Have You Heard? – (20) “If Not For You” by Bob Dylan, Olivia Newton-John… and what they spawned!

I was listening to my iPod on shuffle tonight as I cooked dinner, and on came “If Not For You” by Bob Dylan. It’s from one of his post motorbike crash country albums of the late sixties/ early seventies, “New Morning”. It’s a nice song, not amazing, but good. But it reminded me that I first heard it sung by none other than Olivia Newton-John, an Australian folk singer who went on to greater things as the co-star of the film “Grease” with John Travolta. She also sang “Take Me Home Country Roads”, which became a bit of a Euro-disco hit in recent times. Bryan Ferry sang ‘If Not For You’ on his Dylan covers album, “Dylanesque”, too. Sadly there is no record of him covering “Take Me Home Country Roads” in a reggae/dance style!

So many songs spinning through my head!

Starting with Bob’s original If Not for You from “New Morning”. (click on the title)

But I first heard the song as a twelve year old on Top of the Pops, by the lovely Olivia. Steel guitars to the fore.  Influenced I think by another version, by George Harrison. This video is from Australia, but it’s similar to  Top of the Pops.

A few years later Olivia was transformed, in “Grease”.  At the time it seemed one of the most unlikely makeovers. But a good one!

Before “Grease” her other big hit was ‘Take Me Home Country Roads”.

This was originally by John Denver. I am not going there! But I did like the fact that it was eventually turned into a Eurodisco song, which I heard on the beach at my favourite place, Calagogo, on the Costa Brava, in Spain. By the Hermes House Band, who I think are from Holland.

The remix is even better!

So many songs spawned by a snippet of Bob Dylan! Let’s at least end on another cover of ‘If Not For You”, this time by the front man of Roxy Music, the very great Bryan Ferry.

If we had a vote, I think I know which of these videos would win though…

About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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6 Responses to Have You Heard? – (20) “If Not For You” by Bob Dylan, Olivia Newton-John… and what they spawned!

  1. Enjoyable post! Olivia’s so cute. Brian Ferry breaks my heart.

  2. I like the George Harrison version myself…

  3. Rick says:

    I had never heard those versions before, but I like them a lot.

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