Revisit Bryan Ferry’s feverish live cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ from 1977
There are few people who can hold themselves through a cover of an original song as Bryan Ferry can. Following his departure from the iconic glam rock outfit Roxy Music, the singer took himself down a familiar route for rock singer legends—the elusive cover. For Ferry, it meant going through the treasure trove of rock’s past for his 1973 album These Foolish Things. One of the standout moments of the album was his fiery big band cover of Bob Dylan’s classic ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’.
Featured on Dylan’s debut album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the song has gone down in history as one of Bob Dylan’s best but it is given new life on Ferry’s 1973 recording. While putting on These Foolish Things and listening to Ferry’s recording can brighten up any day, take your time today to see his feverish live performance of the track from 1977 below.
Arguably one of Bob Dylan’s most beloved songs of all time, the singer was only 21-years-old when he wrote the number. Debuted in the smoky Gaslight Cafe in New York, Village performer Peter Blankfield, who was there, recalled: “He put out these pieces of loose-leaf paper ripped out of a spiral notebook. And he starts singing [‘Hard Rain’] … He finished singing it, and no one could say anything. The length of it, the episodic sense of it. Every line kept building and bursting”
Reading through like a prophetic novel, Dylan’s imagery is perhaps never more vivid than here. In fact, they were so vivid that the track was often misaligned to the Nuclear Disarmament effort, suggesting the ‘hard rain’ in question was atomic. “No, it’s not atomic rain, it’s just a hard rain. It isn’t the fallout rain,” reflected Dylan with Studs Terkel at the time. “I mean some sort of end that’s just gotta happen… In the last verse, when I say, ‘the pellets of poison are flooding the waters’, that means all the lies that people get told on their radios and in their newspapers.”
If it was about the forthcoming end of the world, judging by Ferry’s cover, it would arrive with the four horns-men of the apocalypse as he delivers a simply searing performance of the timeless song. During the performance below, which comes complete with false endings and band introductions like any crooning bop should, Ferry is every bit the icon.
As well as an all-star band full of his Roxy Music chums, Ferry brings with him to this performance and undoubted presence and charisma. He commands the stage, the screen and your eyes watching it and what’s more impressive, he also sings like a smooth-talking, cigarette-smoking angel too.
If you’re looking for a pick-me-up then this is it, Bryan Ferry feverish performance of Bob Dylan song ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ live in 1977.