Tom Paine says sorry
For letting daughter seduce
Bob with ideals.
It might be my imagination, but nearly every song on John Wesley Harding resembles a collapsed star. The area and volume are small compared to other stars, and their density is astounding. "As I Went Out One Morning" is just such a song, generating all sorts of ideas by Dylan fans for what it might "mean." The story is simple and over quickly:
Verse 1: Dylan goes out for a walk to "breathe the air around Tom Paine's." He meets a "damsel" in chains. She suggests in a sly tone that they should escape to the South.
Verse 2: Dylan isn't having it. Get away, he says. I don't want to, she says. I insist, he says.
Verse 3: Tom Paine arrives and tells the girl to knock it off. Then he apologizes to Dylan for what she did.
I don't know what it's about or if it's about anything. Before writing these haikus, I gave it some thought, but gave it up because I prefer to enjoy music more than I like to analyze it. But in the spirit of inquiry, I decided to return. Side note: the Robert Burns poem that this song appears to be based on, in which a man knocks up a young girl who, though she confesses to be underage, has a body that is anything but. At least there's no trouble understanding that story line.