The first ever transcription of the lyrics of “More than flesh and blood” by Bob Dylan. (Maybe)

More Than Flesh & Blood

(Please note that I have now incorporated all the incredibly helpful suggestions for the lyrics of the song into the version that is published below.  I can’t say it is a perfect rendition but it is certainly better than the first version I worked on alone!)

By Tony Attwood

According to Heylin the song was rehearsed with Dylan’s touring band and then there was a plan to have it as Springs’ debut solo single, but that never happened.

There is a version of Springs singing it on the web – it is in two places, and both seem a bit slow or difficult in uploading so I am giving both links below in case one doesn’t work for you.

And then the lyrics…   Well, no one seems to have put them up on the internet that I can find, so I have just spent a few hours trying to write them out myself.

Now I do this with a lot of uncertainty, because although I have a moderately good ear for music, when it comes to transcribing lyrics, I am not so clever.  My excuse of course is that I am English, which means sometimes I don’t get the phraseology, and sometimes the accent, and besides sometimes songs are not that clear.

But at least I have had that rare opportunity; to be the first person (maybe) ever (perhaps) to transcribe a Dylan song.   As you find errors, please do correct them and I’ll work on putting up what might ultimately be a generally agreed set of lyrics.

Now a lot of it makes no sense – and I am fully aware of that.  But I’ve put in the words I hear even if there is no sense in them.  (And maybe this is why no one has previously put their head on the block for this song – it is just weird at times.)

With profound thanks to Jack Aldworth and Eduardo Ricardo from Edlis Cafe.

You’re fighting for existence, you hate me cos I'm pure
You put a hurting on me baby and you make me insecure
But to be strong  I must be weak or else I won't endure
I love you, but I love you unaware
And that's more than flesh and blood can bear
More than flesh and blood can bear
I reach for you at midnight just to find you're never there
And its more than flesh and blood can bear

I see you at the party baby trying to converse
The room is going round and round and now it’s in reverse
Don't give into the spirit, the spirit is adverse
Beware because your feeble mind will tear
And that's more than flesh and blood can bear
More than flesh and blood can bear
Don't discard the lily like the garment that you wear
It's more than flesh and blood can bear

Time regards a pretty face like time regards a fool
You drive off in your Cadillac and leave me with the mule
In order to keep up with you I must go back to school
I see that in the wicked way you stare
And that's more than flesh and blood can bear
More than flesh and blood can bear
Do yourself a favour cos I know you're never there
And its more than flesh and blood can bear

I'm going down to find a church that I can understand
I need new inspiration and you're only just a man.
And with the blackjack table I can't play another hand,
The meat you cook for me is blood red rare 
It's more than flesh and blood can bear 
More than flesh and blood can bear 
Take the saddle off your horse and give yourself a chair 
More than flesh and blood can bear.

Here’s the first link to the song.  Give it time to set up as it seems a bit reluctant to play sometimes.

And the second…

So moving on from the lyrics, which have occupied me for far longer than normal, what have a we got?  A bouncy three chord song with hints of concern about the true religion maybe.   IF my understanding of the opening line is right then she’s saying that he’s trying to get into the church, while she is already there.

But no, I’m pushing this too far… and of course given that we don’t know if Dylan wrote it all, or Springs wrote the lyrics or, maybe the music or whatever, it really is too hard to say what’s what and at this stage, everything is a bit of a guess.

And as you will have seen, at the moment I’m completely bemused by the third line from the end of the final verse, and that might hold a clue.

Except that some of the lines that I really think I have got right just don’t make too much sense even when resolved.

If we look at the chronology we can see that the song came straight after “Love you too much” which again has difficulties with the lyrics, because of the suggestion that the version that we now have has all sorts of extra lyrics not in the original.

But Love you too much and More than flesh and blood have a real similarity of meaning.  There is just too much in this relationship, I can’t take it, it is overpowering me.   And that most curious line

Take the saddle off your horse and give yourself a chair

suggests an absolute need to stop everything and find simplicity and stability, and in effect have no more of the turmoil that Dylan had to endure in the divorce, and the fight over custody of the children after the divorce.

Somehow in both these songs there seems to me to be a touch of “can’t we just make this all stop for a moment?”

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  1. Good job. I think the fourth line, third verse should be “I see right through the wicked way you stare” and I think 4th line 4th verse is simply “bloody rare”. Very interesting song. I had never heard of it before.

  2. Hello there Tony, Thank you for posting this analysis of a song from Bob Dylan’s Music Box x Come and join us inside and listen to every song composed, recorded or performed by Bob Dylan, plus all the great covers streaming on YouTube, Spotify, Deezer and SoundCloud plus so much more… including this link.

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