Monday, August 17, 2015

Sign on the Cross

That sign on the cross
Worries Bob something fierce.
It won't disappear.

"Sign on the Cross," another one of the Basement Tapes songs from 1967 (and unreleased until the Basement Tapes complete collection came out in 2014) is one of those songs that long-time bootleg-trading fans of these sessions say is one of the high points. And it is, musically speaking. The religious tinge to the grand arpeggios makes me think of songs like "Everybody Hurts" by REM, and Dylan's impersonation of an old-time radio preacher sounds powerful and stirring until you realize that he's just bullshitting. This isn't so much of a song of religious striving, as I've seen written, as it is a satire on that thing. Just look at these lyrics and you will see what I mean:

Now, I try, oh for so awf’ly long
And I just try to be
And now, oh it’s a gold mine
But it’s so fine
Yes, but I know in my head
That we’re all so misled
And it’s that ol’ sign on the cross
That worries me

Now, when I was just a bawlin’ child
I saw what I wanted to be
And it’s all for the sake
Of that picture I should see
But I was lost on the moon
As I heard that front door slam
And that old sign on the cross
Still worries me

Well, it’s that old sign on the cross
Well, it’s that old key to the kingdom
Well, it’s that old sign on the cross
Like you used to be
But, when I hold my head so high
As I see my ol’ friends go by
And it’s still that sign on the cross
That worries me

Well, it seem to be the sign on the cross. Ev’ry day,
ev’ry night, see the sign on the cross just layin’ up
on top of the hill. Yes, we thought it might have
disappeared long ago, but I’m here to tell you, friends,
that I’m afraid it’s lyin’ there still. Yes, just a
little time is all you need, you might say, but I don’t
know ’bout that any more, because the bird is here and
you might want to enter it, but, of course, the door might
be closed. But I just would like to tell you one time,
if I don’t see you again, that the thing is, that the sign
on the cross is the thing you might need the most.

Yes, the sign on the cross
Is just a sign on the cross
Well, there is some on every chisel
And there is some in the championship, too
Oh, when your, when your days are numbered
And your nights are long
You might think you’re weak
But I mean to say you’re strong
Yes you are, if that sign on the cross
If it begins to worry you
Well, that’s all right because sing a song
And all your troubles will pass right on through

1 comment:

  1. Hello there Robert, what crosses we have to carry can be found in the basement. Come on out into Bob Dylan's Music Box and listen to every version of every song composed, recorded or performed by Bob Dylan, plus all the great covers plus so much more.