Hardin And Hardy: The Dylanesque Rhyme Twist (Part II)


See also The Dylanesque Rhyme Twist part one

By Larry Fyffe

In the lyrics of his songs, Bob Dylan often leaves (consciously or subconsciously) a sign in rhyme that directs his listeners to the singer (or poet) he sources.

There be a ‘Dylanesque rhyme twist’ taken from the song below: round’/’ground’:

I’ve been to the east, and I’ve been to the west
I’ve been this whole wide world round
I’ve been to the East River, and I’ve been baptized
Take me to the hanging ground … Lord, Lord
Take me to the hanging ground
(Lead Belly: John Hardy ~ traditional)

Dylan varies the end-rhyme some – ‘around’/’resound’:

All across the telegraph
His name it did resound
But no charge held against him
Could they prove
And there was no man around
Who could track or chain him down
(Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding)

The historical Hardy and Hardin are both killers:

John Hardy he was a desperate little man
He carried two guns every day
He shot a man on a West Virginia line
Oughta seen John Hardy gettin’ away
(Lead Belly: John Hardy)

See Bobby come and go, mixing up the musical medicine show; turning the lyrics of traditional folksongs inside out, and upside down:

John Wesley Harding
was a friend to the poor
He travelled with a gun in every hand
All along the countryside
He opened many a door
(Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding)

A tribute to the singer of the blues pops up in another Dylan song:

Well, I been to the east, and I been to the west
And I been out where the black winds roar
Somehow, though, I never did get that far
With the girl from the Red River Shore
(Bob Dylan: Red River Shore)

In the song lyrics presented below, Dylan provides a proper end-rhyme for one that’s been widowed in a blues song – ‘dawn’/’gone’:

They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn
But every day’s the darkness since you’ve been gone
Little rooster crowin’, there must be somethin’ on his mind
(Bob Dylan: Meet Me In The Morning)

A similar rhyme, Dylan previously employs – ‘dawn’/’on’:

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune, the Titanic sails at dawn
Everybody’s shouting, ‘Which side are you on?”

The blues song – ‘x’/’gone’:

Now, if you’ve seen my little red rooster
Somebody, please run ‘im home
There’s been no peace in the barnyard
Since my little red rooster’s been gone
(Willie Dixon: The Little Red Rooster)

In the following song lyrics, Dylan, ‘twists’ a rhyme from a gospel blue grass song – ‘fall’/’wall’:

They say every man needs protection
They say every man must fall
Yet I see my reflection
Some place so high above this wall
I see my light come shining
(Bob Dylan: I Shall Be Released)

The internal rhyme is in the lyrics of the song below – ‘all’/’walls’:

I saw the light come shining
Come shinin’ all around
When Paul prayed in prison, them prison walls fell down
The prison keeper shouted
‘Redeeming love I found’
(Dry Bones: Bascom Lunsford ~ traditional)

Written in the Holy Bible:

And at midnight, Paul and Simon prayed ….
And suddenly there was a great earthquake
So that the foundations of the prison were shaken
(Acts 16: 25, 26)

Here’s another example of a revitalized ‘rhyme twist’ in a Dylan song – ‘block’/’talk’:

Oh, the ragman draws circles
Up and down the block
I’d ask him what the matter was
But I know that he don’t talk
(Bob Dylan: Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again)

End-rhymes are twisted – ‘walk’/’talk’:

Dry bones in that valley they got up, and took a little walk
The deaf could hear, and the dumb could talk
I saw, I saw the light from heaven
Shinin’ all around
(Dry Bones: Bascom Lunsford)

Listening to the recordings of Lead Belly, Willie Dixon, and Bascom Lunsford has a strong influence on the music and lyrics of Bob Dylan.

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  1. *They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn
    Honey, you wouldn’t know it by me
    Every day’s been darkness since you’ve been gone
    (Bob Dylan: Meet Me In The Morning)

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