Thursday, December 09, 2010


Masked and anonymous, nobody knows who sang "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window" and "Positively 4th Street" imitating Bob on budget 45rpm EP's.

The idea back in the late 50's and up to the mid-60's, was that for the price of ONE hit song by the original artist, you could get SIX hit songs by…nobodies. Labels such as Tops, Promenade, Song Hits, etc. prospered. Sometimes the labels gave a credit to the unknown vocalist, probably on the theory that you didn't even know the name of the one-shot wonder who had suddenly scored a Top Ten hit. In other cases, where the six songs were all by very famous original artists, the label simply didn't list the singer, hoping to trick people into believing they were getting the original artist.

The side of Hit Parader #39's 45 rpm (which opened with "Michelle," then "Tell Me Why" and then "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window") simply credited the song to Bob Dylan. Meaning as author, not as singer. Heh heh.
Song Hits #38 opened one side with "Get Off Of My Cloud" then "Positively 4th Street" and "Run Baby Run." Once again, nothing about who was doing the actual singing.

In all cases, only the song composers were listed. "Positively 4th Street" was a logical choice for cheapie exploitation at the time. The follow-up to Bob's "Like a Rolling Stone," it slipped into the Top 10 according to both Billboard and Cash Box. "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window" wasn't nearly as successful, topping out at 58 at both Billboard and Cash Box.

The charts have always been hit and miss with Dylan singles. On Billboard, "I Threw It All Away" languished at 85, "Watching the River Flow" missed the Top 40, "Tangled Up In Blue" missed the Top 30, (as did "Hurricane") and "Gotta Serve Somebody" didn't make the Top 20. However Bob reached #12 for "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and got to #20 for "I Want You," but by then, sophisticated listeners weren't interested in knock-offs and the once-bustling industry for budget labels offering quantity over quality, went bust. However...thanks to "budget" download companies like eMusic, there are now musicians who specialize in knocking off oldies. Kids who have no idea who originally did "Monster Mash" can surf eMusic, listen to 30 seconds of something that sounds like the real thing, and download it over the original. What was that Paul Simon lyric..."The music suffers/The music business thrives."

OBSCURE BOB DYLAN COVER VERSIONS: Positively 4th Street and Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window Instant download or listen on line. No capcha codes, wait times or money extortion.

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