No, not really. Its such a majestic, mysterious song that to do it justice requires a concentration and focus and angled pitch of delivery from Dylan that he hasn't been able to muster since the mid 70s. Call me a song snob, but virtually all NET 'Visions' make me feel Bob is spitting on his iconic creation. He did do it acoustically in mid '95 and I thought that version had promise, but he never took it where it needed to go.
I stick to the '66 versions - doesn't get better than this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NacOD8giFAY
with the odd foray into '76 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0bT75elcdE-
rubbish sound but romantic as all hell)
You are now the third ER-member who has told me in the last couple of days that the ’66 versions of “Visions of Johanna” are the best. I am really starting to think that I am probably deaf because I do not see (or hear) the magnificence of these performances. I have tried a couple of times, but I simply cannot relate to the supposed greatness of the ’66 tour at all. On the one hand, Dylan reduces the musical component of this song significantly. I mean, his sparse use of the guitar does obviously not create a rich tapestry of sound, right? Thus, the vocals come to the fore and are more important, and so far, that is completely fine with me. Actually, I welcome that. However, I do not consider Dylan’s vocals in these performances to be as great as everyone says. To me it seems as if a stoned guy (no offense, Bob!) halfheartedly mumbles and talks his way through the lyrics, just to randomly over-pronounce every other word. I mean, why is it necessary to lengthen random syllables? Why does he have to sing, “He speaks of a farewell kiss to meeeeeeeeeeeeee”? Apparently many people like that. For me, however, this exaggerated way of pronouncing certain words ruins the entire atmosphere of the song.
I know the ’76 Rolling Thunder version of „Visions“ which you have posted. However, every time I listen to it, I ask myself, “Why does he have to scream certain phrases?” … “Little boy lost, he takes himself sOOOO SEEEEERIOUSLYYYYYYY” … meh. Is that what you consider "romantic as all hell"? By the way, (and that’s not Dylan’s fault), the constant mumbling coming from the audience does not make this performance any better. Seriously, if you are at a concert, shut up during the songs, for crying out loud!
The 1995 acoustic version of “Visions” from Philly is nice though. Could be better, could be worse, but all in all, it is all right.
Of course the 2001 versions are not the ideal solution either. The singing could be better indeed. So far I have only listened to the Stirling and Liverpool shows and every time he screws up some lines. However, at least there is some nice guitar playing by Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell which compensates for these flaws.