Gonna Get You Now. Bob Dylan begins to wrap up the Basement as a place to write songs

By Tony Attwood

I mentioned in my review of “Wild Wolf” (also on disc 5 of the Complete Basement Tapes collection) that the song reminded me of Tin Angel and Scarlet Town.

And here we are in Tin Angel country again, and I have begun to wonder if, when composing those songs from Tempest, Bob did indeed go back to the Basement Tapes and recall what he had been up to.

The factor that is a constant between Tin Angel and and Gonna Get You Now is nothing to do with the mood of the song or what’s in the lyrics but instead a lot to do with the structure, for both songs are based on one chord.

It is quite a hard trick to pull off, because changing the chord is one of the main ways of keeping the momentum going, especially in folk and popular music.   Take out the chords and we have left the lyrics and the melody as a way of taking the song forward, but there is always a sense of stasis. Nothing is really moving, all is the same.

Which is odd when the promise of the first line (and title) relates to what happens next, for this is a song whose prime message is “Gonna get you now”.

But not to worry because the words don’t make much sense anyway, and that message gets rather blurred as things progress.

Thanks as always in this series of songs to Haiku 61 for providing the lyrics.   I’ve made just the tiniest of adjustments, nothing more.

Gonna get you now
Word to your grandpa, come on home.
Well its sun in the  afternoon
Drama ain’t cold and brown.
Late last night on the top
She was heading to calling me ’round.
Gonna get you now.
Gonna get you now…
Word to your grandpa, come on home.
Well I was daydreaming on Sunday.
Monday came both ways.
Big storm, man,  it don’t bother me,
But I can’t seem to get it straight
Gonna get you now.
Going to your grandma, you’d better best come home

And just in case you go chasing off to hear this on Spotify, the fellas who run that show have been very misleading, for on the first page of Google at least when I was researching this song, is Gonna Get You Now, a song by Bob Dylan on Spotify but it leads to nothing of the kind, because the song isn’t even listed on Spotify, let alone providing us with a link to the recording.

Quite what the song is all about I don’t know, any more than I know why Bob was experimenting with a one chord song.  But if there was a set of linked thoughts in this piece maybe it was that the singer is tangled up in a mess and he really is stuck in this one single situation, and can’t get out.  Hence the single chord, symbolising being stuck.

It is hardly an advanced theory, but it is a theory.

The most famous of all the (almost) one chord songs was “I need your loving” although the composers cheated by having a brief moment of four ascending chords and then throwing in a sudden unexpected and brief “B” section.  It’s still a classic however.

What was so clever about that song was that not only did it only have one chord for the most part it also only had one line of lyrics for the most part.  And yet it needed two composers:  Bobby Robinson and Don Gardner.  That song was a hit in 1962 so maybe Bob remembered it, or maybe he hit on the one chord song quite separately.

So there we have it; quite an interesting sound built around one chord, a varying melody and a set of words that don’t seem to make any sense.  Post-modern Bob?

As it was, there was only one more Dylan original left in the Basement series – “All you have to do is dream” which goes in a completely different direction, with an utterly different feel, a complex set of chord changes, and a real melody.   And a theme in the first two lines that occupied Bob time and time again.

If the farmer has no silo
And his fuel cost runs up high
Well, that’s just how much I would love you
If you’d just only let me try.

If you are following these reviews in sequence, we’ll now move onto the final leg – the “bonus disc” of songs from the Basement series which were considered so badly recorded they couldn’t be included in the mainstream part of the show.  I’ll be working through the whole of that final disc in the coming weeks.

What else is on the site?

You’ll find an index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to the 500+ songs reviewed is now on a new page of its own.  You will find it here.  It contains links to reviews of every Dylan composition that we can find a recording of – if you know of anything we have missed please do write in.

We also now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews.

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