Letter Q- Queen Jane Approximately -The Four Seasons

This year for the 2023 A-Z Blog Challenge, I’m going to begin by listing a song or musical subject, and then see how fast and how far I can completely blow up my own “stream of consciousness,” and head “off the reservation,” by linking every real, and “Zulu Delta-imagined” fact, piece of music trivia, or not so apparent connection to what is racing around my head to that song in an “unstructured, graffiti-like” format. Complete and utter nonsense! Turn it up and turn it on, but as Van “The Man” Morrison said…….”It’s already turned on!”

Bob Dylan wrote “Queen Jane Approximately” in 1965.

Just such a cool title. I really like Bob Dylan.

I’ve heard Bob’s version.

I don’t really like it. Blasphemy you say? It happens………….

I first heard The Four Seasons version of Queen Jane Approximately on WFMU; “The Greatest Freeform Radio Station On The Planet. https://wfmu.org

It was played on the Michael Shelly show. https://wfmu.org/playlists/SH

As some might agree, when the Four Seasons recorded the song, it may have been an attempt by the record company to cash in on the huge popularity and stardom of Bob Dylan with a band whose own popularity and stardom had faded. On the WFMU show, it was played as almost a “tongue and cheek,” novelty; kind of like William Shatner’s song Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. 

My point of view? 

It was AWESOME! I mean really awesome. I love the tempo, the sound of Frankie Valli, and the drum beat. Did I tell you I love everything about this song?

Well I do!

I like to joke, but not joke, to others that as much as I love Bob Dylan, I am not a big fan of his live recordings and the brilliance of his 30th Anniversary Album (or as Neil Young called it; “Bobfest!) is that Dylan “barley sings or plays at all.” This is not entirely fair to Bob because the process of recording is “live” and so that still makes Bob great!

Gathering ideas for this blog series, I came across another cover of a Bob Dylan song I stumbled across a few years ago; “If You Gotta Go, Go Now.” This song never appears on any of Dylan’s major albums.

The cover was released in 1965 as well. The coolest part of this cover was that it was attempted to be played and sung in a “French/Cajun” theme.

Not being fluid in French, I thought the song was “Garden Party” by Ricky Nelson the first time I heard it.

The cover was by the Fairport Convention and the song was “Si Tu Dois Partir.” When I first heard it, I had never heard the Dylan original, but I also loved this version. To me, besides the Cajun flair, is the sound in the recording at the time stamp of 1 minute and 56 seconds (1:56). It is the unexpected sound of a stack of chairs falling over. To me, it just sounded like it was supposed to be there!

That’s that sound of “recording magic” that seems to be lost in the “sterilized and serious digital” world. 

Peter Mulvey was a singer/songwriter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin (as were Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans) but lived in Boston Massachusetts for many years. Peter made a living back then by singing and recording “live” down in the subway stations of the MBTA; “The T.” 

On his live album “Ten Thousand Mornings,” you can often hear more of that “music magic” in the recordings; the sound of the actual train in the back ground, people dropping change into his guitar case, and Peter pausing the song to say “thank you.” 

To me, cool covers, odd sound effects, and unexpected bumps in a recording session is what makes recorded music so fun and exciting to discover.

5 thoughts on “Letter Q- Queen Jane Approximately -The Four Seasons

  1. Dylan’s “Queen Jane” [Baez] appeared on the seminal ’65 album when Bob broke from the folk movement – “Johnny’s in the basement, mixin’ up the medicine, I’m on the pavement, thinkin’ about the government.” I’m afraid I’ll never warm up to a cover of that song, even though Frankie Valli – like me – is a Newark native! [This coming from a guy who was totally smitten with “cover king” Trini Lopez around that same time, but I digress.] FYI: “If You Got To Go” was on Bob’s very first Bootleg Series release in 1991; there are almost 20 albums in that Series now, and they are definitely a great source for obscure Dylan gems. As ever, thanks for the memories, ZD!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comments John! Again, you made me curious so I went to look for some more information. I found this gem; in 1965 Dylan told a journalist that Queen Jane was actually a man! That’s not what really interested me….the journalist was Nora Ephron……..the same Nora who wrote the movies….Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Julie & Julia. Fascinating!
      Covers can be a tricky business. Cake doing “I will survive” is awesome, but others doing covers wind up sounding like Weird Al Yankovic-Crap. BTW. I just found this video

      What do you think of “The New Basement Tapes?”


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