Dylan’s rules of the road

bob-dylan-press-2Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, well deserved from this view, and a portion of the body of work on which he’s been judged was created in Woodstock. People often wonder about how an actor learns the long soliloquies of Shakespeare. But most can readily quote Dylan. See if you can follow the meandering puzzle below.

There’s this one Dylan song. Well, actually it could be one long song that’s got a lot of chapters and it keeps getting rewritten, and added to as the road got longer.  You might say it’s kind of Dylan’s log and it seems to include a theme that runs through his work, kind of like a restless, hungry feeling that don’t mean no one no good.

I’m out here a thousand miles from my home, he started out singing to Woody Guthrie


The very last thing that I’d want to do, Is to say I’ve been hittin some hard travelin too;

But goodbye’s too good a word, gal, So I’ll just say fare thee well; I’m leavin’ today, I’ll be on my way. Of this I can’t say very much. But if you want me to, I can be just like you
and pretend that we never have touched; Well, I go to pet your monkey I get a face full of claws, I ask who’s in the fireplace, And you tell me Santa Claus, The milkman comes in
He’s wearing a derby hat, Then you ask why I don’t live here, Honey, how come you have to ask me that? Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you. Forget the dead you’ve left, they will not follow you.

I decided to flip a coin, like either heads or tails would let me know if I should go back to ship or back to jail, so I hocked my sailor suit and I got a coin to flip…lost in the rain in Juarez and it’s Easter time 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… Mona tried to tell me to stay away from the train line. She said that all the railroad men just drink up your blood like wine; I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail, Poisoned in the bushes an’ blown out on the trail, hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn…I came to a high place of darkness and light. The dividing line ran through the center of town. I hitched up my pony to a post on the right, went in to a laundry to wash my clothes down. …they all play on penny whistles, You can hear them blow, if you lean your head out far enough, Stay free from petty jealousies, live by no man’s code, and hold your judgment for yourself, lest you wind up on this road.

I had a job in the great north woods working as a cook for a spell but I never did like it all that much and one day the ax just fell. So I drifted down to New Orleans, where I was lucky just to be employed, workin’ for a while on a fishin’ boat right outside of Delacroix.

do you know where we’re headin’? Lincoln County Road or Armageddon? They say that patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings. Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king

Every day your memory grows dimmer, it doesn’t haunt me like it did before. City’s just a jungle, more games to play. Trapped in the heart of it, trying to get away. I was raised in the country, I been workin’ in the town. I been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down.

I’ve just reached a place where the willow don’t bend, There’s not much more to be said, It’s the top of the end. I’m going, I’m going, I’m gone…time is an ocean and it ends at the shore…you may not see me here tomorrow.

Aside from the fun of putting those lines together, the melodies in my head changed with each song. Hope not to have offended any purists. And there are those of you out there who consider yourselves experts in Dylan’s music. Comment below if you can tell us which song each of the lines above is from. Answers here



There is one comment

  1. Oystein Klovning

    Love the story! I’m not a Dylan purist, but I’ve got ALL his music, and I play it daily. To my work in my car, when home, wherever.. All the lines in the songs speak differently to me, new context every time. And your (Dylans) story makes perfectly sense. Thank you! Best regards Oystein in Norway

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