Friday, July 27, 2018

Did Our Singapore Bands Cover Bob Dylan In 60s?

Bob Dylan: Yesterday and Today
 2,400  VIEWERS

This posting 15 July 2011

A note from anonymous:

Did any Singaporean artists of the 60s and 70s cover Dylan songs at the time? Either in English or any other language? I'm collecting covers of Dylan in languages other than English, and Asian-language ones are hard to find. Love your blog. What a lively and attractive scene you had back then and very well detailed by your good self - July 13, 2011, 11:04 PM.

My reply:

Hi, anon,
To specifically target particular groups or singers who play or sing Dylan can be daunting, so do give me a bit of time as it may take a while. Thanks for visiting and the lovely pat on the back. Andy.

Reply From Vernon Cornelius:
Hi Andy,

I don't think anyone here covered Dylan in 60s and 70s. I know bands like The Quests (1966-67) performed Don't think twice it's alright, recorded, All my Sorrows, traditional by BD as All My Trials. Myself from 1969, singing All Along The Watchtower, Lay Lady Lay and much more!

In the 70s Fried Ice, Pests Infested, Stray dogs, Heritage, Mogan etc. performed BD, but I'm quite sure none ever recorded such material. In 1989 I recorded Mr Bojangles but not a BD song. 

In Chinese (Mandarin) there is great probability only the simple, Blowing in the Wind was recorded. Maybe too by Foo Soo Yin. The structure of Dylan English and music craft would've made it impossible to cover such songs unless lyrics were changed to flow better.
Bob Dylan. Lay Lady Lay: Video from Post Productions. October 2008.

I became heavily BD from 1969 and played him on Rediffusion 69-75, and from 1989 with my band Overheads performed numerous BD songs. After my Rediffusion stint I became a musicologist, and in 1972 to 1973 gave lengthy serious talks at the National Library on the History and Development of modern pop music.

Regret I didn't give you much, but this confirms much of what you already know. Sending you warmest wishes.


Thanks to Vernon for the answer. 
Images from Google.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Andy & Vernon,
That pretty much confirms what I've (not) found.

That's an interesting comment about "Dylan English" and music craft - I'm not sure what's meant by the latter, but certainly Dylan translations in some European languages are not at all literal & in some cases are comprehensively rewritten.

Is it possible there was also a political sensitivity to some Dylan songs?

Just in case you're interested, Vernon, there's a kickass version of 'My Back Pages' by the Magokoro Brothers from Japan which really shows how to cram the lyrics into the line.

Thanks, guys.
John from Australia.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi John,
Glad you got some confirmation here. But do cotinue your search for other translations of BD songs. Happy hunting.

I have sent Vernon your comment. Hopefully he will provide some more insight.

'My Back Pages' by BD and MB have been put up on the right bar of this blog.

Learnt some from you today. Thanks again for visiting and please come back to share your information anytime.

Anonymous said...

Dylan wrote poetry that never always rhymed, yet BD's writings are now a subject in US Universities. His music craft extends to mixtures of 2 rhythms - tempo within a tempo, sometimes an instrument plays counter tempo to the basic beat - blended in one song. Lots of this from 1965 albums.

Beatles were doing this too from this period. Too much to detail in an email, and I ain't that much a musician to discuss beat counts! Sorry!

BD's songs may have been controversial in the USA context, but these political sensitivities were unrelated to Singapore.

Only one banned BD song "Rainy Day Women" #12 & 35 in the late '60s United Nations recommended list of drug-influenced songs - the obvious words "Everybody must get stoned"! 'Stoned' was a bad word then though BD used it in a different context.

Rediffusion in Singapore followed that rule/list but the rebel & devil in me as DJ then, challenged it by playing in 'on the air' especially when I imagine my boss Mike Ellery would be asleep or not listening. Heheheh...

Magokoro Bros are the modern pop version, and almost a parody of Chage & Aska! I saw them at a Mitsukoshi Store in the Ginza mid-1990s.

Vernon Cornelius

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

1) Thanks Vernon for reply. Dylan, Elvis, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. have always been subjects at universities under Popular Culture or otherwise.

Again, modern versions and parodies of pop classics are numerous. As an example, Al Yankovic has parodied more than 150songs.

2) It is never easy to translate even a piece of prose, let alone poetry and lyrics into another language.

Hardly anyone in Singapore in the 60s would take the trouble to translate Boy Dylan's lyrics into something as meaningful and effective, and yet retaining the theme, into Chinese (Mandarin) or Malay.

At most only the music is covered and lyrics changed. And Bob Dylan isn't easy, or is he?

Comment anyone?

Anonymous said...

BD is one guy whose music and lyrics I have difficulty understanding. Too cheem!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks SK for email. It takes a while but he's a great artiste and composoer isn't he? Controversial figure though.

Anonymous said...

From my eMail Bag:

Second Shot wrote:

Wah, Unker Andy. If you mean the 60s music blog, it is a very focused blog, on music that is. But I'm afraid I'm too young to have appreciated those music. Maybe if you have a video on LKY singing 'Burung Kakatua' ... :)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Second Shot for the reply. This blog is actually intended for our youths too, to celebrate a beautiful music past that has hardly been emphasised by those in command.

As an example, in most of the New Year countdowns at New York Times Square, there's always been a 60s band represented.

For our New Year countdowns, what do we see?


Peter, Paul and Mary sang BD’s songs very well.

Anonymous said...

Bob Dylan is in town. So here's one burning question answered by Vernon.

Any other reply from the rest of you?

FL said...

Bob Dylan is one of the great folk singers since the sixties. I like one of his hit songs, Time they a changing and many others too.


I know of at least two Bob Dylan songs recorded in Singapore in the 1960's. The Dee Tee’s, who were all British servicemen (RN), recorded She Belongs To Me.

As for local acts, Paul RT and The Rocking Skippers covered Blowing In The Wind, a song that Vernon suggested that somebody might have recorded. I am sure there must be other examples.