In the interests of writing something about each and every Dylan single, I have to return to his cover of “A Fool Such As I”, which Columbia released against his wishes as the only single from Dylan.
Written in 1952, this was a hit for Hank Snow when Dylan was young, and that is quite possibly where Dylan would have first heard it. Of course, it was a huge hit for Elvis in 1959, so he could not have possibly been unaware of that version.
He recorded a sort of lame version of the song as part of The Basement Tapes (which can be found on A Tree With Roots), and then again in April 1969 as part of the recording for Nashville Skyline, before Columbia tossed it onto Dylan four years later.
This is a smooth, poppy, over-produced version of Dylan with horns and back-up singers. It would be a good version of the song for someone, but that someone is not Bob Dylan. In some ways it anticipates his work from the late-1970s and even mid-1980s. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
In Europe, Dylan was released as Dylan – A Fool Such As I, which probably accurately reflected Dylan’s attitude for not locking down his rights better and allowing his former label to abuse him as it did by putting this out.
The song peaked at number fifty-five on the US charts. That was probably higher than I would have guessed. Even the sleeve for the single was hideous. “Lily of the Valley” is also a pretty cruel joke a b-side.
Here’s the great Hank Snow: