Saturday, November 7, 2015

Two Trains Runnin'

Time to give up the
Train women and try driving
A hot car woman.

This is a Muddy Waters song. Here's what's going on:
1. Two trains run in this direction, with one leaving at midnight and the other at dawn. (This is not a math problem)
2. These trains are symbols for women, as you would expect in a blues song. One of these trains appears to be another man's wife.
3. He's going to find another woman who rides like a Cadillac car. Indeed, woman as car. Another blues invention.
4. The woman he's currently with has put him on top of the shelf.

Sittin' on Top of the World

You might think I care
That you left me. Believe me,
I can't be bothered.

This is a blues chestnut from the Mississippi Sheiks, recorded for the first time in 1930. It's about a guy who can't be bothered that his girlfriend left him. Why

1. Can get a woman as quickly as she can get a man.
2. He's not the begging kind so he won't ask for her back.
3. He's not into worrying or craving in vain.
4. He has plenty of work to do anyway.

The Lonesome River

Pledge love eternal,
And you'll soon discover it
Probably won't last.

This is a song by Ralph and Carter Stanley, one of those high-and-lonesome bluegrass tunes about abandoned love.

In short:
He sits on the river banks, accompanied by the lonely wind and the high water. He's too lonely to cry and has no one to love or kiss him goodnight because the woman he loves left him this morning. Once they swore to each other that they would stay together and be happy forever. Then she fell in love with someone else.

Floater (Too Much to Ask)

When you get this old,
You get less sentimental
About everything.

"Floater (Too Much to Ask)" is one of those old-fashioned songs that could have come out 80 years ago, thought he lyrics are decidedly Dylanesque and modern. The song contains 16 verses, none of which seem to relate to each other, other than a recurring reference to living like a contrarian when people try to get the singer to do one thing or another. The title comes from the last verse when Dylan observes that it's not easy to kick someone out (of your home, I guess), and that it's unpleasant task. Sometimes, he says, someone wnats you to give something up, and even if they cry about it, "it's too much to ask."

Other contrary stuff in the song:
- Sometimes old men around here get on bad terms with the young men, but age doesn't mean anything anyway.
- One of the boss's hangers-on tries to bully you and inspire you with fear, but it has the opposite effect.
- His father is like a feudal lord and has more lives than a cat. He's never argued once with his wife, and as Dylan says, "Things come alive or they fall flat."
- Romeo tells Juliet her complexion makes her look old. Juliet replies: "Shove off if it bothers you so much."
- Bob says that if you interfere with him or cross him, your life could be in danger. He's not as cool or forgiving as he sounds, he says.

There are other verses that say other things, but it feels like this is the right way to go with the haiku.

Cry a While

My tear supply's done.
You have plenty yet to shed.
Time to make you cry.

You made him cry, now it's your turn. That's the message that ends every verse of this song, though the little stories that precede the refrain are an intriguing display of the Dylan rhyme machine at work.

1. He has to visit a "nasty, dirty, double-crossin', backstabbin' phony" named Mr. Goldsmith, and he did it just for her. But all she gave him was a smile.
2. He's a union man and he's going to set you straight.
3. He feels like a fighting rooster, pretty good in fact. He goes the extra mile when he goes to church each day.
4. He heard such a loud noise through the walls across the alley. It must have been "Don Pasquale making a 2 a.m. booty call." Breaking his trusting heart was just your style. Your turn to cry a while.
5. Some people have no heart or soul. He has both. He's been crying for you, but now it's your turn.
6. He's going to buy himself some whiskey. He plans to die before he can turn senile.
7. You bet on the wrong horse. He always said you'd be sorry. He might kill you, so he'll need a good lawyer for the trial.

Can't Escape From You

Can't Escape From You -

I can’t tell if I
Love you or hate you. One thing
I know: I miss you.

Here's another song of trains, shadows, sunlight, loss, the memory of sweet days and the reality of the cold present. The singer goes through several kinds of lament for the former, and obviously current object of desire.

1. Hope rides away on a train. Joy and love have faded. Hills dark, falling stars. He pretends he's not sad, but his heart's miles away. He can't escape from her memory.
2. Why does he suffer? He did no wrong.
3. She didn't behave well. She wasted her power, withered like a flower, played the fool. She tried to bring him down. He's not sad or sorry like he said he was before.
4. Actually, he IS sorry. They should have lasted forever, they had lovely days together, they had good times. Now she's with someone else, God knows who, and still, he can't escape from you.

Ballad of Donald White

I steal and murder
You made me this way. Shoulda
kept me in prison.

Dylan fans will recognize the tune that formed the basis of “I Pity the Poor Immigrant” six years after he performed this song. “The Ballad of Donald White” is a song of societal ills too, but in a different vein. Ol’ Donald sings the sad story of his life just before he hangs for murder. He came from Kansas, ended up in Seattle and everywhere he went he was an anti-social loser who couldn’t fit in. He had no education and stole to support himself. He wound up in jail where, rather like some of Jean Genet’s homosexual criminals, he found his real home. Trouble is, the jails and institutions were too crowded so he was set free. He begged to go back where he felt he belonged, but no one would incarcerate him without reason so he killed a man on Christmas Eve 1959. Naturally, they took him back, but only for a short stay. Then they hanged him. Don’s last question was whether “boys that come down the road like me, Are they enemies or victims of your society?”

Saturday, September 12, 2015

You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

He loves you so much,
He'll be lonely when you go.
Maybe change your plans.

"You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" is the last song on the first side of the 1975 album "Blood on the Tracks." You could see it as a breakup song or maybe even a song about death. Appearing amidst the carnage of broken love that's splattered all over this album, it carries at its heart a strange hope, as if love's only doom in a perfect situation is death, and even then love will outlast the end of one of its parties.

- Love this time: close, easy, slow.
- Until now he was "shooting in the dark too long" and all was wrong. 
- Before: careless love. Now: correct, on target, direct.
- Beautiful colors of the clover, Queen Anne's Lace and your red hair. You could make him cry. Before: can't remember what he was thinking about. Your love spoils him.
- Flowers and crickets and the lazy blue river. "I could stay with you forever and never realize the time."
- Before: bad relationships, sad relationships, relationships like that of Verlaine and Rimbaud. Now: this is much better.
- Why would he ever be without you? He should sit right down and write himself a letter.
- Where you might be: Honolulaaah, San Francisco, Ashtabula. Now you're gone, but I'll see you in the sky, the grass and my loved ones.
And the end of each verse carries the title...



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What's It Gonna Be When It Comes Up

Animal instinct:
If Bob were a chicken, he’d
Want to hear his sneeze.

This song from the 1967 Basement Tapes sessions is a poor-quality tape recording. I have done my best to get most of the lyrics right, but many are unintelligible. In fact, there is barely anything here in this strange caricature of a lounge singer performance that I could understand, but I wrote a haiku for it anyway. It is available on volume 11 of the Bootleg Series.

No no no don't do that no more
Yes xxxxxxxx baby doll
Baby doll no more
Well xxxxxx
No corporation but my homey rags
Man she's too much
Oh there's xxxx one-room Cadillac.
Taking me in the breeze
If I was a chicken now, I'd just want to hear myself sneeze
MMM, somethin' sure looks good goin' down boys
Bb-b-b-b-bba-ba-boo
mmmmmm
So good to see you tonight doll
Mmmm, gonna tell you when it hurts, it hurts
Wait dog... before my master comes
ba-da-da-da-da-do



West Texas

Going to Texas,
Looking for adventure, and
I’m not coming home.

