The Rough and Rowdy Ways conclusion: Love Sick and It Takes a Lot to Laugh

I don’t know what it means either: an index to the current series appearing on this website.

The Rough and Rowdy Ways Tour: Commentary by Tony Attwood, audio kindly provided by Mr Tambourine.

Love Sick

Lover Sick starts at 3.20.56

The opening staccato chords are enough to tell us what the song is going to be.  And the accent Bob puts on words such as “brain” tells us that this is going to be a re-run of the recorded version with what has by now become the variations limited to the vocals rather than within the music.

And just in case you feel that this is how it always is on Bob’s tours, and this tour is no different from all the others, may I refer you back a few articles to the exploration of the way Bob ultimately developed an earlier song: Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum – an unbelievable journey

But now back to this piece: everything here focuses on the title – Bob’s voice really does tell us he is sick of love.  If we didn’t believe him before, we do now.

Now at this point the recording kindly put together by Mr Tambourine continues with recordings of the songs we have already looked at in this series, and so my intention from the start of this little series has been to get to here and then leave you to enjoy those songs and the others that turn up subsequently.

For example, at 4.02.30 there is Simple Twist of Fate, and 4.10.51 we have I’ll be your baby tonight.  But I can’t let the series go without leaping forward to 4:30.07.  You will know the song at once from the opening two chords, but here we have a slow blues version of “It takes a lot to laugh it takes a train to cry”.   It is not a radical rewrite but it is an arrangement that is utterly, utterly, full of feeling and does give new insights.

With a bit of luck the track might play immediately on the link below…

And really this performance makes a point that I have been increasingly aware of since starting this blog: that in trying to express thoughts about Bob’s work, any attempt I might make to hear the work afresh is always tempered by my personal relationship with the song which began of course from the first time I heard it and continue through my life.

For me, every Dylan song is not just a song to be heard once more, but a journey back through the years from the first listening on the album, through live performances and of late the videos we now have access to.

So for me this version of “Train,” as with so many other Dylan songs, is a personal experience utterly wound up with my life.  If I’d been there I’d have been cheering just like everyone at the show.

And thus I will leave you to enjoy the rest of the recordings, and once more express my eternal thanks to Mr Tambourine for providing this set of recordings to Untold Dylan and giving me the OL to use his compilation.  I am once more in your debt, sir.


  1. That particular songs are to be judged mightily as related to one’s own experiences growing up is to deny their worthiness as piece of art in and of itself. That is, if a song does not so relate, it’s easily tossed aside.

    Simply put, however, not everyone’s experiences are the same. The song can be taken to mean different things by different people. Not shut up forever in a trunk.

    It’s not that the song if it makes no sense to the listener/ analyst, then it must be the result of the songster’s bad writing style. Don’t Forget that Dylan grows up in a Jacques Derrida Poststructialist era, and he’s not chained to the rigid rules of Structuralism..ambiguity and unclear shifting points of view pervade many of Dylan’s song lyrics. Not just me either who notes this fact.

    He may be just sick of love songs.

  2. The invisible worm
    That flies in the night
    In the howling storm
    Has found out thy bed
    (The Sick Rose: William Blake)

    For the rather ambiguous poet above, love and desire is depicted destroyed whether it be by external sociopolitico edicts or by physical disease.

    But there’s worse:

    I’m walking through the streets that are dead
    Walking, walking with you in my head
    (Love Sick: Bob Dylan)

    Destroyed by the constructed feeling of individual humans to control and possess another.

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