Dignity (Bob Dylan song)
|Song by Bob Dylan from the album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume 3|
|Released||November 15, 1994|
"Dignity" is a song by Bob Dylan, first released on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume 3 in 1994. It was recorded during the Oh Mercy studio sessions but didn't make it on to the album. The version released on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume 3 was remixed and overdubbed by Brendan O'Brien (who also played organ on the song on MTV Unplugged the same year). A new rhythm track was recorded and electric guitar and organ were added to the mix. The slide guitar from the original mix was mixed out.
The difficulties recording the song during the Oh Mercy sessions are described by Dylan in his autobiography, Chronicles, Vol 1. It was originally recorded with Dylan accompanied by Brian Stoltz and Willie Green. Though they managed to complete a polished performance, producer Daniel Lanois suggested something more ambitious with a Cajun band. Curious to see what Lanois had in mind, Dylan agreed to recut the song. The next evening, a session was held with Rockin' Dopsie and His Cajun Band, but the results were disastrous. The group experimented with different keys and tempos, but according to Dylan, everyone was frustrated with the results.
Dylan still preferred the original version recorded the previous day, but neither he nor Lanois considered it finished. As the session continued into the early morning hours, the group gave up and began playing old standards like "Jambalaya", "Your Cheatin' Heart", and "There Stands the Glass". The next day, they listened to every take of "Dignity" recorded with Dopsie and his band, and all of them were rejected. "Whatever promise Dan had seen in the song was beaten into a bloody mess", Dylan recalled. "Where we had started from, we'd never gotten back to, a fishing expedition gone nowhere. In no take did we ever turn back the clock. We just kept winding it. Every take another ball of confusion." "Dignity" was set aside, never to be revisited for the remainder of the sessions.
Live versions of the song can be heard on Live 1961-2000: Thirty-Nine Years of Great Concert Performances and MTV Unplugged. A demo-version of the song was included as part of a six-song sampler in promo editions of Chronicles Vol. 1. This demo version along with another version of the song were later released on Dylan's The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs in 2008.
The song was covered, with some modified lyrics, by R&B artist Mozez on his upcoming album The Absolute.
A federal plagiarism lawsuit was filed against Bob Dylan and Sony Records in 1995 by James Damiano; among the songs cited in the suit was "Dignity". The suit was dismissed in 1997, with the judge stating "there is no substantial similarity in the structure, instrumentation or melody of the two songs." An appeal was filed by Damiano and was dismissed in 1998.
- Dylan, B., (2004), Chronicles: Volume One. Simon & Schuster. P. 186
- Dylan, B., (2004), Chronicles: Volume One. Simon & Schuster. P. 191