From a Buick 6: a clash of chords and a link to Yo La Tengo

by Tony Attwood

This is a classic rhythm and blues in the “12 bar” style (there are of course not 12 bars in most latter day 12 bar blues, but the structure is always called that).  And I particularly like the alternative version linked to below, which somehow seems to have a particular vigour and energy that refreshes the lyrics after 50 years of knowing the song.  Mind you we are listening not only to Bob Dylan sing the lyrics, but also Al Kooper on organ and Mike Bloomfield playing guitar, so it ought to be good.  Which of course it is.

The lyrics are just a bit of fun about a woman who does everything for the man; she might not be a great beauty and he might not love her with utter devotion, but she really looks after him and the child and no matter what sort of mess he gets into, she’s there to get him out.

But there is subtlety here too as on the album version Mike Bloomfield decides to do his own thing and in the last line of each verse after the first, as he changes the chord he is playing away from what we would expect in the classic 12 bar format.  Maybe he forgot how it went (so extremely unlikely it is unimaginable), maybe he just decided to do his own thing, or maybe he tried it and Bob said “yes do that”.  It gives a discordant feel as the verse comes to the end, adding a sort of extra jaggedness which very much fits with the lyrics.

Even more interestingly, for me but probably no one else, the extraordinary Eyolf Østrem doesn’t comment on this in his Dylan chords review, but a commentator on Wiki heard it.  Which makes me wonder if it is really there.  I’m starting to doubt myself.

This variation doesn’t occur in the alternative version below – but then because of the speed this variant version has a lot more to say in the the repeated “bound to put a blanket on my bed.”   I am not sure that Bob is particularly known for his alliteration, and in the album version somehow the repeated “b” words make far less impact, but on the alternative version it is hard to miss them.

Plus it is a song where the lyrics can be changed – in the variant version for example she walks like Rimbaud rather than Bo Diddley.  I know how Bo Diddley walked, but Rimbaud?  I wonder if there is any note of his gait.


In many ways it is a song in great contrast to the rest of the album, which runs of course from “Like a Rolling Stone” to “Desolation Row,” and this song has always seemed somewhat out of place tucked between “It takes a lot to laugh” and “Thin Man”.   But maybe that was the point.

Also I find it interesting that the album presents the songs pretty much in the order that they were recorded between June 16 and August 4.  I am not sure that has happened very often with Dylan.  I am sure someone knows (to save me checking each song in turn).

As a postscript, since I was looking around for anyone else who hears the clash of chords and bass at the end of the later verses, I stumbled across the Wiki legacy comment which I found rather interesting.  In relation to this, one of the Wiki editors wrote, in July 2017.

Maybe the editor was having a bad day as I rather like the listing.  Mind you Wiki editors once banned Untold Dylan from the whole of Wikipedia for not being authoritative enough  to comment, so it seems they can be quite a crouchy bunch.

So, just in case someone at Wiki decides to take the “indiscriminate collection” down, here, preserved for as long as this site exists, is indeed an indiscriminate collection of miscellaneous information which I rather enjoyed.

  • The name of a 2002 novel by Stephen King, From a Buick 8 is adapted from the title of this song.
  • The track “From a Motel 6” on the 1993 Yo La Tengo album Painful is a nod to the title of this song.
  • The Billy Bragg song “From a Vauxhall Velox” on the 1984 album Brewing Up with Billy Bragg was written as a response to “From a Buick 6”.
  • In an Apple presentation held in 2006, Steve Jobs noted that this was his favorite track of all time.

And just to take a left turn, Yo La Tengo’s song is reminiscent of Dandy Warhols in their prime.  Maybe its not for you, but, well I love it.  If you play it and like it, stay with the rest of the album.

You shouldn’t hide but you always do
Cause even when you’re gone I can see right through
You want disconnection
You want me there enough for two


What else is on the site

1: Over 480 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


  1. The link to “From a Buick 6” linked above is from a Sept. 3, 1965 performance at the Hollywood Bowl; Bloomfield did not play the gig.

  2. “die young and leave behind a pretty corpse”. ‘buick 6’ virtually mythologizes a “one-percenter” which back then didn’t mean multibillionaire but a fast-living/ hard-riding/ speed-shooting biker or hot rodder–a road outlaw so bad azz that his graveyard woman fills in for mom, ha ha. the narrator is yet isn’t Dylan; he’s sort of goofing on his motorcycle trip. some great images like ‘junkyard angel’ (very ginsbergian), but it’s the berserko musical break that makes the track, Dylan’s frenetic harp and Bloomfield’s wailing axe on a chickee run.

  3. Rimbaud died of cancer, his swollen right leg amputated shortly before his death.

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