Spirit on the water; Riding on the bus. Bob Dylan reinterpreted.

Riding on the bus

by Joost Nillissen

Spirit on the water
Darkness on the face of the deep
I keep thinking about you baby
I can’t hardly sleep

After a gig I get on my 1,5 million dollar bus – so I am told – and now I am on my way to the next. There’s darkness on the face of the deep as I am traveling by land and I must admit: you’re always on my mind. I’d forgotten about you and now here you are. I’m thinking about you again. We had some good times together, a long time ago. I could write a love song about you. Maybe I will; can’t get any sleep tonight.

When you are near – but only when you are near – I’m wild about you and you ought to be a fool about me. That’s a line from somebody else, I could use it right here. But you are not near, you’ve gone away, leaving me to trample through the mud, blood in my face and a burning pain in my heart, you took the key to my brain. When I see your lovely face, it begs for love, but I’ll throw it in the deep blue sea, if you are not with me. Life without you doesn’t mean a thing to me.

I cannot understand why you can’t treat me right, why are you so distant? When we were together I was a thousand times happier, and I didn’t care about the heavy price I had to pay. I fought for you without regret or shame. But we parted and now I hear everybody bragging about you, all over town. Why can’t I have some of that sugar?

I think maybe I’d better lie down. I don’t feel well. Can you see me, pale as a ghost, empty handed but for the flower on a stem. You don’t believe in ghosts, but you are afraid of them. The sun comes up and I am blinded by the colors. Your name is ringing in my ears and I am telling you plain that our ties are strong, even after all these years. I must have slept. I take good care of myself and all that belongs to me.

Ah, that sweet voice, I can hear you call me as if from that old familiar shrine. How could I have let you fade from my mind? I believe we could live together forever, you wouldn’t have to worry about me anymore. I would take you with me from East to West, I want to be with you any way I can. It hasn’t been easy for me, I’m up against the wall. You gotta come with me, because I’m going away for some time. It’s my work you see, I do it for pay. Besides I made that deal, remember? I am keeping up my part. I won’t be back till fall.

You’re not coming? Go up that hill then, Calvary or the Beautiful Mount, so all can see you. Think about me. How you numbed me, made me struggle, made my life a brawl. This love could tear me in two. We’re passing through a place called Paradise, could be Texas, could be Nevada, could be anywhere. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for you and me to be in paradise? I can’t go back there no more. They say I killed a man back there.

Don’t think I am over the hill, don’t think I’m past my prime. I am still keeping up my part of the bargain, the deal we made. I just wrote you a song, so now let me see what you’ve got. We can have a whopping good time.  

You think I’m over the hill
You think I’m past my prime
Let me see what you got
We can have a whoppin’ good time


You might also enjoy  Spirit on the water: Dylan borrows from God, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Ovid.

What else is on the site

  • 1: Over 400 reviews of Dylan songs.  There is an index to these in alphabetical order on the home page, and an index to the songs in the order they were written in the Chronology Pages.
  • 2: The Chronology.  We’ve taken all the songs we can find recordings of and put them in the order they were written (as far as possible) not in the order they appeared on albums.  The chronology is more or less complete and is now linked to all the reviews on the site.  We have also recently started to produce overviews of Dylan’s work year by year.     The index to the chronologies is here.
  • 3: Bob Dylan’s themes.  We publish a wide range of articles about Bob Dylan and his compositions.  There is an index here.  A second index lists the articles under the poets and poetic themes cited – you can find that here.
  • 4:   The Discussion Group    We now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 
  • 5:  Bob Dylan’s creativity.   We’re fascinated in taking the study of Dylan’s creative approach further.  The index is in Dylan’s Creativity.
  • 6: You might also like: A classification of Bob Dylan’s songs and partial Index to Dylan’s Best Opening Lines

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews.


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