4. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited

Bob Dylan

 

Dylan was collecting great songs when this masterpiece arrived in mid 1965. It contains songs as "Like a Rolling Stone", "Ballad of a Thin Man", "Desolation Row" and the title-song. As a vocalist, he reestablishes the rules of the game. It's certainly one of the essential Dylan albums.
"Like A Rolling Stone" 
 
Once upon a time you dressed so fine 
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you? 
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall" 
You thought they were all kiddin' you 
You used to laugh about 
Everybody that was hangin' out 
Now you don't talk so loud 
Now you don't seem so proud 
About having to be scrounging for your next meal. 
 
How does it feel 
How does it feel 
To be without a home 
Like a complete unknown 
Like a rolling stone? 
 
You've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely 
But you know you only used to get juiced in it 
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street 
And now you find out you're gonna have to get used to it 
You said you'd never compromise 
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize 
He's not selling any alibis 
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes 
And ask him do you want to make a deal? 
 
How does it feel 
How does it feel 
To be on your own 
With no direction home 
Like a complete unknown 
Like a rolling stone? 
 
You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns 
When they all come down and did tricks for you 
You never understood that it ain't no good 
You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you 
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat 
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat 
Ain't it hard when you discover that 
He really wasn't where it's at 
After he took from you everything he could steal. 
 
How does it feel 
How does it feel 
To be on your own 
With no direction home 
Like a complete unknown 
Like a rolling stone? 
 
Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people 
They're drinkin', thinkin' that they got it made 
Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things 
But you'd better lift your diamond ring, you'd better pawn it babe 
You used to be so amused 
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used 
Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse 
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose 
You're invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal. 
 
How does it feel 
How does it feel 
To be on your own 
With no direction home 
Like a complete unknown 
Like a rolling stone? 
 
 
"Tombstone Blues" 
 
The sweet pretty things are in bed now of course 
The city fathers they're trying to endorse 
The reincarnation of Paul Revere's horse 
But the town has no need to be nervous. 
 
The ghost of Belle Star she hands down her wits 
To Jezebel the nun she violently knits 
A bald wig for Jack the Ripper who sits 
At the head of the chamber of commerce. 
 
Mama's in the fact'ry 
She ain't got no shoes 
Daddy's in the alley 
He's lookin' for fuse 
I'm in the kitchen 
With the tombstone blues. 
 
The hysterical bride in the penny arcade 
Screaming she moans, "I've just been made" 
Then sends out for the doctor who pulls down the shade 
Says, "My advice is to not let the boys in". 
 
Now the medicine man comes and he shuffles inside 
He walks with a swagger and he says to be bride 
"Stop all this weeping, swallow your pride 
You will not die, it's not poison". 
 
Mama's in the fact'ry 
She ain't got no shoes 
Daddy's in the alley 
He's lookin' the fuse 
I'm in the kitchen 
With the tombstone blues. 
 
Well, John the Baptist after torturing a thief 
Looks up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief 
Saying, "Tell me great hero, but please make it brief 
Is there a hole for me to get sick in ?" 
The Commander-in-Chief answers him while chasing a fly 
Saying, "Death to all those who would whimper and cry" 
And dropping a bar bell he points to the sky 
Saying, "The sun's not yellow it's chicken. 
 
Mama's in the fact'ry 
She ain't got no shoes 
Daddy's in the alley 
He's lookin' for fuse 
I'm in the kitchen 
With the tombstone blues. 
 
The king of the Philistines his soldiers to save 
Put jawbones on their tombstones and flatters their graves 
Puts the pied pipers in prison and fattens the slaves 
Then sends them out to the jungle. 
 
Gypsy Davey with a blowtorch he bums out their camps 
With his faithful slave Pedro behind him he tramps 
With a fantastic collection of stamps 
To win friends and influence his uncle. 
 
Mama's in the fact'ry 
She ain't got no shoes 
Daddy's in the alley 
He's lookin' for fuse 
I'm in trouble 
With the tombstone blues. 
 
