"Spanish Harlem Incident"
Yonder Mountain String Band
Original Dylan version found on Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)
This week's selection is relatively new and certainly obscure. But that doesn't mean it's not good.
The four-piece bluegrass group Yonder Mountain String Band is based out of Colorado. Their sound is a little more agressive than the original American traditional mountain sounds that originated in Appalachia. But YMSB certainly knows their roots, and it shows on this cover of Dylan's "Spanish Harlem Incident."
Bob Dylan's original recording is basically an urban blues about an immediate attraction to a woman that the narrator glimpses on a (presumably Manhattan, given the title) street. The lyric is beautifully layered and poetic in its transference to the reader of the hard to describe feeling that occurs when a total stranger can strike one's fancy in a strong, almost obsessive way.
This particular YMSB live performance is taken from an appearance this past summer at the 2010 9th Annual Northwest String Summit in North Plains, Oregon. No doubt Dylan would be pleased, given his open admiration of American music legend Bill Monroe: the band here uses Monroe's familiar rhythmic cadence while guitarist Adam Aijala takes the lead vocal and matches the melody with the feverish words provided by Dylan.
Original Listening: Bob Dylan, "Spanish Harlem Incident" (Another Side of Bob Dylan, 1964)
Another Cover: The Byrds, "Spanish Harlem Incident" (Mr. Tambourine Man, 1965)
Still Another Cover: Dion, "Spanish Harlem Incident" (The Return of The Wanderer, 1978)