Worried Dream – Part 4

We’re going to wrap up this series with a look at the final two available performances from Fleetwood Mac.

We’ll also take a look at two later covers of the song.

The first recording comes from a show in San Antonio, Texas, where they were second on a bill to Jethro Tull.  As the openers, they distilled each song to its essence, only stretching out on ‘Rattlesnake Shake / Searching for Madge’ which at twelve minutes, was their longest version (by three minutes), up to that time.

 

Fleetwood Mac

Peter Green: guitar & vocal /

Danny Kirwan: guitar / John McVie: bass /

Mick Fleetwood: drums

Recorded December 12, 1969, Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, TX

Available on: bootleg

 

Worried Dream (B.B. King) (7:23)

https://soundcloud.com/rich-orlando-532653821/1969-fm-municipal-auditorium

In the four weeks between the previous performance and this one, Green has completely rethought his approach to the song.

The long intro, used from the original studio recording on, has been jettisoned; it is Kirwan who plays the first note, a cry in the dark, with Green’s response its echo, bouncing off the walls of an empty room.

Green plays staccato bursts of guitar between the repeated lines of the opening verse giving the number a greater sense of urgency.

For me, this is one of Green’s best vocal performances of the song, as he too utilizes King’s trick of placing intensifiers such as “oh” and “yes” before repeating each line, as if speaking directly to each listener, imploring us to understand.

And then we come to the break; for the next three minutes Green creates a dreamlike, liquid sound.  He is floating; held aloft by the warm breath of his lover as she whispers to him.

Then she stops speaking and he begins to fall; the tone becomes sharper, the bent notes signaling his panic.

What makes this break different from those that came before is his maintaining of the dreamscape; as with his vocal, there is now no need to “raise his voice”.  The number flows with its own internal logic; even when it turns into a nightmare, there is a certainty that he will awaken before he hits the ground.

His eyes open but does not sit bolt upright in the bed; shaken nonetheless, he reaches for the phone to call his baby.

It is performances such as this that make Green fans completists; collecting shows of similar set lists in the hope that one of the songs might be brought to these heights.

 

The six weeks separating these two performances may as well have been six years.

The three months that the band had toured the U.S., hearing and more importantly jamming with groups such as the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band provided the affirmation for Green (not that any was asked for or needed) that the new direction that he was pulling his not always willing band in was not only viable but requisite if he were to continue with the band.

This final performance of the song comes from a show in Germany, four days after the “Munich Incident”.

Fleetwood Mac

Peter Green: guitar & vocal /

Danny Kirwan: guitar / John McVie: bass /

Mick Fleetwood: drums

Recorded March 26, 1970, Liederhalle, Boblingen / Stuttgart West Germany

Available on: bootleg

Worried Dream (B.B. King) (6:34)

https://soundcloud.com/rich-orlando-532653821/1970-fm-bobligen-worried-dream

Green again foregoes the extended intro, but otherwise reverts to the earlier arrangements.  The opening verse is played by him alone, the quick breaks between the lines and the vocal are far more dramatic than those that came before, if not necessarily more effective.

The break is split almost exactly in two, the first half choked tangles of notes and tortured cries, giving way to an exhausted awareness of what he may have said and done, but the thorns are all too apparent beneath the blossoming roses that he now offers.

The transition from the break to the final verse is one of the smoothest that we have but is slightly marred for me by the overwrought vocal.

 

It was two years after this that John the Revelator released their version (reviewed in Part Three) and another two years after that that the next commercially released cover came out.

Little Milton recorded the song under the title ‘Worried Dreamer’ for a 1974 Stax LP “Blues ‘n Soul”.

Little Milton

Little Milton: vocal & guitar /

Lester Snell: piano / Willie Hall: drums /

The Memphis Horns

Released on Blues ‘n Soul (Stax 1974)

Worried Dreamer (5:21)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy5UpNj5wSo

Milton kept close to the King original, but leans more towards the “Soul” side of the spectrum with a declamatory vocal, and support from the Memphis Horns.  Featuring both organ and piano, and of course, Milton’s guitar, it is a crowded soundscape, that for me, leaves no room for any true emotion.

Unlike all the other performances, Milton extends the final verse with repeated shouts for his girl to tell him that the “dream was not true”.  Live, with the band supporting his cries and the audience “witnessing” his “testimony”, egging him on, this may be exciting, but for me, on record, it is simply “show-biz”.

 

Larry Davis (originator of SRV’s signature tune ‘Texas Flood’) recorded the song in 1981.

Larry Davis

Larry Davis: guitar & vocal /

Phil Westmoreland: bass / Johnny Johnson: piano /

Oliver Sain: saxophone / Billy Gayles: drums

Released on Funny Stuff (Rooster Blues 1981)

Worried Dream (5:02)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urwOmeHuTt0

His vocal and to a lesser extent, the arrangement, also lean toward a “Southern Soul” sound, but his dirty guitar tone keeps it rooted in the blues.  After the extended opening (a showcase for his vocals), the words seem to matter little, they are just something to say.  And in marked contrast with Milton’s version, what has been the break on all of the other versions now becomes the outro as well as he simply dispenses with the final verse.

 

The intention here is not to compare these versions to Green’s performances; each artist is taking their own approach to King’s song, but it is notable that only Green aims to isolate and magnify the pain in King’s original.

It is his way of personalizing the emotions of the songs he sings (with his voice and his guitar) that makes him unique.

Green once said that he gave up on playing the blues because, “The blues ended up hurting my soul so I stopped it…”

It is frightening to realize that such beauty was forged in pain.

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