My Top 1000 Songs #447: Queen Jane Approximately
As with many (most?) of the Bob Dylan tracks on the list, I'm more partial to the covers than the original, being more of a fan of Dylan as songwriter than singer. In this case, it was the Grateful Dead that triggered my devotion to this particular track, a surprisingly heartfelt, moving love song off 1965's Highway 61 Revisited with an endlessly infectious refrain. (Can anyone hear that "Won't you come see me, Queen Jane" line and not find themselves singing it in their head for hours and hours?) It became a live staple for the Dead in the late 80s and 90s, when I was seeing them pretty regularly, and though they had a number of Dylan songs in the repertoire ("Stuck Inside of Mobile..." is another Dylan favorite given new life by the band), "Queen Jane" is probably the one best suited to their particular groove. While I tend to lean towards the Garcia tracks, Bob Weir really made this his own, and it was one of the times I thoroughly welcomed Bobby's move to the mic.
That said, I really love Dylan's original as well. I sometimes find the inherent melodies in his songs are better captured by others, but he offers a tuneful, emotional delivery on the Highway studio recording that still captivates.
The Grateful Dead in 1989:More recently, Emma Swift (joined by Robyn Hitchcock) gave the tune a gorgeous makeover on her 2020 Dylan tribute Blonde On The Tracks.Lucinda Williams, from her own recent Dylan tribute:Bob himself, backed by the Dead in 1987: