There’s nothing quite like falling in love with a song. On the first listen it may be some line that rings true or a note that sings out and wraps itself around you like a winter coat. On the second listen, it may be the narrative starting to take hold or the way you can almost anticipate the rise and fall of the melody. On the third listen the romance really begins, the words form on the tip of your tongue and the harmony is there for the taking. At least, that’s how it is for me. My latest song infatuation is extra special because there are a couple of versions of it lying about it that I’m equally obsessed with.
‘Daddy, You’ve Been On My Mind’ first came to life as a ‘Mama, You Been On My Mind’, a discarded out-take from Bob Dylan’s 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan. Although it hit the reject pile for Dylan, Joan Baez ran with it and made it a commercial success. Judy Collins followed suit, performing it on television for Pete Seeger. And a very young Linda Ronstadt reworked it as ‘Baby, You’ve Been On My Mind’ for her 1969 album Hand Sown… Home Grown.
Of course each version has a special kind of intensity. For me, you can’t beat the way Baez sings the word ‘flat’ in the first line of her version. That alone makes it my favourite. But when Judy finger picks the shit out of it for Seeger, you can see exactly why giving up classical piano for a folk career wasn’t a bad thing. And Linda, doe-eyed Linda, well no-one sings a heartache with quite as much intensity. Linda also sings it on the beach wearing tiny shorts. Win.