Previously a vinyl-only release, on January 8th two rare covers by David Bowie were finally put onto streaming services. One is a cover of John Lennon‘s “Mother”, and while perfectly good, it’s his cover of “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven”, a deep cut off of Bob Dylan‘s Time Out of Mind, that is truly stunning.
Dylan’s original shuffles along with a casual country lilt, and sounds as if he was singing it with a sly grin the entire time. Maybe it’s because we lost him five years ago, but Bowie’s version takes the song to new emotional levels. The stark synth line and sparser production let Bowie’s vocals take center stage. And it’s a superb vocal performance; showcasing vulnerability and hope that transforms the country song into something akin to a New Wave Gospel hybrid. It grows increasingly powerful as it unfurls over six minutes, hitting the heart with devastating efficiency.
Experience this masterful interpretation of the song here: