Dylan’s “Medicine Sunday” while moving to being temporary, like Achilles

By Tony Attwood

This was another piece from 1965 that was created around the time of “Jet Pilot” and “Can you please crawl out your window.”  Jet Pilot got nowhere, “Can you please” became a single – the follow up to “4th Street” but not as popular, and “Medicine Sunday” ultimately converted itself into Temporary Like Achilles, which used both elements of the melody, and the final line of “Medicine Sunday”.   Here is the full, total and complete set of lyrics…

Well, that midnight train pulled on all down the track
You’re standing there watching, with your hands tied behind your back
And you smile so pretty, and nod to the prison guard
Well, I know you want my loving, mama but you’re so hard

And here it is

Trains, railroads, trains – it was a constant theme of Bob’s at the time.  Maybe someone could create a list of all the songs of Dylan that have railroad connotations.   Just for the hell of it.

So the story is that Dylan had got together with the Hawks in Toronto in September 1965 and they played as an ensemble in Texas nine days later.

Two weeks after that they went to a studio in New York with the aim of producing the follow up to “Positively 4th Street” while seeing what else could be conjured up as a follow up to Highway 61 Revisited.

Two run throughs of “Medicine Sunday” emerged and after that they went onto another new song “Freeze out” which became “Visions of Johanna” as well as polishing off  “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?”  So a fairly productive time.

Later Midnight Train (the phrase from the first line of the song) became a bootleg album intended for release in Germany, consisting of  eight recordings from various Dylan studio sessions, including this snippet of a song, and two live performances.  And in an interesting twist the notes on the album sleeve were in part taken from the All Music Guide, an online reference I often use, and through which I found this bootleg album.  (It weren’t me that stole the details, honest).

What else is on the site

1: Over 470 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 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 produced 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.

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 our articles on various writers’ lists of Dylan’s ten greatest songs.

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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