Nico - I'll Keep It With Mine Rainer Maria - I'll Keep It With Mine Page France - I'll Keep It With Mine
I've always been impressed with people who can write songs, and especially those songwriters who seem to just have songs flowing out of them constantly; those two-album-a-year kind of songwriters. And the kind of prolific songwriters who have such an abundance of great songs that even their outtake throway songs become classics? Well that seems to be a category where Bob Dylan stands alone. "I'll Keep It With Mine" is a nice little tune, written by Dylan around the Another Side
period where the personal was starting to outweigh the political in his work. It would have fit nice and snug on that album, next to something like "To Ramona", but unfortunately he didn't bother to record it until the Bringing It All Back Home
sessions and obviously by that time he was about a million miles and a trip on a magic swirling ship beyond such a simple and straightforward song.
But, according to legend (and to Wikipedia) he never really wrote it for himself anyway, it was intended for Nico. But Nico wasn't a recording artist in 1964 so first dibs on the song slipped through her fingers. (Although, whether Nico ever really became a recording "artist" is debatable. But, hey, while I'm in the parenthesis here - how excited are you to see Anakin Skywalker play Bob Dylan in that Factory Girl
movie?) Judy "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" Collins ended up being the first person to commercially release the song; her version is pretty forgettable, but somehow the song went on to attain cool-unknown-Dylan song status and seems like the song you cover if you're a hip indie band who wants to let people know that you still think Dylan is god and everything, but you're not a fat ad exec with a ponytail and a minivan who once wrote a paper in college about the transcendental message behind "Just Like A Woman". By covering "I'll Keep It With Mine" you're basically letting people know that your Bob Dylan is better than their Bob Dylan.
What can I say about the Nico version, from 1967's Chelsea Girl
? You know what she sounds like, there's no surprises here: she sings like a tone deaf, transexual, German horse. You either hate that or you find it so odd that it's kind of endearing. If you're of the latter persuasion and you're not familiar with her "I'll Keep It With Mine" it's definitely worth a listen. I don't usually give a shit about things like guitar tone, but I wish I could make my guitar sound exactly like this record. And the violins are killing it on this track.
If you're looking for a similarily Velvety but less braying version of "I'll Keep It With Mine", the Rainer Maria cover practically out-Velvets the Velvet Underground in the best possible way. Their whole new record, Catastrophe Keeps Us Together
, captures that hypnotic chanteuse vibe perfectly but with a shimmering pop sense that keeps it from getting boring. I think I was misinformed somewhere along the way that this band was "emo". Whoever told me that was an asshole. Props to Jeff for burning this for me.
"I'll Keep It With Mine" has been covered by a lot more bands than I'm covering in this post, everyone from Fairport Convention to a late-80s throat-cancer-voice Marianne Faithfull. (80s as in the decade, not her age. She was about a thousand years old when she recorded it.) But, other than the actual Dylan outtake, the one on the Bootleg Series not the one on Biograph
, my favorite version of the song is an semi-unreleased bedroom recording by Page France. After the lush instrumentation of the Nico and Rainer Maria versions, it's nice to hear just a guy and a softly strummed acoustic strip the song down to its barest essentials. You can forget all the hipster cool points, all the unreleased outtake mystique; all Page France cares about is that this is a great fucking song. Saying things like someone's got more talent in his pinkie finger than you've got in you whole body is a lame cliche, but it's a fitting one here. Bob Dylan's got better dinner table scraps of songs than a lot of bands' entire catalogues.
to buy Chelsea Girl
to buy Catastrophe Keeps Us Together
to check out Page France on Myspace.)