I'm goin' down to West Texas
Behind the Louisiana line
I'm goin' down to West Texas
Behind the Louisiana line
Get me a fortune tellin' woman
One that's gonna read my mind

If you ever go to Dallas
Take the right hand road
If you ever go to Dallas
Take the right hand road
Those western Dallas streets, boys
They' bound ta kill ya fo' sho'

I'm goin' down to Jack Rabbit's
Past the west Texas line
I'm goin' down to Jack Rabbit's
Behind the Texas line
Eh they's stars up above
Lord it's my a-leavin' m' sign

Well you never miss your water
'till the well runs dry
An' you never miss your water
'Till the well runs dry
An' you never miss your man
'till he says "Good-bye"

You can write an' tell m' Mama
I won't be comin' home tonight
You can write an' tell my Mother
I won't be home tonight



Wade in the Water

Should kids be wading
If God troubles the waters?
Songwriter says yes.

Here's a spiritual-style song that was recorded in 1961 and released on a live performance compilation in 2001.

Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
God's a-gonna trouble the water
God's a-gonna trouble the water

Well, who are these children all dressed in red?
God's a-gonna trouble the water
Must-a-be the children that Moses led
God's a-gonna trouble the water

Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
God's a-gonna trouble the water
God's a-gonna trouble the water

Well out of the mountain come fire an' smoke
God's a-gonna trouble the water
Jehovah nobody but he could've spoke
God's a-gonna trouble the water

Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
God's a-gonna trouble the water
God's a-gonna trouble the water

Well, I'm walkin' down the highway an' the water's gettin' low
God's a-gonna trouble the water
Walkin' down the highway, nowhere to go
God's a-gonna trouble the water

But it's wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
God's a-gonna trouble the water
God's a-gonna trouble the water
God's a-gonna trouble the water




Under Control

She's under control.
She doesn't need her hand held
As she's hard to hold.

This song from the 1967 Basement Tapes sessions is a poor-quality tape recording. I have done my best to get most of the lyrics right, but many are unintelligible. It is available on volume 11 of the Bootleg Series.

Under control
And she's graveyard fence
Just how much was that
She hopped on the table
Beneath the floor
Arrows to ashtray
She said once more
She ain't ready to go
Well she' tolld me that she's tabled me
She's already xxxxxxxxx
Too hot to hold
She's under control
She's under control
Police man
Window shade
She said, xxxxx 
she's too hot to hold
In her soul
She's a rhinestone woman
but she's xxxxxxx
Under control
Well tombstone baby
Don't mind me brother
She said one more time
Don't mind me sister
She said once again
She don't need gratitude to hold her hand
She sure don't go



2 Dollars and 99 Cents

Making some change.
Lets start with $2.99.
Your sister has it.

This song from the 1967 Basement Tapes sessions is a poor-quality tape recording. I have done my best to get most of the lyrics right, but many are unintelligible. It is available on volume 11 of the Bootleg Series.

bag a xxxx
2 dollars and 99 cents
all my go down
2 dollars and 99 cents
it's a xxxxx
for xxxxxx
lord lord tomorrow people go
down one a two dollar bill
one ollar 99 cents
ten dollars was a two dollar bill
ten dollars and 99 cents
had a xxxxxxxxxxxx
devil's son
ain't got a bus we'll keep it level
do or die
why oh why
two dollars and 99 cents
well she walk
she got mister two dollars and 99c ents
oh you better go back and ask your sister
for two dollars and 99 cents
do or die



That's the Breaks

I wish you'd love me,
But I don't think that you will.
That's the breaks of life.

This song from the 1967 Basement Tapes sessions is a poor-quality tape recording. I have done my best to get most of the lyrics right, but many are unintelligible. It is available on volume 11 of the Bootleg Series.

