Songs about Bob Dylan: the Americana tracks

By Aaron Galbraith

In this series we are looking at songs about Bob Dylan.   Recently we have covered…

For our next trick…let’s look at some Americana tracks…

First up

Rex Foster’s “Thinkin About Bob Dylan”

I must say right from the start that I love the Rex Foster track. The track appears on his second album “Artist” in 1991. The whole album is fantastic, his voice is like a warm hug, go check it out, and it’s available in its entirety on YouTube. It also includes an excellent take of “Song To Woody”.

Now here’s an interesting true story The song was playing on the radio station KFAN in the San Antonio area when someone called in and said he was Bob Dylan and wanted to know where he could buy Rex’s CD. Later that morning the owner of a local record store that carried the disc called the radio station to say, “Guess who was just in my store? Bob Dylan! and he just bought the Rex Foster album!”

Rex had a very interesting career, his first album “Roads of Tomorrow” came out in 1970 and then he attempted a follow up which didn’t appear. He moved into jewelry design (you can check out his work on line – he has designed for Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Sting amongst others). He then came back in 1990 and has since released 9 albums, including that long lost second album from back in the day, which also included an excellent version of “Only A Hobo”. I guess, as he said “he hadn’t come into my own time” yet.

Again, no lyrics available online for “Thinkin About Bob Dylan” so I had a bash at them myself. I couldn’t figure out one person’s name towards the end.

I’m sitting around thinking about Bob Dylan
Get me in trouble quick
You see old Bobby he’s a genius
And around here they just call me Stick

In the old days I tried to follow
And I wrote a lot of strange lines
But my images were hollow
I hadn’t found my own time
I hadn’t come into my own time

Now he’s just a coupla days older than me
And he learned his from the streets
Me I was raised in the backwoods
And I learned mine from the creek

And I’m thinking about Bob Dylan
And I think about old Hank Williams
And I talk to Peter Rowan every chance I get
About the end
Or is it the beginning

And I spent my time in the city
Just to get a reference point
And decipher all the screaming
Get a feel for the joint

And I found it was simple
Yeah and I found it was true
If I just get myself out of my way
Then maybe I’ll know what to do

Like unplug the television
And unload my gun
Spend time teaching my children
About the days to come

And I’m thinking about Bob Dylan
And I think about Nostradamus
And I talk to Townes Van Zandt every chance I get
About the end
Or is it the beginning

Well now I love my old pal Bob Dylan
And I hear he’s on the road again
I hope he stops by the house
To compare notes on the end

Like is in going to be a hanging
Or just another dance
And is there really enough time left
Or are we just going to kick back and grin

And I’m thinking about Bob Dylan
And I think about Crazy Horse
And I talk to Jerry Jeff every chance I get
About the end
Or is it the beginning

And I’m thinking about Bob Dylan
And I think about Katsy Quadil (??)
And I talk to Peter Yarrow every chance I get
About the end
Or is it the beginning

And I’m thinking about Bob Dylan
And I think about John Wayne
And I talk to Mom and dad every chance I get
About the end
Or is it the beginning

Next Ryan Bingham – “Dylan’s Hard Rain”

Bingham is one of a select group of people (along with Bob Dylan) to win a Grammy, Golden Globe and an Oscar. Bingham’s was for the track “The Weary Kind” produced by T Bone Burnett for the acclaimed film “Crazy Heart”. As it is an excellent piece of work I might as well add it here.

“Dylan’s Hard Rain” appeared on his second album “Roadhouse Sun” in 2009. Again, check out the whole album as it is really something special

The song itself a fairly self explanatory anti war piece set to some Byrds-esque accompaniment. It very successfully brings Dylan’s own “Hard Rain” message up to date, almost 50 years later.

His fans later persuaded him to record a version of “Hard Rain” itself as part of his online Bootleg series.

Here are the lyrics to “Dylan’s Hard Rain”

Well, I'm a homeless man
With my thumb in the wind
I sure miss my kin but then again
I'm on the road with a song for you

I took a step, I lost a bet
They cut off my tongue, now they're full of regret
Careful what you say
If they ain't gonna listen anyway

Just make the cash, bet on the past
Everybody's so afraid to be last
You can't take back everythin' you leave behind

Is everybody so ashamed
For lettin' it all slide?
Is everybody so afraid?
Mr. Dylan's Hard Rain was fair warnin'

On a shake down in the alley
Breakin' people's faces, gonna start you up a rally
I've never seen a day in the sun with the gun
That's loaded for you

There's some hippies in the back room
Rockin' and a-rollin' and a-smokin' to an old tune
Someone took the guitar and a match
And set peace on fire

Hey my brother, what is wrong?
You lost all your money on the corner rollin' bones
Give him your cash, motherfucker
He's too fast for you

Is everybody so ashamed
For lettin' it all slide?
Is everybody so afraid?
Mr. Dylan's Hard Rain was fair warnin'

On the TV, there's a white man
Too much make up on his wife with God's plan
I guess the religious vote made it to Congress

And on the border of Tijuana
People are growin' truck loads of marijuana
Maybe someday our friends will be American farmers

Then the necklace in the south
A few hopeless people still hangin' it around
The wind's gonna cut you down in the long run

Is everybody so ashamed
For lettin' it all slide?
I won't be afraid
Mr. Dylan's Hard Rain is where it's pourin' in, fair warnin'

So can we save us from today?
The hands of the wretched are the ones gettin' paid
Everythin' stays the same, if you don't change it

And all the dreams will bust at the seam
It all goes down in the mighty machine
You don't care now, but someday you might need it

I heard the whistle start to blowin'
Then I saw the mountain in the back come tumblin'
Everybody's wishin' they could get out of the way
Everybody's wishin' they could dig their ass out of the grave

Rod MacDonald – “ I Am Bob Dylan”

 

Next up it’s Rod MacDonald with his “I Am Bob Dylan”. He is an independent artist and has appeared on stage with amongst others Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow, Odetta and Tom Paxton. Apparently he was the first American artist to tour the Czech Republic.

Anyway, this track appears on his 9th album “A Tale Of Two Americas” in 2005.

in the last ten minutes five people have asked me
are you bob dylan?
are you bob dylan?
so i thought i'd come clean in case it was you who asked me
i am bob dylan
i am bob dylan
and all i need to know is
what are you lookin' at?
yeah, what are you lookin' at?
in the last two weeks ten people have asked me
are you somebody?
are you anybody?
do ya think i look like bob dylan for nothin'?
I am somebody yes,
I am anybody and all i need to know is
what are you lookin' at?
yeah, what are you lookin' at?
in the new millennium, the people will ask you
are you with somebody?
are you with anybody?
so if anybody asks you, you can just tell them
you're with bob dylan
say you're with bob dylan
and all i need to know is
what are you lookin' at?
yeah, what are you lookin' at?

He is also lead singer of the band Big Brass Bed which has released 3 albums of Dylan covers. Here is their take of “High Water”.

 

Now as a “bonus track” to the Americana songs I’ll throw Wilco’s “Bob Dylan’s 49th Beard” at the end here, just because I love it so much!

It’s an almost perfect break up song, here it is performed live and solo by writer Jeff Tweedy.

 

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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2 Responses to Songs about Bob Dylan: the Americana tracks

  1. jumprightin says:

    That’s probably “Quetzalcoatl.”

  2. Aaron G says:

    Thanks! I would never have got that!

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