Sinatra recorded this religious song in 1964.  It was the theme song of the movie The Cardinal (which marked the last screen appearance of Dorothy Gish).  Dylan has recorded it for his upcoming album of songs associated with Sinatra, Shadows In the Night.  You can stream Dylan’s version on NPR here.

Sinatra’s version, expertly sung as it is, is not convincing as as an expression of humility and faith.  Sinatra was capable of putting across religious songs convincingly, as his Capitol Christmas album shows, but his heart doesn’t seem to be in it here.  The somewhat bombastic orchestral arrangement doesn’t help.

Dylan’s version, with its creaky vocal and small-ensemble arrangement featuring steel guitar, is profound, heartbreaking.



. . . courtesy of my friend Laura Leivick.

The soundtrack album from the 1950 Broadway production, issued in 1954. Bob Dylan said that listening to Lotte Lenya’s performance of “Pirate Jenny” changed his idea of what a song could be.  You can see why — it’s startling and chilling and brilliant.

Click on the image to enlarge.