The geometry of innocence flesh on the bone 
Causes Galileo's math book to get thrown 
At Delilah who sits worthlessly alone 
But the tears on her cheeks are from laughter. 
 
Now I wish I could give Brother Bill his great thrill 
I would set him in chains at the top of the hill 
Then send out for some pillars and Cecil B. DeMille 
He could die happily ever after. 
 
Mama's in the fact'ry 
She ain't got no shoes 
Daddy's in the alley 
He's lookin' for fuse 
I'm in the kitchen 
With the tombstone blues. 
Where Ma Raney and Beethoven once unwrapped their bed roll 
Tuba players now rehearsal around the flagpole 
And the National Bank at a profit sells road maps or the soul 
To the old folks home in the college. 
 
Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain 
That could hold you dear lady from going insane 
That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain 
Of your useless and pointless knowledge 
 
Mama's in the fact'ry 
She ain't got no shoes 
Daddy's in the alley 
He's lookin' for fuse 
I'm in the kitchen 
With the tombstone blues. 
 
 
"It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry" 
 
Well, I ride on a mailtrain, babe 
Can't buy a thrill 
Well, I've been up all night 
Leanin' on the window sill 
Well, if I die 
On top of the hill 
And if I don't make it 
You know my baby will. 
 
Don't the moon look good, mama 
Shinin' through the trees ? 
Don't the brakeman look good, mama 
Ragging down the "Double E" ? 
Don't the sun look good 
Goin' down over the sea ? 
Don't my gal look fine 
When she's comin' after me ? 
 
Now the wintertime is coming 
The windows are filled with frost 
I went to tell everybody 
But I could not get across 
Well, I wanna be your lover, baby 
I don't wanna be your boss 
Don't say I never warned you 
When your train gets lost. 
 
 
"From A Buick 6" 
 
I got this graveyard woman, you know she keeps my kid 
But my soulful mama, you know she keeps me hid 
She's a junkyard angel and she always gives me bred 
Well, if I go down dyin' you know she bound to put a blanket on my bed. 
 
Well, when the pipeline gets broken and I'm lost on the river bridge 
I'm cracked up on the highway and on the water's edge 
She comes down the thruway ready to sew me up with thread 
Well, if I go down dyin' you know she bound to put a blanket on my bed. 
 
Well, she don't make me nervous, she don't talk too much 
She walks like Bo Diddley and she don't need no crutch 
She keeps this four-ten all loaded with lead 
Well, if I go down dyin' you know she bound to put a blanket on my bed. 
 
Well, you know I need a steam shovel mama to keep away the dead 
I need a dump truck baby to unload my head 
She brings me everything and more, and just like I said 
Well, if I go down dyin' you know she bound to put a blanket on my bed. 
 
 
"Ballad Of A Thin Man" 
 
You walk into the room 
With your pencil in your hand 
You see somebody naked 
And you say, "Who is that man ?" 
You try so hard 
But you don't understand 
Just what you'll say 
When you get home. 
 
Because something is happening here 
But you don't know what it is 
Do you, Mister Jones ? 
 
You raise up your head 
And you ask, "Is this where it is ?" 
And somebody points to you and says 
"It's his" 
And you says, "What's mine ?" 
And somebody else says, "Where what is ?" 
And you say, "Oh my God 
Am I here all alone ?" 
 
But something is happening here 
But you don't know what it is 
Do you, Mister Jones ? 
 
You hand in your ticket 
And you go watch the geek 
Who immediately walks up to you 
When he hears you speak 
And says, "How does it feel 
To be such a freak ?" 
And you say, "Impossible" 
As he hands you a bone. 
 
And something is happening here 
But you don't know what it is 
Do you, Mister Jones ? 
 
You have many contacts 
Among the lumberjacks 
To get you facts 
When someone attacks your imagination 
But nobody has any respect 
Anyway they already expect you 
To all give a check 
To tax-deductible charity organizations. 
You've been with the professors 
And they've all liked your looks 
With great lawyers you have 
Discussed lepers and crooks 
You've been through all of 
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books 
You're very well read 
It's well known. 
 
