From the “Difficult Listening” files: Sebastian Cabot reads Bob Dylan

Last week there were celebrations of Bob Dylan’s birthday all over the world, and we’re guessing the Hibbing-bred bard didn’t attend a single one. At least, we like to imaging he spent a little time working on his scrap iron sculptures, and otherwise enjoying his peace and quiet.

Music blogs offered no shortage of lists about Dylan’s songs, from the most essential to the most forgettable. Our own list of favorites, casually compiled at the kitchen table over dinner, carried little in common with some of them.

We’re not entirely alone in our love of 80s Dylan (as this tribute album suggests), let alone those 90s and 00s orphans like “Dignity” or “Things Have Changed,” but these aren’t the first songs folks jump to name as favorites. Lists seem to lean heavy on those early classics on which Dylan built his fame, but we just aren’t eager to hear “The Times Are A-Changin'” again. Maybe we’re cynical, or maybe we’ve heard too many Bob Dylan covers. Yeah, we’ve posted one or two in the past, but we’re a little over-Dylan-ed.

sebastian cabot dylan

And then we discovered this masterpiece of syrupy schmaltz, which out-schlocks every 101 Strings or King’s Road-style cover album we’ve ever heard. We sincerely have no idea of Sebastian Cabot was going for a serious presentation (like the Poitier readings of Plato) or camp. This album is not as famous as William Shatner’s The Transformed Man, but just as surreal in that we are uncertain whether or not we should be laughing.

As always, we’re really music fans and not movie fans, so we had no idea who Sebastian Cabot was until we listened to this album. Then we instantly recognized him as Bagheera, the wise black panter from The Jungle Book, which (again, we’re really not movie people) has apparently been re-made. Cabot was great as our favorite character in the Rudyard Kipling story of a boy raised by wolves.

Sebastian Cabot shouldn’t be judged by this single performance, nor should Bob Dylan, who we like to imagine has a secret collection of Dylan covers on shelves in his basement. And it’s really not our place to judge — if this album speaks to you, that’s what really matters. We can’t get past how mcuh Cabot sounds like Waren “The Ape” Demontague.


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