never tire of the idea that he should.

It’s going to be a repeated refrain to the end of this retrospective. Sometimes it’s folk, sometimes its blues, sometimes its heartland, but it’s always Bobby D and it’s always good. And I think that’s the compromise: we shouldn’t expect him to change the world again, but he’s proven enough that everything he’s going to do from this day on is at least worth our time.

As good as he’s been to us, I can settle for that.

Song: “Tomorrow Night”

Man, what a blues tune.


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