Who’s Going To  Throw That Minstrel Boy A Coin

By Larry Fyffe

A sorrowful ballad by an American Romantic “lieder” writer:

Though battered and old
Our hearts are bold
Yet oft do we repine
For the days of old
For the days of gold
For the days of forty-nine
(Joaquin Miller: Forty Nine)

Over time, the lyrics gallop off in different directions –  recorded, for example, by a minstrel cowboy below:

You're gazing now on old Tom Moore
A relic of bygone days
'Tis a bummer too they call me now
But what care I for praise
(Jules Allen: The Days Of Forty-Nine ~ traditional)

Rendered in folk rock:

I'm old Tom Moore from the bummer's shore
In the good old golden days
They call me a bummer, and a gin sot too
But what cares I for praise

(Bob Dylan: Days Of Forty-Nine ~ traditional)

Take what you gather from coincidence – Thomas Moore (prior to the time of the overseas California gold rush) be an Irish writer, a Robbie Burns-like poet who pens the following ballad:

The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you'll find him
His father's sword he has girded on
And his wild harp slung behind him
(Thomas Moore: Minstrel Boy)

An obverse, a light-hearted, response to the lyrics above, as those beneath can be taken:

Who's gonna throw that minstrel boy a coin
Who's gonna let it roll
Who's gonna throw that minstrel boy a coin
Who's gonna let it down easy to save his soul
(Bob Dylan: Minstrel Boy)


An Irish tenor renders Moore’s song in high burlesque style, giving it operatic surgery:

 "Land of song", cried the warrior bard
Though all the world betrays thee
One sound, at least, thy rights shall guard
One faithful heart to praise thee
(John McCormack: Ministrel Boy ~ Moore)

The traditional song below is given an obverse treatment in that the traditional lyrics are ~ “to buckle her shoe”:

And what's it to any man, whether or no
Whether I'm easy, or whether I'm true
And I lifted her petticoat, easy and slow
And I rolled up my sleeves to unbuckle her shoe
(Bob Dylan: Slow And Easy ~ traditional)

The minstrel boy forgets nought:

I must admit that I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe

(Bob Dylan: Tangled Up In Blue)

In the originally recorded song lyrics beneath, the narrator thereof can be understood as addressing an idealized gal with whom he’s looks forward to spending the night:

Throw my ticket out the window
Throw my suitcase out there too
Throw my troubles out the door
I don't need them any more
'Cause tonight I'll be staying here with you
(Bob Dylan: Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You)

In the revised lyrics below, the softness of the country tune above turns hard with the change of music to the rhythm pattern of  rocknroll, and diction composed of consonance ‘rhymes’ ~ “mattress”, “letters”, “little”, “scattered”, “mattered”.

The song’s now from the perspective of a minstrel performer; he addresses a real audience during a one-night stand on stage:

Throw my ticket in the wind
Throw my mattress out there too
Throw my letters in the sand
'Cause you got to understand 
That tonight I'll be staying here with you ....
But I'm feeling a little bit scattered
And your love was all that mattered
(Bob Dylan: Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You, no. II)


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