But something is happening here 
And you don't know what it is 
Do you, Mister Jones ? 
 
Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you 
And then he kneels 
He crosses himself 
And then he clicks his high heels 
And without further notice 
He asks you how it feels 
And he says, "Here is your throat back 
Thanks for the loan". 
 
And you know something is happening 
But you don't know what it is 
Do you, Mister Jones ? 
 
Now you see this one-eyed midget 
Shouting the word "NOW" 
And you say, "For what reason ?" 
And he says, "How ?" 
And you say, "What does this mean ?" 
And he screams back, "You're a cow 
Give me some milk 
Or else go home". 
 
Because something is happening 
But you don't know what it is 
Do you, Mister Jones ? 
 
Well, you walk into the room 
Like a camel and then you frown 
You put your eyes in your pocket 
And your nose on the ground 
There ought to be a law 
Against you comin' around 
You should be made 
To wear earphones. 
 
Does something is happening 
And you don't know what it is 
Do you, Mister Jones ? 
 
 
"Queen Jane Approximately" 
 
When your mother sends back all your invitations 
And your father to your sister he explains 
That you're tired of yourself and all of your creations 
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane ? 
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane ? 
 
Now when all of the flower ladies want back what they have lent you 
And the smell of their roses does not remain 
And all of your children start to resent you 
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane ? 
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane ? 
 
Now when all the clowns that you have commissioned 
Have died in battle or in vain 
And you're sick of all this repetition 
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane ? 
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane ? 
 
When all of your advisers heave their plastic 
At your feet to convince you of your pain 
Trying to prove that your conclusions should be more drastic 
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane ? 
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane ? 
 
Now when all of the bandits that you turned your other cheek to 
All lay down their bandanas and complain 
And you want somebody you don't have to speak to 
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane ? 
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane ? 
 
 
"Highway 61 Revisited" 
 
Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son" 
Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on" 
God say, "No." Abe say, "What ?" 
God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but 
The next time you see me comin' you better run" 
Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin' done ?" 
God says. "Out on Highway 61". 
 
Well Georgia Sam he had a bloody nose 
Welfare Department they wouldn't give him no clothes 
He asked poor Howard where can I go 
Howard said there's only one place I know 
Sam said tell me quick man I got to run 
Ol' Howard just pointed with his gun 
And said that way down on Highway 61. 
 
Well Mack the finger said to Louie the King 
I got forty red white and blue shoe strings 
And a thousand telephones that don't ring 
Do you know where I can get ride of these things 
And Louie the King said let me think for a minute son 
And he said yes I think it can be easily done 
Just take everything down to Highway 61. 
 
Now the fift daughter on the twelfth night 
Told the first father that things weren't right 
My complexion she said is much too white 
He said come here and step into the light he says hmmm you're right 
Let me tell second mother this has been done 
But the second mother was with the seventh son 
And they were both out on Highway 61. 
 
Now the rowin' gambler he was very bored 
He was tryin' to create a next world war 
He found a promoter who nearly fell off the floor 
He said I never engaged in this kind of thing before 
But yes I think it can be very easily done 
We'll just put some bleachers out in the sun 
And have it on Highway 61. 
 
 
"Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" 
 
When you're lost in the rain in Juarez 
And it's Eastertime too 
And your gravity fails 
And negativity don't pull you through 
Don't put on any airs 
When you're down on Rue Morgue Avenue 
They got some hungry women there 
And they really make a mess outa you. 
 
Now if you see Saint Annie 
Please tell her thanks a lot 
I cannot move 
My fingers are all in a knot 
I don't have the strength 
To get up and take another shot 
And my best friend, my doctor 
Won't even say what it is I've got. 
 
Sweet Melinda 
The peasants call her the goddess of gloom 
She speaks good English 
And she invites you up into her room 
And you're so kind 
And careful not to go to her too soon 
And she takes your voice 
And leaves you howling at the moon. 
 
