“Next time on the Highway” Bob Dylan steps back into the Buick 6, two years on.

By Tony Attwood

This 1967 song is Bob Dylan looking back a couple of years to “From a Buick Six” in 1965.  The song structure and themes are the same, and in fact there are a number of musical parallels in the instrumental work and melody line beyond the fact that both are 12 bar blues of the standard variety.

The recording quality is far superior to most of Disc six of the Basement Complete collection – the reason it is on the “bonus disc” is probably because of the talking over the music during the second instrumental break, and the fact that the two lines into the third verse the song just stops.

Or maybe they just had a bit of space.

Dylan sounds as if he has an idea for the lyrics with the title of the song, counting upwards through the next times he is on the highway, but he hasn’t really got beyond that.  And even if he had finished the lyrics I doubt that he would have recorded the song for an album given its proximity to Buick 6.

Here are the lyrics- they are of course approximate, and there may be some bits you want to correct…

First time on the highway I was six years old
She saw me empty she was lined up with gold
Next time on the highway was told with desire
Third time on the highway she got failing and fire
Soon then on the highway but don’t set me free
Next time on the highway gonna be the death of me

Instrumental verse

Well third time on the highway it was 19 0 10
They was treating the women just like they was treating the men
Next time on the highway  it was 19 0 12
Treating your brother just like you treat yourself
Third time on the highway it don’t matter to me.
Next time on the highway gonna be the death of me

Instrumental verse with voice over

Well the next first time on the blanket I was smoking my cigarette
Next time on the highway gonna be the death of me in fact you don’t 

And there it stops.

If we had not had From a Buick 6 before hand this could have been seen as an innovative piece of work that we might have wished Dylan had completed, but the existence of the Buick earlier rather removes much of the fascination, particularly as the lyrics, as far as they go, haven’t got too much to say about anything.

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One comment

  1. This song commences a series of tracks wherein Dylan and the Band are, for lack of a better description, totally wasted. Drunk off their asses. Inebriated. It is the most bizarre section of the Basement Tapes.
    You skipped right past what for me is the most interesting part of the song– the contents of that voiceover. Could be you passed on it because it is hardly legible, or because there are some obvious profanities in there. Maybe you prefer to focus on the artistry in the intended lyrics. I respect that. But I view every word on these tapes as an insight into what’s going on, and believe it’s all worth looking at. In this case, with the telltale slurring in Dylan’s voice, it’s a harbinger of what is to come. Plus, maybe our sense of humor are different, but this is some damn funny stuff. It took me a few listens to figure out the full phrases, but here is that comment, in its full, uncensored glory:
    “Just listen to Richard play that piano. Man, oh Richard, he just just (laughs), plays that piano with that SHIT FACE. (laughs) Just poundin’ the fuckin’ piss out of that piano.”
    He starts the next verse and stops abruptly. Who knows why. It’s very possible he was too hammered to continue.

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