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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