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Sunday 16 June 2024

Single Song Sunday

It's back! Our long-running but rarely sighted series once more ambles into view.

I was surprised to discover when preparing this post that it has taken 13 years and 66 episodes to get round to featuring a Bob Dylan song. I can only blame myself.

The song we have chosen to break Bob's duck is "Just Like A Woman". Originally appearing in June 1966 on his "Blonde On Blonde" album, it was released as a single in August the same year and struggled its way up to #33 in the Billboard charts.

Bob's own version of the song was not the first to be released as a single though. Over in the UK Manfred Mann recorded a cover within days of "Blonde On Blonde" coming out. Their version was released as a single in July, reaching the Top 10 in the UK and many parts of Europe.

"Just Like A Woman" was one of three Bob songs that the Manfreds took into the charts, and the next two versions in our list are also by regular Bob botherers. The Byrds recorded it in 1971 but it stayed in the vaults until it appeared on their 1990 self-titled 4 CD box set. Richie Havens recorded the song more than once - I have opted for the version on his 1972 live album "On Stage".

Also bringing it to you live (or at least live in the studio) is Van The Man. This version was recorded at the Pacific High Studios in San Francisco in 1971 and that session has been bootlegged many times over the years. I have it on an Italian bootleg called "Buonasera" - an album I believe may have been a formative influence on our old friend Furgone di Piufiglio.

Next up we have three versions of "Just Like A Woman" sung by actual women (where will this madness end?). It won't surprise you to learn that Nina Simone's take is the pick of the bunch, but I also like Bridget St' John's version. 

Nina's recording first appeared on "Here Comes The Sun" (1971) and can be found on numerous compilations of hers. I found Bridget's cover on a 3 CD collection called "From There / To Here - UK/US Recordings 1974-1982" from 2022. As far as I can tell was previously unreleased.

The final female version is by Charlotte Gainsbourg, ably supported by Calexico. It comes from the soundtrack album from Todd Haynes' 2007 film "I'm Not There". That is the one where he got actors to "dramatize the life and music of Bob Dylan as a series of shifting personae" (quote), including Christian Bale, Cate Blachett, Heath Ledger, Jeanette Krankie and Richard Gere among others.

We round things off with a Swedish interpretation from 1980 by one Ulf Lundell and the Mandatory Reggae Version from Mr Pat Kelly. For some reason when Pat and Duke Reid released this as a single in 1974 they decided to use the title "Nobody". I don't know why, perhaps they were trying to put Bob's royalty collectors off the scent. 

"Just Like A Woman" - Bob Dylan

"Just Like A Woman" - Manfred Mann

"Just Like A Woman" - The Byrds

"ust Like A Woman" - Richie Havens

"Just Like A Woman" - Van Morrison

"Just Like A Woman" - Nina Simone

"Just Like A Woman" - Bridget St. John

"Just Like A Woman" - Charlotte Gainsbourg & Calexico

"Precis Som En Kvinna" - Ulf Lundell

"Nobody" - Pat Kelly


  1. Good stuff.
    I would image that there is scope for a whole series of SSS's of songs by his Bobness

  2. I don't have many of the versions you list above in my own collection... but i do have a rather unconventional version by Jeff Buckley, a more traditionally 60s version by a group called The Fellowship (who clearly require a Namesakes edition), an extremely Stevie Nicks version by Stevie NIcks and a rather cool instrumental recording by Bill Frisell. You're welcome.

    1. I have heard the Jeff Buckley version - he is a taste I have never quite been able to acquire - but not the others. The Bill Frisell version sounds interesting, I will have to check it out.

  3. Late on this and almost missed out - so glad I didn't. Cover versions are (cliche alert) somewhat of a curate's egg but from this batch I was especially pleased to listen in their entirety to the versions by Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift and Amber Rubarth ( who she? I must follow up). Also liked the mandatory reggae version. Always felt a bit uncomfortable by the 'break like a little girl' line but as several female singers here seem to have no trouble with it including the redoubtable Nina Simone (no one messes with Nina!) I should relax a little!