I’ve just noticed that in the wake of Miley Cyrus’s popular (and genuinely quite fine) cover version of Bob Dylan’s song “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” there’s been an explosion of amateur performers on YouTube who have been inspired by Miley and are clearly doing their versions of her version. It seems to be mimicking the trend where thousands of amateurs (not to mention professionals) have taken to singing Adele’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” That song has become, in effect, a modern standard, thanks to all the cover versions. It’s not as if “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” was unknown before Miley Cyrus did it, but it was not anything like a standard, not like certain other Dylan songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Although it’s a beautiful song, with a wonderful tension of sadness and exuberance, there’s a certain lyrical quirkiness to it that probably kept it out of the repertoires of most singers. And by quirkiness I’m really referring to this verse:
Situations have ended sad
Relationships have all been bad
Mine’ve been like Verlaine’s and Rimbaud
But there’s no way I can compare
All those scenes to this affair
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go
The singer is comparing his own history of bad relationships to the two French poets, Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, who had a homosexual affair which ended, more or less, when Verlaine shot Rimbaud (Rimbaud was not badly injured, but Verlaine was sentenced to two years in prison for the act). A lot of singers have probably figured that (1) nobody will know who Verlaine and Rimbaud are and (2) it’s probably better to keep it that way. Continue reading “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”: A new standard?