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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 358
Wed, Jan 08, 2013

“If Not For You”
Bob Dylan; George Harrison

1970

“♫ If not
for you/ Babe,
I couldn’t find
the door/ couldn’t
even see the
floor/ I’d be
sad and blue
If not for
you
♫”

Yesterday, I watched former United States Women’s World Cup Coach Pia Sundhage, literally stole the show, accepting the award for FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year when she said, “I look at Alex [Morgan] and Abby [Wambach] and all your teammates I have only one thing to say…” as she sang a moving acapella rendition of Dylan’s “If Not For You” to her players at FIFA’s Ballon D’Or ceremonies.

It was beautifully, touching and imperfect but that took guts to sing in front of the whole soccer governing body. Somewhere Dylan is grinning.

According to Clinton Heylin’s Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973, Dylan said he wrote “If Not For You,” “…thinking about my wife.” Dylan described this New Morning cut as “It seemed simple enough, sort of Tex-Mex… [but] it came off kind of folky.” It seems like Dylan was leery of returning to his protest folk song day of old.

Being a Beatles fan, I first heard of “If Not For You” on George’s All Things Must Pass LP. No surprise, I prefer Harrison’s to Dylan’s New Morning version. While Dylan tries to soften the romantic edges in his rendition, George brings this glowing acoustic flavored lovely sunshine to “If Not For You.”

Although, I do believe Simon Leng said it best in his book While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison, when he wrote, “Dylan appeared to be aiming for spontaneity rather than polish on New Morning, while the final All Things Must Pass version is a gleaming pop creation. [George’s] sound is seductive, soft and light…”

Regardless if you love the charming spontaneity of Dylan’s original or luscious seduction of Harrison’s pop treasure, former USWNT coach Pia Sundhage reminded us of the beauty of this Bob Dylan penned classic. Today, I offer this glorious song to an even more memorable woman; I dedicate “If Not For You” to my lovely wife. “♫ I’d be lost if not for you ♫”


Here’s Dylan’s album version from New Morning, “If Not For You:”

Here’s a rare, rehearsal outtake from Concert for Bangladesh with Dylan and Harrison crooning “If Not For You” as an acoustic duet:

Here’s my favorite from All Things Must Pass, George Harrison’s “If Not For You:”

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