Card Shark by Bob Dylan. A curious little number.

By Tony Attwood

This is, according to the record kept by my computer, article number 1000 on Untold Dylan.   The very first article  a review of Mississippi – one of the all time great Dylan compositions in my opinion.

Article number 1000 however doesn’t have the same pazzazz in its lyrical creation.  There is no “Every step of the way, you walk the line”.  No quartet of lines that just stick forever in the mind like

Got nothing for you, I had nothing before
Don’t even have anything for myself anymore
Sky full of fire, pain pourin’ down
Nothing you can sell me, I’ll see you around

No, what we have here are, well, lines that simply don’t tell me anything much.  And let me emphasis at once that this is just my view – I’ll be delighted to get a deeper vision of this song if you can show me the way in.

Take the opening lines for example

There are many kinds of fish that swim in the sea
There’s others that swim in the dark
And of those troupers and trouts and dolphins and whales
The one you must watch is the shark

The reality is that Taylor Goldsmith doesn’t really have too much to work with here.  (He also worked on “Kansas City,” “Liberty Street,” “When I Get My Hands on You,” “Florida Key,” and “Diamond Ring,”  and performed on bass, guitar, mellotron, organ, and piano).  But here there is nothing much – so full marks for having a go.

Here are the full lyrics – and if you don’t know the result of the music you might like to have a read through first to think what you might have done with this…

There are many kinds of fish that swim in the sea
There’s others that swim in the dark
And of those troupers and trouts and dolphins and whales
The one you must watch is the shark

Card shark (yes, m’am)
Get ‘m in the nose
That ol’ card shark

Now I sat me down to have some fun
I jumped in the tank for a spell
I boogalooed in the bunkhouse and saw some bandits on the run
I went down to get water from the well

Card shark (yes, m’am)
Get ‘m in the nose
That ol’ card shark

Now set ‘m up, Samba
Sit on it awhile
Toss in the towel and have a kick
Stick it in the rear and roar for a bit
And waddle down the road like a brick

Card shark (yes, m’am)
Get ‘m in the nose
That ol’ card shark

I have to say that faced with such lyrics it is hard to imagine what anyone could do with them to create a piece worthy of being on an album.  Indeed one wonders if Bob actually looked at the notebook before giving permission for the band to set to work.

I mean would you want to be known for those lyrics?

So there you have it.

I am not too sure if anyone else has attempted to do a review of the song – but if so, maybe they could make more of it than I can.   Anyway, there it is, article number 1000.   Card Shark.

If you have been, thank you for reading.   The full list of the New Basement Tape songs with links to the reviews appears in the 1967 section of Dylan in the 60s.

What else is on the site

You’ll find an index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to the 500+ Dylan compositions reviewed is now on a new page of its own.  You will find it here.  It contains reviews of every Dylan composition that we can find a recording of – if you know of anything we have missed please do write in.

We also have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

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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1 Response to Card Shark by Bob Dylan. A curious little number.

  1. Laura Leivick says:

    Congratulations on hitting 1,000, Tony! (Now there’s something I don’t get to say every day!)

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