Sunday, July 19, 2015

Nettie Moore

Nettie Moore is gone,
Bob's getting along somehow
In his lonely hours.

"Oh, I miss you Nettie Moore
And my happiness is o'er
Winter's gone, the river's on the rise
I loved you then and ever shall
But there's no one here that's left to tell
The world has gone black before my eyes."

"Nettie Moore" is 12 verses and a chorus (see above -- it's taken from an old song, which I've included below). It's a tangled, deep but spare song that appears on "Modern Times," Bob Dylan's expansive 2006 album that builds itself on a pastiche of blues song references and a variety of other literary sources. Some say there's active plagiarism at work. I see a mix and match of inspiration. For every obscure line from someone's book or song or folk tale that ends up in here, there are explicit references to source material, from the Robert Johnson "blues falling down like hail" line in this song and the further adventures of Frankie and Albert, to a hat tip to Merle Haggard on "Workingman's Blues #2." The song doesn't tell a linear story, though Dylan keeps returning to missing Nettie Moore and having no one with whom he can share his feelings. He sings the song gently, slowly, with minimal drumming that almost suggests a funeral, though the tone is light and wistful instead of muffled and dark.

Here is the rest. None of it, regrettably, made it into the haiku. I open each couplet with a clue since I don't know what he's after here:

The state of things:
Lost John sitting on a railroad track
Something's out of wack

Robert Johnson and what comes after:
Blues this morning falling down like hail
Gonna leave a greasy trail

Dylan on perpetual tour:
Gonna travel the world is what I'm gonna do
Then come back and see you

Trying his best:
All I ever do is struggle and strive
If I don't do anybody any harm, I might make it back home alive

I don't know about the crazy part, but the band part is true:
I'm the oldest son of a crazy man
I'm in a cowboy band

Redemption song:
Got a pile of sins to pay for and I ain't got time to hide
I'd walk through a blazing fire, baby, if I knew you was on the other side

The world of research has gone berserk
Too much paperwork

Albert's in the graveyard, Frankie's raising hell
I'm beginning to believe what the scriptures tell

This I can't interpret:
I'm going where the Southern crosses the Yellow Dog
Get away from these demagogues

Nor this:
And these bad luck women stick like glue
It's either one or the other or neither of the two

Watch out:
She says, "look out daddy, don't want you to tear your pants.
You can get wrecked in this dance."

Refers to Dylan songs "Minstrel Boy" and "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" and whatever the origin is of "top of the hill."
They say whiskey will kill ya, but I don't think it will
I'm riding with you to the top of the hill

Don't know why my baby never looked so good before
I don't have to wonder no more

Could be that food is just food, or maybe it's a sexy thing:
She been cooking all day and it's gonna take me all night
I can't eat all that stuff in a single bite

Redemption #2:
The Judge is coming in, everybody rise
Lift up your eyes

I'm just a singer/songwriter:
You can do what you please, you don't need my advice
Before you call me any dirty names you better think twice

It's about time:
Getting light outside, the temperature dropped
I think the rain has stopped

Who's he talking to?
I'm going to make you come to grips with fate
When I'm through with you, you'll learn to keep your business straight

On stage:
The bright spark of the steady lights
Has dimmed my sights

Love note:
When you're around all my grief gives 'way
A lifetime with you is like some heavenly day

Tangled up in Blue:
Everything I've ever known to be right has proven wrong
I'll be drifting along

Love note #2:
The woman I'm lovin', she rules my heart
No knife could ever cut our love apart

Today I'll stand in faith and raise
The voice of praise

Life is hard:
The sun is strong, I'm standing in the light
I wish to God that it were night

The title comes from the folk song "Gentle Nettie Moore," which I have included here. And here are those lyrics:

In a little white cottage.
Where the trees are ever green,
And the climbing roses blossom at the door,
I've often sat and listen'd
To the music of the birds,
And the gentle voice of charming Nettie Moore.

Oh, I miss you Nettie Moore,
And my happiness is o'er,
While a spirit sad around my heart his come;
And the busy days are long,
And the nights are lonely now,
For you're gone from our little cottage home.

Below us in the valley,
On the river's dancing tide,
Of a Summer eve I'd launch my open boat;
And when the moon was rising,
And the stars began to shine,
Down the river we so merrily would float.-Chorus.

And often in the Autumn,
Ere the dew had left the lawn,
We would wander o'er the fields far away;
But those moments have departed,
Gentle Nettie, too, is gone,
And no longer sweetly with her can I stray.-Chorus.

Since the time that you departed,
I have long'd from earth to rise,
And join the happy angels gone before;
I can not now be merry.
For my heart is full of woe,
Ever pining for my gentle Nettie Moore.-Chorus.

You are gone, darling Nettie;
I have mouru'd you many a day;
But I'll wipe all the tears from my eyes;
For as soon as life is past,
I shall meet you once again,
In heaven, darling, up above the skies.-Chorus.

1 comment:

  1. Hello there Robert, Thank you for posting this analysis of a song from Bob Dylan's Music Box Come and join us inside and listen to every song composed, recorded or performed by Bob Dylan, plus all the great covers streaming on YouTube, Spotify, Deezer and SoundCloud plus so much more... including this link.