Why does Bob Dylan like “My Blue Eyed Jane”

By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

We have of late been dealing with several tribute albums Bob Dylan has performed on – and here we have another.  Indeed this is an album that Bob Dylan was centrally involved in, as he made it the first release on his Egyptian record label.

Bob’s contribution to the record was My Blue Eyed Jane by Jimmie Rodgers.  The album was called “The Songs Of Jimmie Rodgers”.

So let’s begin with the composer.  James Rogers was born on 8 September 1897 in Mississippi, and died tragically young at the age of 35 in 1933 in New York.  He is described generally as a “country music pioneer” and of course like Bob Dylan was a singer-songwriter.  He played guitar and banjo and if you want to know more there is a website dedicated to him: www.jimmierodgers.com, where he is described as the “father of country music.  There is also an annual Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival – details are on his site.

Jimmie Rodgers made his name with rhythmic yodelling and gained several nicknames, including “The Singing Brakeman”.  Here is one of two versions of the song Bob is said to have recorded.  However I can’t find a copy of the other version.

 

Bob’s album gained a lot of positive comments over the care that went into the choice of songs and the arrangements.  Indeed many tribute albums are little more than a collection of recordings thrown together quickly in order to make a few dollers.  It was the first release on the Egyptian record label.

Also on the album are songs recorded by Van Morrison, Bono, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Jerry Garcia… Everyone of course wants to be in on a Bob Dylan project.

Steve Earle’s “In the Jailhouse Now” is usually mentioned along with Dylan’s “Sweet Liza Jane” which I am sure we’ll get to in another review.

The musicians backing up Dylan are Tony Garnier (bass), Winston Watson (Percussion) John Jackson (Guitar) Bucky Baxter (Pedal Steel Guitar), and alongside Dylan on vocals… I think it is Emmylou Harris.

Dylan played the song three times in concert in 1999.   Here’s one of the concert versions

The original recording of the song was made on 30 June 1930 in the Hollywood Recording Studios, LA, with Bob Sawyer’s Jazz Band.  

Jimmie Rodgers himself died tragically young on May 26, 1933, aged 35.  At the time of his death, it is said that his songs accounted for fully 10% of RCA Victor’s entire sales.  

Bob Sawyer’s Jazz Band accompanying the composer is made up of Bob Sawyer, piano; Mickey Bloom, cornet; Boyd Senter, clarinet; unknown banjo, tuba, guitar).  Here are the lyrics…

The sweetest girl in the world
Is my blue-eyed Jane.
We fell in love like turtledoves
While the moon was shining down.
I asked her then, I asked her when
Wedding bells would ring.
She said, “Oh, dear, it seems so queer
That this could happen here.”

You are my little pal,
And I never knew a sweeter gal,
My little blue-eyed Jane,
I love you so.
And when the sun goes down
And the shadow’s creeping over town,
Just meet me in the lane,
My blue-eyed Jane.

Janie dear, listen here,
I’ve come to say farewell.
The world is drear without you, dear,
But now I cannot linger here.
I’m going away this very day,
Oh please, come go with me.
I’ll be sad and blue wanting you,
Longing all day through.

My little blue-eyed Jane,
You’ll always be the same sweet thing,
I know you’ll never change,
I love you so.
And when the sun goes down
And the shadow’s creeping over town,
Then I’ll come back again,
My blue-eyed Jane.

And when the sun goes down
And the shadow’s creeping over town,
Then I’ll come back again,
My blue-eyed Jane.

Apart from everything else in this song, the rhyme scheme tears up the rule book and goes off on a route of its own.  Exactly the song of thing that Bob would admire.

In 1985 Bob said, “The most inspiring type of entertainer for me has always been somebody like Jimmie Rodgers, somebody who could do it alone and was totally original. He was combining elements of blues and hillbilly sounds before anyone else had thought of it.

“He recorded at the same time as Blind Willie McTell but he wasn’t just another white boy singing black. That was his great genius and he was there first… he sang in a plaintive voice and style and he’s outlasted them all.”

It is reported in some quarters that Bob also recorded Muleskinner Blues.  If I find a copy of that by Bob, I’ll do a review.

An index of the reviews in the Why Does Dylan Like series can be found here.

What else is here?

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.

There is an alphabetic index to the 550+ Dylan compositions reviewed on the site which you will find it here.  There are also 500+ other articles on different issues relating to Dylan.  The other subject areas are also shown at the top under the picture.

We also have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook which mostly relates to Bob Dylan today.  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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1 Response to Why does Bob Dylan like “My Blue Eyed Jane”

  1. Hello, the “second” version that Dylan recorded at the same session(s) as the one you included above is as a matter of fact the “officially released” track appearing on “The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers A tribute” and the vocals (which are nearly identical) are by Dylan alone (without background vocals by Emmylou Harris). The version above corresponds to the one which can be found for instance on GENUINE BOOTLEG SERIES Vol. 3. Both versions are the first two tracks of the bootleg HARD TO FIND Vol. 5. The two versions are supposedly the same recording but carrying two different vocal tracks recorded at a latter date (see Björner pages, for year 1994).
    Daniel

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