Saturday, June 13, 2015

If You Ever Go to Houston

Bob's Houston advice
Should keep you safe from the cops,
But not loneliness.

"If You Ever Go to Houston" is another one of Dylan's recent rueful songs of lessons learned late. It's also a beautiful song. It borrows the title line from the song "Midnight Special," but heads in its own direction from there. It's a time-warp trip through the oil city of today and the old days of the Texas republic, steeped in barbeque sauce and regret:

Instructions for Houston trip:
1. Walk right. 
2. Hands in pockets.
3. Don't look for a fight.
4. Watch out for the sheriff at the corner of Bagby and Lamar.
5. Know where you're going or stay where you are.

Instructions for Dallas trip:
1. Say hellow to Mary Anne.
2. Tell her I've still got my finger on the trigger.
3. If you see her sister Lucy, apologize for my absence.
4. Tell her sister Betsy to pray for this sinner.

Why Bob knows all this:
1. He nearly got killed there in the Mexican war.
2. Something keeps him coming back.
3. He knows about restlessness and having to keep moving forward.

Instructions for policeman:
1. Please find my gal.
2. She was last seen at the Magnolia Hotel.
3. Be my friend.

Instructions for trip to Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio:

1. Visit the bar rooms I used to get lost in.
2. Send me home my memories.
3. Put my tears in a bottle. Seal fast.

What's at the corner of Bagby and Lamar:
1. Deloitte & Touche human resources office
2. Houston Public Library - central branch
3. Sam Houston Park
4. The Heritage Society
5. Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co
6. Societe Generale
7. Houston Volunteer Lawyers
8. Bus stop for routes 18, 36, 37 and 40.

Regarding Bagby and Lamar:

Who was Thomas Bagby (1814-1868)? He was a businessman and civic leader from Virginia who moved to Texas. He petitioned the legislature to emancipate a black female slave in 1847, but his petition was rejected. He was a Mason, a Presbyterian and an alderman of Houston's Fourth Ward.

Who was Mirabeau Bounaparte Lamar (1798-1859)? He was the president of the Republic of Texas, born near Louisville, Georgia. He played an instrumental role in repulsing the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto, and called for the execution of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. His two opponents for presidency of the republic killed themselves on the same day, providing him with an easy win. He later died of a heart attack, having survived the death of his daughter.

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