At the beginning of pandemic-related lockdowns, the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde and James Walbourne felt inspired by the surprise release of Bob Dylan’s “Murder Most Foul” and decided to cover some of their favorite Dylan songs. The latest installment of their Dylan Lockdown Series is their take on “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight,” which appeared on his 1983 album, Infidels.
The original track found Dylan trying to avoid an argument with his girlfriend, pleading with her to give him another chance and pitching woo like “You were so fine, Clark Gable would have fell at your feet” over a dense, very Eighties-sounding production with loud drums and reggae-ish guitar. Hynde and Walbourne, the Pretenders’ lead guitarist, play it acoustic and rootsier, more akin to “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” or a Pretenders torch song than anything on Infidels. Hynde makes it sound personal; lines like “I wish I’d have been a doctor … Maybe I’d have done some good in the world instead of burning every bridge I crossed” cut deep.
Hynde and Walbourne previously covered Dylan’s “Standing in the Doorway,” “Love Minus Zero,” “Blind Willie McTell,” and several other songs. In the meantime, they have also been teasing the release of the upcoming Pretenders album, Hate for Sale, with videos for their own original songs, “The Buzz,” “Hate for Sale,” and “You Can’t Hurt a Fool.” The record was originally supposed to come out in May, but once the pandemic started shutdowns, its release was delayed; it’s now coming out on Friday.