By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood
We (which is to say Aaron) has/have found a Dylan co-composition which we have missed; a third Dylan/Ginsberg track.
Ginsberg wrote the poem after he visited the War victims of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, on Jessore Road in 1971.
Dylan wrote the music and played piano, organ, acoustic and electric guitars. A one minute 17 seconds excerpt was originally issued as a Flexi disc given away with Sing Out magazine in 1972. The complete performance was eventually issued in 1994 on Ginsberg’s Holy Soul, Jelly Roll box set.
Now what is interesting is that this semi-spoken approach with a sparse accompaniment preludes “Rough and Rowdy Ways” by 38 years. And yes, of course the approach is different in detail and style, “Rough and Rowdy” being much more spaced out, and the final effect is very different. Yet the technique of making the melody secondary to the accompaniment is similar.
That is not to say we might suggest Dylan thought back to this piece when composing his 21st century epic, but rather the experimental route that came to fruition in 2020 was touched upon all those years before.
Of course many people turn away quickly from Ginsburg, not grasping why Dylan worked with the man, but we would urge everyone to try this, and not turn it off after a few seconds. It is a remarkable composition, and a rare insight into Bob Dylan, the musical arranger.
Here are the lyrics
September on Jessore Road Millions of babies watching the skies Bellies swollen, with big round eyes On Jessore Road--long bamboo huts Noplace to shit but sand channel ruts Millions of fathers in rain Millions of mothers in pain Millions of brothers in woe Millions of sisters nowhere to go One Million aunts are dying for bread One Million uncles lamenting the dead Grandfather millions homeless and sad Grandmother millions silently mad Millions of daughters walk in the mud Millions of children wash in the flood A Million girls vomit & groan Millions of families hopeless alone Millions of souls nineteenseventyone homeless on Jessore road under grey sun A million are dead, the million who can Walk toward Calcutta from East Pakistan Taxi September along Jessore Road Oxcart skeletons drag charcoal load past watery fields thru rain flood ruts Dung cakes on treetrunks, plastic-roof huts Wet processions Families walk Stunted boys big heads don't talk Look bony skulls & silent round eyes Starving black angels in human disguise Mother squats weeping & points to her sons Standing thin legged like elderly nuns small bodied hands to their mouths in prayer Five months small food since they settled there on one floor mat with small empty pot Father lifts up his hands at their lot Tears come to their mother's eye Pain makes mother Maya cry Two children together in palmroof shade Stare at me no word is said Rice ration, lentils one time a week Milk powder for warweary infants meek No vegetable money or work for the man Rice lasts four days eat while they can Then children starve three days in a row and vomit their next food unless they eat slow. On Jessore road Mother wept at my knees Bengali tongue cried mister Please Identity card torn up on the floor Husband still waits at the camp office door Baby at play I was washing the flood Now they won't give us any more food The pieces are here in my celluloid purse Innocent baby play our death curse Two policemen surrounded by thousands of boys Crowded waiting their daily bread joys Carry big whistles & long bamboo sticks to whack them in line They play hungry tricks Breaking the line and jumping in front Into the circle sneaks one skinny runt Two brothers dance forward on the mud stage Teh gaurds blow their whistles & chase them in rage Why are these infants massed in this place Laughing in play & pushing for space Why do they wait here so cheerful & dread Why this is the House where they give children bread The man in the bread door Cries & comes out Thousands of boys and girls Take up his shout Is it joy? is it prayer? "No more bread today" Thousands of Children at once scream "Hooray!" Run home to tents where elders await Messenger children with bread from the state No bread more today! & and no place to squat Painful baby, sick shit he has got. Malnutrition skulls thousands for months Dysentery drains bowels all at once Nurse shows disease card Enterostrep Suspension is wanting or else chlorostrep Refugee camps in hospital shacks Newborn lay naked on mother's thin laps Monkeysized week old Rheumatic babe eye Gastoenteritis Blood Poison thousands must die September Jessore Road rickshaw 50,000 souls in one camp I saw Rows of bamboo huts in the flood Open drains, & wet families waiting for food Border trucks flooded, food cant get past, American Angel machine please come fast! Where is Ambassador Bunker today? Are his Helios machinegunning children at play? Where are the helicopters of U.S. AID? Smuggling dope in Bangkok's green shade. Where is America's Air Force of Light? Bombing North Laos all day and all night? Where are the President's Armies of Gold? Billionaire Navies merciful Bold? Bringing us medicine food and relief? Napalming North Viet Nam and causing more grief? Where are our tears? Who weeps for the pain? Where can these families go in the rain? Jessore Road's children close their big eyes Where will we sleep when Our Father dies? Whom shall we pray to for rice and for care? Who can bring bread to this shit flood foul'd lair? Millions of children alone in the rain! Millions of children weeping in pain! Ring O ye tongues of the world for their woe Ring out ye voices for Love we don't know Ring out ye bells of electrical pain Ring in the conscious of America brain How many children are we who are lost Whose are these daughters we see turn to ghost? What are our souls that we have lost care? Ring out ye musics and weep if you dare-- Cries in the mud by the thatch'd house sand drain Sleeps in huge pipes in the wet shit-field rain waits by the pump well, Woe to the world! whose children still starve in their mother's arms curled. Is this what I did to myself in the past? What shall I do Sunil Poet I asked? Move on and leave them without any coins? What should I care for the love of my loins? What should we care for our cities and cars? What shall we buy with our Food Stamps on Mars? How many millions sit down in New York & sup this night's table on bone & roast pork? How many millions of beer cans are tossed in Oceans of Mother? How much does She cost? Cigar gasolines and asphalt car dreams Stinking the world and dimming star beams -- Finish the war in your breast with a sigh Come tast the tears in your own Human eye Pity us millions of phantoms you see Starved in Samsara on planet TV How many millions of children die more before our Good Mothers perceive the Great Lord? How many good fathers pay tax to rebuild Armed forces that boast the children they've killed? How many souls walk through Maya in pain How many babes in illusory pain? How many families hollow eyed lost? How many grandmothers turning to ghost? How many loves who never get bread? How many Aunts with holes in their head? How many sisters skulls on the ground? How many grandfathers make no more sound? How many fathers in woe How many sons nowhere to go? How many daughters nothing to eat? How many uncles with swollen sick feet? Millions of babies in pain Millions of mothers in rain Millions of brothers in woe Millions of children nowhere to go November 14-16, 1971
We’re adding this to the list of Dylan compositions which takes us up to 621 songs with 620 reviewed.
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