As my interest began to flag a little while watching the good-in-parts but excessively long Hemingway and Gellhorn, a thought occurred to me. In later stages of the film, some of the antics of the two heroes (played by Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman) as they boozed and (in Papa's case) brawled, passionately war reported and tirelessly shagged across the globe occurred in the year Bob Dylan was born.
Dylan's 80th birthday is on May 24. He has used six of those decades to make his own mark on the world. In this mini-series, Dylan at 80, I am looking at covers of some of his great songs.
Here, I offer another choice of my own, Fairport Convention's version of Percy's Song, a damning indictment of the USA's incarceration fetish in which a man blamed for a car crash killing four people is jailed for 99 years.
Percy's inhuman treatment makes some of the more dispiriting demands for blood in the tragic case of Harry Dunn, killed by an American woman who left a military base on the wrong side of the road, seem almost benevolent by comparison.
I declare an unsurprising interest, my unstinting admiration for the singing of the late Sandy Denny. Until I started to research this item, I honestly believed a mighty song had made mightier still when she sang it with Fairport .
It is a divine interpretation and appeared on the 1969 Unhalfbricking album.
But - and I did not start out expecting to write this - Dylan's 1963 original is better still. I love the sparse acoustic accompaniment, guitar and harmonica and the mixture of melancholy, anger and resignation in the vocals. I'll still listen again and again to Sandy and Fairport, with other band members (including, I believe, Iain Matthews though he left to work on a Matthews Southern Comfort album after recording the track) chipping in with hypnotic harmonies and elegant musicianship.
Over at the Salut! Live Facebook, the series has prompted some lively debate on the subject it raises. I shall bring together some pearls of wisdom from Malcolm Dawson for the next instalment.