All right, let's xxxx this

On my pillow last night
I thought I saw you dreaming
Just a sudden glance of happiness gone by
Suddenly came to me you see
Just a while ago when you left me, say your heart was broken little girl
But that... that's the breaks of life 
When you're breaking me 

Well it's a time of day
You’re nice, but you're not that nice
If you'd only come and go a while with me
But when you're old and gray, sweetheart, you're my xxxxxxxxx
But that's the breaks of life, you see, that's the breaks

Well, when I saw xxxxxx xxxx
And you know it ain't xxxxxx
Honey you know it's true for a while
What I say is only to my own appetite
Well, in the morning when you xxxxxx 
Please and xxxx be mine
You hang your head by the xxxxxx
And then cry cry please be mine, cry and xxxxxxx
In my pillow
In my great .... whole delight
Please  xxxxxxx
My darling, hold me, by my xxxxxx
But that's the breaks, you see, on the other side of life

Well, when your flowers are falling my way
And your xxxxxx is all ado
When your head is lonesome that way
It's a hard way, might as well to
But when your picture's on the xxxxx
Like your xxxxxxxxxxx on your waist
Oh xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Don't you think that's a disgrace?

Now you were xxx from me at midnight, broke my heart
And it's too late to cover up all you see
But when you're see future hanging low xxxxxxx
But it's always right down in my xxxxx
But that's the breaks on the other side of life


Susie Q

Susie’s qualities
From her walk to her talk make
Me love her true.

This song was sung by Eric von Schmidt and Bob Dylan at von Schmidt's Sarasota, Florida, home and released on the ultra-rare "50th Anniversary Collection 1964" copyright extension collection. Most people know the version by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was written by Louisiana's Dale Hawkins. Some of the lyrics were hard to capture because of the poor quality of the recording.

Oh Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
Baby I love you
My Susie Q

I like the way you walk
I like the way you walk
I like the way you walk
I like the way you talk
Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
My Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
Baby I love you
My Susie Q

I like the way you reel
I like the way you reel
I like the way you feel
My Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
My Susie Q
My Susie Q
Baby I love you
My Susie Q

I like the way you stand
I like the way you stand
I like the way you stand
I wanna be your man
I wanna be your man
Oh Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
Baby I love you
My Susie Q

Oh Susie Q
My Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
Baby I love you
I know Eric does too

I like the way you talk
I like the way you walk
I like the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
I never called a bark

Oh Susie Q
My Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
Baby I love you
My Susie Q

I don't want her too
I don't want to hurt you
I don't want to hurt you
Or want to make you blue
My Susie Q

There’s only thing I'll do
There's only one thing I'll do
That's XXXXXX
And I will let you be you.

I will let you be you.
I will let you be you.
I will let you be you
I'll let you be you
Well Paul will too.

Oh Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
Oh Susie Q
Baby I love you
My Susie Q

Who are you?

XXXXXXXXXXX
You wake up in the morning
XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I can't sing anymore
I can't sing anymore
I can't sing anymore
XXXXXXXXXX
Can't sing no more



Stoned on the Mountain

On the mountain, in
The valley, or wherever,
You might end up stoned.

This song was sung by Eric von Schmidt and Bob Dylan at von Schmidt's Sarasota, Florida, home and released on the ultra-rare "50th Anniversary Collection 1964" copyright extension collection. I was unable to hear the lyrics all the way through because of the poor recording quality of what was not intended to be a commercial release.

xxxxxxxxx
Must have been a junkie
Xxxxxx
Must have been a junkie
xxxxxx
Must have been a junkie
All his followers
They was stoned, stoned on the mountain
Smashed in the valley
Stoned on the mountain
Smashed in the valley
Stoned on the mountain
Smashed in the valley
Smashed, oh brother
Stoned, take a little sniff
Take a little sniff
And you draw it down deep
When you take a little sniff
Draw it down deep
Well you take a little sniff
And you draw it down deep
Well you take too much,
Oh brother, you go to sleep
Stoned on the mountain
Walkin' in the valley
Stoned on the mountain
Sleepin' in the valley
Stoned on the mountain
Wanderin' through the valley
You're going to smash old... xxxxxxx
When you're stoned
What is this stoned business?
Well, there's a whole lot of stones all layin' arond
In the valley?
Yes, they roll 'em down.
Yes, I know they roll them.
In Colombia.
My God, vacation land.
Well you better watch out
That stone get stoned
That you don't get stoned
Better watch out
That you don't get stoned
You better watch out
That you don't get stoned
You might find you might you might lose your home.
Don't do drugs
you better watch out
For the sign of falling rocks
You better watch out
For the sign of falling rocks
You better watch out
For the sign of falling rocks
Oh wow.
I couldn't say what I was thinking.




