One more weekend: the meaning of the lyrics and the music

By Tony Attwood

I suspect it is quite easy to misunderstand One More Weekend as a throw away, and I’m particularly moved to say that, having added the phrase from Dylan’s interview with Rolling Stone on the home page of this site, I think he might be playing with us here.

There, in that interview, he talks of journalists seeing him as a folk singer, a protest singer etc, and always misunderstanding him, whereas if you consider his music surely it is clear that he is a blues musician with an interest in exploring where the blues can be taken.

Even in his earliest songs there are blues masterpieces, so naturally Dylan would continue to explore the blues in its classic 12 bar form and see where it can go – and that is what he has done through all this work as a musician.  Try Ballad for a friend if you don’t believe me.

So to see such songs as merely Dylan’s regular tribute to the blues is to miss the point.  Dylan never stands still, and One More Weekend is a perfect example of his exploration of the blues as a form, within the context of what he is doing elsewhere.

In New Morning Dylan has prepared us for where he was going singing lines like “This must be the day when all of my dreams come true” and “So happy just to be alive underneath the sky of blue”.

And a moment later telling us that having a wife, living in a cabin in Utah, having children, is “what it’s all about.”

Now on One More Weekend we find

We’ll fly the night away
Hang up the whole next day
Things will be okay
You wait and see
We’ll go to some place unknown
Leave all the children home
Honey, why not go alone
Just you and me.

This is meant to be fun.  It starts with “slipping and sliding” which comes from the 1956 B side to Long Tall Sally which has within it the lines

I’ve been told, Baby you’ve been bold, I won’t be your fool no more.

But does this mean the song is about betrayal?  You could argue that, and bring in the fact that the opening has a mention of a weasel, not normally a word associated with being straightforward.  You could argue that there are elements of put-down also, because the song has the same bounce as songs like “Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat.”

And of course this is Dylan – this is what he does – he throws in references here, there and everywhere and plays with us.  Just as he plays with the timing of events in such songs as Tangled up in blue where nothing seems to be fixed in a sequence, so he can play with our emotional responses too – and as I will come to in a moment he does a time sequence change in this song too.

So, the album is primarily about the simple life, the country life, everything New York life is not.  Yes, Dylan is perfectly capable of throwing that lot out the window and saying, “hey baby, let’s go to the country cottage for a spot of rumpy-pumpy” (don’t know it that last phrase translates into American, but I think you’ll get the idea).

Yes it is possible, but why do that part-way through this album?  Why do that after “Winterlude” and “Sign”?  He might have done it, but I don’t think it is quite his style.

This is by and large an album about the classic family values and classic morality and duty and honour that have no part in the Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 and Blonde times.

And besides, although it is a blues, this isn’t a classic blues.  Yes it sounds like it at the start, and line line, I’m looking good to see you, yeah, we could have some fun certainly seems like that, but…

But… that central “B” section (this is a classic A B A song) does things with the chord sequence that no blues song would ever do.

The song is in A major, and in this middle section Dylan completes a perfect modulation – that is to say a complete change into E major.  Thus this is not the blues, for no blues piece ever does that.

And he’s playing with chords again – just listen to what happens

(D) We’ll fly the night away,
(C) Hang out the whole next day,
(B) Things will be okay, You wait and (E) see.

You can feel the descent down through those chords and then the sudden release as we jump from B to E – a feeling of “ah, ok, that is where we were going.”

I think there is a huge amount of throwing away of lines going on here, either (one might argue) because Dylan couldn’t care less about the song, or because he could and he enjoys playing games.

Come on down to my ship, honey, ride on deck
We’ll fly over the ocean, just like you suspect

What does that second line mean?  Suspect what?  And so what’s all this about riding on deck.  (It might be some sexual allusion, but not one that I know.  I think I must have lived a very sheltered life).

If there is an overall meaning the fact that we have

We’ll go to some place unknown
Leave all the children home
Honey, why not go alone
Just you and me.

which suggests a couple just having a break from the everyday life.  And in the end that’s all it is.  Lines like

Coming and going like a rabbit in the wood
I’m happy just to see you, yeah, looking so good

don’t really illuminate the human condition or take the story forwards.  It is just where we are.  Always busy, always tied up with work and life and family, but hey, you are still the shining light of my world, so yes, let’s take that break.

Of course Dylan then throws me off track totally with

Like a needle in a haystack I’m gonna find you yet
You’re the sweetest girl mama that this boy is ever gonna get

So, he’s not in a happy relationship after all – he’s talking about the future.


But then, maybe it’s just another of those future-present-past reversals that he so likes.  If you can tell the story forwards, you can always tell it backwards.

And I’ll say this for Bob Dylan.  He always makes me think.

All the songs reviewed on Untold Dylan



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1 Response to One more weekend: the meaning of the lyrics and the music

  1. Jerry Hallier says:

    Yes, I agree with you that Dylan is playing with the listener here. And I believe he has been quite successful at this over many years. Despite the clue in the title, pretty much ever since this song was first heard, most accounts (eg., Robert Christgau) have seen One More Weekend as about a loving married couple sneaking away for a passionate weekend. In contrast, I believe the song depicts the narrator as a lothario who seeks one final weekend of passion with a single mother he’s been seeing before moving on to pastures new. This song is spectacularly clever at wrong-footing the listener because of the line about leaving the children home. However, If you look at the rest of the lyrics the narrator admits his faithless character, (he’s a weasel on the run), and his ‘bed her and dump her’ intentions are clear by his mentioning that he intends “to come (cum) and go” ( at it like rabbits?) . Also, he tries to entice her to spend a weekend with him on ‘his ship’ not ‘our ship’, which would be the case if they were married or live-in partners. I’m tempted to think this wrong-footing is deliberate and the effect is enhanced by the song being placed among songs of marital bliss.

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