Bob Dylan And The Guitar-Picking Carl Perkins

by Larry Fyffe

Though I no longer have any cents, here’s my two pennies’ worth for the river that whispers and complains, “I’ve hardly a penny to my name” (Tell Old Bill).

Singer/songwriter/musician Bob Dylan has always had a sense of humour – often black and bleak – that pokes fun at the optimism of the Romantic Transcendentalist poets of yore, like the semi-realist Walt Whitman.

Seems you can take the country boy out of the country, but not the country out of the country boy.

Or maybe you can – as expressed in the rockabilly song lyrics below:

You can take the boy out of the country
But you'll never take the country from me
I keep my feet in the sand
And give me wide open land
That's where I need to be
(Carl Perkins: You Can Take The Boy Out Of The Country)

Getting the little doggie along to the fast-moving city just might not be such a bad idea:

Oh baby, I'm sitting here wondering
Will a matchbox hold my clothes
I ain't got no matches
I got a long way to go
(Carl Perkins: Matchbox)

Below a Dylan version thereof (he also does a rendition with Johnny Cash):

Well I'm sitting here wondering
Will a matchbox hold my clothes
I ain't got so many matches
But I got so far to go
(Bob Dylan: Matchbox)

With similar hyperbolic imagery popping up in the following lyrics about a lady supposedly from the rural lowlands:

With your silhouette when the sunlight dims
Into your eyes where the moonlight swims
And your match-book songs, and your gypsy hymns
Who among them would try to impress you
(Bob Dylan: Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands)

Along with the following Baroque poetic imagery:

You want spectacles: your eyes are dim
Turn inside out, and turn your eyes within
Your sins like motes in the sun do swim ....
(Edward Taylor: The Accusation Of The Inward Man)

In the lyrics below, Dylan does not throw Romantic Transcendental sentiment from the mix altogether:

If not for you
Baby, I'd lay awake all night
Wait for the morning light
To shine in through
But it would not be new
If not for you
(Bob Dylan: If Not For You)

Just maybe – or not – the country boy should have stayed down on the farm:

Well, I've been to  London, and I been to gay Paree
I followed the river, and got to the sea
I've been to the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain't looking for nothing in anyone's eyes
(Bob Dylan: Not Dark Yet)

The humour of it all is that both Perkins and Dylan borrow bits and pieces from the song lyrics quoted below:

How far to the river, walk down by the sea
I got those tadpoles and minnows all in over me ....
I sitting here wondering will a matchbox hold my clothes
I ain't got so many matches, but I got so far to go
(Blind Lemon Jefferson: Matchbox Blue)

12 years of Untold Dylan

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3 Responses to Bob Dylan And The Guitar-Picking Carl Perkins

  1. Larry fyffe says:

    Carl Perkin’s ‘Matchbox’ is on “You Tube” here

  2. Larry fyffe says:

    With Harrison accompanying above, Dylan sings:

    If not for you
    The night would see me wide awake
    But the day would surely have to break
    But it would not be new
    If not for you

  3. Larry fyffe says:

    *The day would….

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