Macavity Was There: The Untold Dylan Tapes

Macavity Was There: The Untold Dylan Tapes
By Larry Fyffe

The source of Bob Dylan’s “l’m Not There” lyrics is revealed!

That would be the taped “confession” of the mysterious street-wise, jive-talking cat burglar known as Macavity, as made by the “suspect” to the famous untouchable detective TS Eliot of Scotland Yard.

“It was all because of a dame”, Eliot tells his partner Sam Spade, as the untouchable head of the investigation locks the tape in a vault at Scotland Yard.

Supposedly unobserved, and peering in the window is master thief Bob Dylan.

The transcript of that tape (edited to protect the innocent) is presented here; note how closely the lyrics of Dylan’s song follow what Scotland Yard  labels the “suspect’s confession” (suggesting a link between TS Eliot and Bob Dylan).

(Beginning of the Scotland Yard tape)

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat, he’s called the Hidden Paw –
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard,
the Flying Squad’s despair
For when they reach the scene of the crime – Macavity’s not there

She came all right-toned and she’s all too tight in my neighbourhood
She cried both day and night
I know because it was there
It’s a milestone, but she’s down on her luck
And she daily salooning, but to me too
hot to book
I would then

You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air –
But I tell you once and once again,
Macavity’s not there

No I don’t belong to her I don’t belong to every choir
She’s my prize forsaken angel but she don’t hear me cry
She’s a long-hearted mystic and she
can’t carry on
When I there she’s alright but when she’s not when I’m gone
Heaven knows that the answers she don’t calling no one
She’s the way for sailing beautiful
She’s mine for the one
And I lost her attention by temptation as it runs
But she don’t bother me
But I’m not there I’m gone

You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed
He sways his head from side to side with movement like a snake
And when you think he’s half asleep he’s always wide awake

Now I’ve cried tonight like I cried the night before
And I’m leased on the high some
But I dream about the door
It’s so long she’s foresaken by a fate with the tale
It don’t hang approximation
She smiled “Fare Thee Well”

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity
For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square
But when a crime’s discovered, then
Macavity’s not there

But she knows the kingdom weighs so high above her
And I run but I wait
And it’s not too fast or slam
But I’ll not perceive her
I’m not there I’m gone

He’s outwardly respectable (they say he cheats at cards)
And his footprints are not found in any file at Scotland’s Yard
And when the larder’s empty, or the jewel case is rifled….
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair
Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there

Well it’s hard to stake in
And I don’t far believe
It’s a bag full it’s amusing
That she’s hard too hard to lead
It’s a load it’s a crime
The way she mauled me around

But it’s useless to investigate – Macavity’s not there
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
It must have been Macavity – but he’s a mile away
You’ll be sure to find him resting or
a-licking of his thumb
Or engaged in doing complicated long
division sums

Well it’s all about division
And I cry for a bail
I don’t need anybody now beside me to tell
And it’s all affirmation I received but it’s not
She’s a long haunting beauty
But she’s gone like a spark
And she’s gone

(End of Scotland Yard’s “confession” tape)

So what really happened at the scene of the  crime? Nobody really knows; a trial’s held, but because the tape was stolen, the jury is locked.

Oh, mama, can this really be the end?

You might also enjoy

I’m not there


And for further reading: Untold Dylan – the site index


  1. Javier, you are indeed presumptious! I don’t consider Cevantes Anglo-Saxon, do you????

    As well DNA test reveals I have a connection to the Iberian peninsula somewhere along the family trail.

  2. And obviously people do appreciate Bob’s figurative language in spite of what you say…. whether or not they could or would be bothered puting that into precise written words or not……give’m credit, won’t you?

  3. Macavity is known by police to also go by the name of Macheath and Mack The Knife.

  4. To repeat – the police tape is not all that clear and the printed version above is only an approximation of what’s said in the deliberately evasive so-called ‘confession’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *