Bob Dylan And Johnny Appleseed (Part II)

By Larry Fyffe

This article continues from the previous piece

A lot of the whiskey made by European settlers after the Revolution in America is made from corn as it’s a native plant; apple seeds (originally brought over from Europe) are planted on the Western Frontier because apple trees are recognized as legal evidence that a settler has permanent rights to the land.

Swedenborgian Johnny ‘Appleseed’ Chapman plants apple seeds to establish property claims, but  most apples produced, since they are not grafted, are better suited for making cider than they are for eating; in any event, apple cider is popular with the settlers because it’s never sure whether or not the water is safe to drink:

Under that apple suckling tree, oh yeah
Under that apple suckling tree, oh yeah
Underneath that tree
There's just gonna be you and me
Underneath that apple suckling tree, oh yeah

(Bob Dylan: Apple Suckling Tree)

Hidden away from the taxman, corn whiskey is distilled in the Appalachian hills of America, and immortalized in folk songs, and songs derived therefrom:

Get you a copper kettle, get you a copper coil
Fill it with new-made corn mash, and never more you'll toil
You'll just lay there by the juniper while the moon is bright
Watch them jugs a-filling in the pale moonlight
Build you a fire with hickory, hickory, ash, and oak
Don't use no green or rotten wood, they'll get you by the smoke

(Bob Dylan: Copper Kettle ~ AF Beddoe)

Similar to words spoken on a recording by a string band:

Cut some of them hickory poles
Get some green ones now
That won't make no smoke

(Gid Turner And His Skillet Lickers: Corn Lickers Still In Georgia)

A country blues singer/songwriter borrows a couple of lines from a traditional song about whiskey:

If the river was whiskey, babe
And I was a duck
If the river was whiskey, babe
And I was a duck
I'd dive to the bottom, Lord
And I'd never come up

(Furry Lewis: I’ll Turn Your Money Green)

A Canadian country western singer sticks close to the original folk lyrics:

It's beef steak when I'm hungry
Rye whiskey when I'm dry ....
If the ocean was whiskey, and I was a duck
I'd swim to the bottom, and never come up
But the ocean ain't whiskey, and I ain't no duck
So I'll play Jack O' Diamonds, and trust in my luck

(Wilf Carter: Rye Whiskey)

Lyrics that get around:

I'll eat when I'm hungry, drink when I'm dry
And live my life on the square
And even if the flesh falls, flesh falls off of my face
I know someone will be there to care

(Bob Dylan: Standing In The Doorway)

The adventures of Johnny Appleseed are romanticized, but time-consuming grafting develops eatable apples which become a quintessential product of America. “As American as apple pie” enters the lexicon.

Bob Dylan’s more broad-minded than Johnny Appleseed:

Raspberry, strawberry, lemon, and lime
What do I care
Blueberry, apple, cherry, or plum
Call me for dinner
Honey, I'll be there

(Bob Dylan: Country Pie)

Not completely with tongue-in-cheek, one might postulate that the singer/songwriter personifies apple cider, and corn whiskey as two of his favourite muses:

Winterlude, Winterlude, my little apple
Winterlude by the corn in the field
Winterlude, let's go down to the chapel
Then come back, and make up a meal

(Bob Dylan: Winterlude)

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