Skip To Content
The Schmooze

Listen To Bob Dylan Reimagine A Classic Ballad As A Gay Love Song

Bob Dylan is a little gay and a little corporate these days. Doesn’t sound much like the Robert Zimmerman you know and love to be confounded by? Well, he’s funny that way.

On a new collaboration, “Universal Love,” Dylan joins artists including Kesha and St. Vincent in reworking classic love songs so that each singer is referring to a same-sex lover. Kele Okereke, the male lead singer of the band Bloc Party, recorded The Temptations’ “My Girl” as “My Guy.” Ben Gibbard of “Death Cab For Cutie” sweetly sang “And I Love Him,” a new classic The Beatles would surely approve of. And Dylan, his soothing, gravelly voice underscored by piano, sang Billie Holiday’s standard as “He’s Funny That Way.”

These days, where there goes celebrities and mild activism, there goes big business. “Universal Love: Wedding Songs Reimagined” is a project by MGM Resorts International to promote the hospitality group’s wedding business to LGBT couples. Of the 15 MGM resorts in Las Vegas, the company’s CEO Jim Murren told the New York Times, 20 to 30 percent of wedding venue bookings are for gay couples.

Rob Kaplan, the executive producer behind the project, allowed artists to choose tracks to cover. Country and blues singer Valerie June elected to recast Noel Coward’s “Mad About The Boy,” which was denied release in 1932 when Coward recorded his own cover of it, because of anti-gay prejudice. Changing the pronoun to “girl” is subversive for June, who told the Times she was a guest at a gay wedding for the first time last year, when her cousin wed. “It brings the song full circle to know that it was written by a gay man who meant every single word of ‘Mad About the Boy,’” she said.

No need here for tired remarks about how “time’s are a changin’” — love was always “universal.” It was true before it was profitable. Love’s funny that way.

Jenny Singer is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.