Standing on the Highway

Bob's standing around.
Trying to thumb himself a ride.
His life rolls on by.

Bob's standing around.
Trying to thumb himself a ride.
His life rolls on by.

Here's another lonely hitchhiker thumb-a-ride song that Bob Dylan recorded as a demo for the Witmark publishing company in 1962. It’s the old, well known lament of blues singer Robert Johnson: Standing on the highway, trying to bum a ride, but nobody knows him, and everyone passes him by. The second verse is more metaphorical: he’s trying to be brave, as he notes that one road goes to “bright lights” and the other goes to the grave.
It goes on like that.





She's on My Mind Again

It's before sunrise.
She's on his mind again.
He is packing up.

This song from the 1967 Basement Tapes sessions is a poor-quality tape recording. I have done my best to get most of the lyrics right, but many -- nearly all in this one -- are unintelligible. It is available on volume 11 of the Bootleg Series.

Morning roll
Dangle me
Poted by but she don't cost me
She don't mind where she go
Anyway she want to try
Laze away too long 
Go make some but my gone
She don't mind where she go
Happen in a fall
Raining's on my open hey holler he tried too hard
On my bail
Any in the summertime
Molly knows is all my pay
No babe don't happening straight
She's on my mind my mind, she's all
Ready for the morning time
Now old wind 
She's all stays in front
No it is not morningtime
rainy time comes once a year
she's got an old medium xxxx walking down my face
anytime the summertime
rich man lost on a way she
alone she comes 
working hard
she's already some old time
Now all my troubles and peace she bought
Kitchen up Molly went down abroad
She's on my way to 
Gonna pack I'm on a rainy sea
One time easy but it's two time one
It's already 
Anybody but her knows
Well odds are we could be home by a week
To come upon a donkey
She's on my mind, you know
Avenue where everybody else goes down
Any way you want to go



Runaway

She left him, it rains
He wah-wah-wah-wah-wonders
Why she ran away.

Del Shannon's classic rock-and-roll song, done Wilburys-style. First released on a single, it was later included on the box set compilation of their work in 2007.

As I walk along, I wonder
A-what went wrong with our love
A love that was so strong

And as I still walk on, I think of
The things we've done together
While our hearts were young

I'm a-walkin' in the rain
Tears are fallin' and I feel the pain
Wishin' you were here by me
To end this misery

I wonder
I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder
Why
Why, why, why, why, why
She ran away

And I wonder
Where she will stay
My little runaway
A-run, run, run, run, runaway

I'm a-walkin' in the rain
Tears are fallin' and I feel the pain
Wishin' you were here by me
To end this misery

And I wonder
I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder
Why
Why, why, why, why, why
She ran away

And I wonder
Where she will stay
My little runaway
A-run, run, run, run, runaway
A-run, run, run, run, runaway
A-run, run, run, run, runaway




Roll on Train

This train is rolling,
This train is out of control.
This train rolls all night.

This song from the 1967 Basement Tapes sessions is a poor-quality tape recording. I have done my best to get most of the lyrics right, but many are unintelligible. It is available on volume 11 of the Bootleg Series. It doesn't sound like the Elton Anderson song of the same name, but who knows...

Roll on train
Rollin all night
Roll out your wheel
Get on board
Roll on train
Get you on the way
Get you 
It's hard to see
Roll roll
But she's on the run
Lady lady
When she's on the
When she's passing the gate
Roll on train