While the current health crisis continues to disrupt how fans enjoy music, the Far Out ‘From The Vault‘ section has section has allowed a momentary slice of nostalgic entertainment as we search for new ways to find a sonic fix during this period of uncertain flux. Here, we revisit the time Laura Marling added new life to a Bob Dylan classic.
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.”
While a countless number of iconic artists have attempted to put their own spin on the track, Marling covered the song for the season four finale of Peaky Blinders and did so with her typically unique imagination, adding a new dimension to a track that has secured itself in the annals of music greats. “He spoke to so many people in such a brilliantly simple way that anyone could understand it,” she once said of Dylan, adding: “It’s important to be accessible – you can’t be too far left field, otherwise you’re shooting yourself in the foot.”
Dylan’s imagery is perhaps never more vivid than in this song, the musician taking his descriptive lyrical content to new lengths. 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.
He added: “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.”
For now, listen to Marling’s rolling rework of the Dylan classic.