Which artist sang the song Fallen Angel
When "Fallen Angels", the new work by Bob Dylan, appears on his 75th birthday on May 24th, you will be able to read everywhere that this is, like his last album "Shadows in the Night" to get a compilation of covers. It is misleading.
A cover version is a new recording of a song that is already characterized by a distinctive recording and interpretation that belongs to an artist and in most cases was not only sung by him, but also written. The cover version refers to this version and opposes it or bows to imitate it. It is less an interpretation of the written part of the song, but the interpretation of an interpretation, a recorded interpretation.
Bob Dylan has songs from the so-called for "Fallen Angels" (Columbia) Great American Songbook recorded, i.e. songs from a phase of popular music when it still lived mainly from the sale of compositions and scores and the success of a song could not least be measured by how many artists interpreted it. These singers of the thirties and forties were almost never themselves authors, the division of labor was still intact: What they provided was a skill, a mastery of a vocal subject, sometimes a scam, a trademark - but nobody thought that they could talk about themselves. The same themes were often used by jazz musicians who improvised on them instrumentally, using the familiarity of the melody as a springboard for effective processing.
Sinatra's version is by no means always the definitive one
With "Shadows in the Night" (2015), Dylan did not just refer to the songs, but also to their recordings by Frank Sinatra - and thus targeted precisely the turn in pop history when individual singers started, but definitely To bring versions into the world. Sinatra succeeded in doing this a few times, and more often than not, songs were written directly for him. The songs on "Fallen Angels" were all but one ("Skylarking") recorded by Frank Sinatra at some point.
But Sinatra's version is by no means always the definitive: This time there are mostly songs that one would rather assign to other performers, such as the fabulous Mills Brothers, who were famous for their vocal imitations of wind instruments. Their interpretations had a good decade under their belts before Sinatra took up the songs, which then remained more of a sideline in his discography.
So here Dylan is close to a principle of popular music that disappeared a good 50 years ago, not least because of his work and the innovations he staged. After all, it was him (with some comrades-in-arms like the Beatles, later Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Lou Reed), who in the course of the 1960s enforced the togetherness of a song with an interpreter, who was usually also the author, as a new principle. Dylan originally came from a type of music that was determined not so much by its performer, but now also not by a composer, but by an object, a content: the so-called Topical songs between folk, labor movement, blues and union culture.
Dylan can now almost masochistically dictate exactly what he has to do, tone by tone
They were designed to promote a political issue, emotionally charge it, and use it at public events. Some of these songs are associated with representatives of the American left whom Dylan admires, such as Woody Guthrie ("Song to Woody"), Leadbelly, Pete Seeger or Cisco Houston, but they were intended for political, not personal, use.
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