Wednesday, August 19, 2015

This Evening So Soon

Bill is dead because
He chased downtown girls around.
We told him not to.

This song, by Bob Gibson, by rights is called "Tell Ol' Bill" and came out in 1958. The phrase "This morning, this evening, so soon," which is the refrain of the song, later became the title of a James Baldwin short story. The song admonishes ol' Bill to "leave the downtown girls alone," though the original, if I remember correctly, said to "leave the downtown coons alone," which is a decidedly more racist word to use and changes the meaning of the song significantly. In the rest of the song, you hear that ol' Sal was baking bread when she found out her man Bill was dead. They bring him home in a "hurry-up wagon," and his "arms, his legs and feet were dragging." That's the secret life of ol' Bill that Sally finds out only too late. This is a sweet song for all its morbid atmosphere, and Dylan brings it to life. For what it's worth, some people say a hurry-up wagon refers to an ambulance. I wouldn't be surprised if it referred to a hearse.


  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.

  2. Often called "Tell Old Bill" and copyrighted by Carl Sandburg as "Dis Mornin' An' Dis Evenin' So Soon," the song is clearly an African-American country blues number that may have originated from an older song in Georgia in the mid-nineteenth century. Sandburg told of hearing it in St. Louis in 1922 from a Nancy Barnhart, and it was roughly her arrangement he published.