Up on Housing Project Hill 
It's either fortune or fame 
You must pick up one or the other 
Though neither of them are to be what they claim 
If you're lookin' to get silly 
You better go back to from where you came 
Because the cops don't need you 
And man they expect the same. 
Now all the authorities 
They just stand around and boast 
How they blackmailed the sergeant-at-arms 
Into leaving his post 
And picking up Angel who 
Just arrived here from the coast 
Who looked so fine at first 
But left looking just like a ghost. 
 
I started out on burgundy 
But soon hit the harder stuff 
Everybody said they'd stand behind me 
When the game got rough 
But the joke was on me 
There was nobody even there to bluff 
I'm going back to New York City 
I do believe I've had enough. 
 
 
"Desolation Row" 
 
They're selling postcards of the hanging 
They're painting the passports brown 
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors 
The circus is in town 
Here comes the blind commissioner 
They've got him in a trance 
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker 
The other is in his pants 
And the riot squad they're restless 
They need somewhere to go 
As Lady and I look out tonight 
From Desolation Row. 
 
Cinderella, she seems so easy 
"It takes one to know one," she smiles 
And puts her hands in her back pockets 
Bette Davis style 
And in comes Romeo, he's moaning 
"You belong to Me I Believe" 
And someone says, "You're in the wrong place, my friend 
You better leave" 
And the only sound that's left 
After the ambulances go 
Is Cinderella sweeping up 
On Desolation Row. 
 
Now the moon is almost hidden 
The stars are beginning to hide 
The fortunetelling lady 
Has even taken all her things inside 
All except for Cain and Abel 
And the hunchback of Notre Dame 
Everybody is making love 
Or else expecting rain 
And the Good Samaritan, he's dressing 
He's getting ready for the show 
He's going to the carnival tonight 
On Desolation Row. 
Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window 
For her I feel so afraid 
On her twenty-second birthday 
She already is an old maid 
To her, death is quite romantic 
She wears an iron vest 
Her profession's her religion 
Her sin is her lifelessness 
And though her eyes are fixed upon 
Noah's great rainbow 
She spends her time peeking 
Into Desolation Row. 
 
Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood 
With his memories in a trunk 
Passed this way an hour ago 
With his friend, a jealous monk 
He looked so immaculately frightful 
As he bummed a cigarette 
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes 
And reciting the alphabet 
You would not think to look at him 
But he was famous long ago 
For playing the electric violin 
On Desolation Row. 
 
Dr. Filth, he keeps his world 
Inside of a leather cup 
But all his sexless patients 
They're trying to blow it up 
Now his nurse, some local loser 
She's in charge of the cyanide hole 
And she also keeps the cards that read 
"Have Mercy on His Soul" 
They all play on penny whistles 
You can hear them blow 
If you lean your head out far enough 
From Desolation Row. 
Across the street they've nailed the curtains 
They're getting ready for the feast 
The Phantom of the Opera 
In a perfect image of a priest 
They're spoonfeeding Casanova 
To get him to feel more assured 
Then they'll kill him with self-confidence 
After poisoning him with words 
And the Phantom's shouting to skinny girls 
"Get outa here if you don't know" 
Casanova is just being punished for going 
To Desolation Row. 
 
At midnight all the agents 
And the superhuman crew 
Come out and round up everyone 
That knows more than they do 
Then they bring them to the factory 
Where the heart-attack machine 
Is strapped across their shoulders 
And then the kerosene 
Is brought down from the castles 
By insurance men who go 
Check to see that nobody is escaping 
To Desolation Row. 
 
They be to Nero's Neptune 
The Titanic sails at dawn 
Everybody's shouting 
"Which side are you on ?" 
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot 
Fighting in the captain's tower 
While calypso singers laugh at them 
And fishermen hold flowers 
Between the windows of the sea 
Where lovely mermaids flow 
And nobody has to think too much 
About Desolation Row. 
Yes, I received your letter yesterday 
About the time the door knob broke 
When you asked me how I was doing 
Was that some kind of joke ? 
All these people that you mention 
Yes, I know them, they're quite lame 
I had to rearrange their faces 
And give them all another name 
Right now I can't read too good 
Dont send me no more letters no 
Not unless you mail them 
From Desolation Row. 

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