The Times They Are A-Changin': Bob Dylan Turns Classic Song Into Gay Love Anthem

"Gay" used to mean "happy." Not anymore. And rainbows used to just be rainbows. Now, they're the emblem for the gay community.

So it makes sense that classic songs have been co-opted and altered into gay anthems.

The song “She’s Funny That Way," which was a hit for cowboy singer Gene Austin way back in 1929 and later performed by Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, has been changed by America's famed singer/poet Bob Dylan.

The new version is titled "He's Funny That Way." It's included on six-track EP that also features St. Vincent, Kesha, Valeria June, Ben Gibbard and Kele Okereke.

Kele Okereke covers "My Guy," St. Vincent switches "And Then He Kissed Me" to "And Then She Kissed Me," Valerie June turns "Mad About the Boy" into "Mad About the Girl," Kesha covers Janis Joplin's "I Need a Man to Love" as "I Need a Woman to Love," and Ben Gibbard switches the Beatles' "And I Love Her" to "And I Love Him").

Here are the lyrics from Sinatra's version:

I'm not much to look at, nothin' to see
Just glad I'm livin' and happy to be
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way
I can't save a dollar, ain't worth a cent
She'd never holler, she'd live in a tent
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way
Though she'd love to work and slave for me every day
She'd be so much better off if I went away
But why should I leave her, why should I go?
She'd be unhappy without me, I know
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way
When I hurt her feelin's once in a while
Her only answer is one little smile
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way

Odd choice for a gay anthem.

"If you look at the history of pop music, love songs have predominantly come from one heterosexual perspective," Tom Murphy, a co-producer of Universal Love, told The New York Times. "If we view music as something that brings people together, shouldn't these popular songs be open to everyone?"

To secure the right to perform the songs with altered lyrics, permission was required from the songs' publishers. "The response was completely positive," said Rob Kaplan, the project's executive producer.

Dylan, who does not appear to have spoken out in favour of gay rights in the past, declined to be interviewed. But his choice of song, She's Funny That Way, which has been recorded by Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, gains a wink in its current guise; He's Funny That Way can also be read as an antiquated code for a gay person.

Dylan's warm and wry performance captures the mix of wit and sincerity favoured by songs from the American standards era.

Kaplan said that when he contacted Dylan, he got a very quick yes. "And it wasn't just 'yes, I'll do this,'" he said. "It was 'hey, I have an idea for a song.'"

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