Pressing on with Liam Ó Maonlaí and Glen Hansard

April 2, 2014


A new tribute album recently came out, Bob Dylan in the 80s: Volume One, celebrating what everyone considers to be Bob Dylan’s worst era in music. I don’t disagree, except it’s all relative: it’s still Dylan, so even at his worst he never fails to be interesting. And if you cherry-pick Dylan’s best work from that decade, it compares favorably to his best from any other decade.

One highlight of the album—which would be a highlight of any conceivable album—is Glen Hansard’s cover of “Pressing On,” a straightforward gospel song from Dylan’s Saved album. While it’s not available online in a format that I can post here, I found this YouTube performance of Hansard backing up fellow Irishman Liam Ó Maonlaí, who used to sing in a band called Hothouse Flowers.

In his intro, Ó Maonlaí says that “Christian Bale, God help us, tried to emulate it on a film,” referring to the fictionalized movie about Dylan, I’m Not There. Christian Bale played the gospel-era version of Dylan and performed this song—although the singing was overdubbed by John Doe of X. Ó Maonlaí does a much better version.

The reference is Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”


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