Matthew Met Mary: another lost Bob Dylan song found – complete with recordings.

By Tony Attwood

My absolute thanks to Aaron Galbraith for finding this track.   It is a leftover from The New Basement Tapes collection with lyrics by Dylan of course, and this time music by Elvis Costello. Elvis is believed to have performed it live 8 times, we’ve got two recordings, below.

So, here’s a couple of the live versions..   This first one is not a very good recording but is included because Elvis Costello states “words by Bob Dylan” at the beginning

 

And here is a secnd recording from Leicester in 2015…   The quality is better on this one but the lyrics are less clear.

Aaron has even gone so far as to provide a set of lyrics…. and I am doubly thankful for this because there’s no way I could make a stab at it.

Matthew Met Mary

Matthew met Mary
In a garden on a clear cool market day
Said Mary to Matthew
“I’d like to give my child away”
Said Matthew,
“I got a pheasant farm and I’ll take good care of him
There’s a diamond spring and a big oak tree
And he can climb on every limb
A thousand doors couldn’t hold me back from you”

Said Mary to Matthew
“You know that this may never be
I’m not going to give my child for nothing but an old oak tree”
Just then a man wearing woman’s clothes began to hop around
“So unto you and if I do and then maybe woe unto me
A thousand doors couldn’t hold me back from you”

There’s a diamond spring and a big oak tree
And he can climb on every limb
A thousand doors couldn’t hold me back from you
A thousand doors couldn’t hold me back from you
A thousand doors wouldn’t hold me back from you

Aaron added the comment in supplying us with the music and lyrics,  “I’m not to sure where the line breaks come or even how to split up the verses but this was my best attempt!” and the comment, which I agree with, “A thousand doors wouldn’t hold me back from you is an amazing line don’t you think?”

I think Aaron has done a great job – certainly far better than anything I could have done.

For myself, I think these are some of the strangest Dylan lines I have ever seen – I wonder if they were just a sketch of ideas and lines from Dylan, which, had he wanted to go further, would have been edited and played with.

Certainly when I first looked at “Just then a man wearing woman’s clothes began to hop around” I really couldn’t believe that could be the right representation of the lyrics, but listening again and again I can’t come up with a better suggestion.   Then I thought, “is this some sort of weird verse from the Bible that I’ve never come across before” – but no of course it can’t be.

So just a strange line in what is otherwise a song that is starting to make sense, but which Dylan thought was not going anywhere so left in his notebook.

But whatever is going on in that strange line, it is another Dylan song, so thanks very much to Aaron.   And even better news, there’s another lost track comiing up shortly.

 

 

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3 Responses to Matthew Met Mary: another lost Bob Dylan song found – complete with recordings.

  1. LarryFyffe says:

    Dylan presents a question and answer parable that’s left wide open for interpretation, but it seems everything is up for sale in the market place of modern Babylon.

    Some possible (‘keep it simple, stupid’) interptrations –

    There’s kind-hearted, helpful apostle Matthew, who’s beguiled by a beautiful woman, but something’s amiss – the Devil, the great deceiver, is lurking around:

    “Neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord, thy God” (Deuteronomy 22:5)

    That is, no amount of doors will stop a gowned priest of organized religion from making lots of money off of a story about a mother who claims God ‘knew’ her, and the child ends up getting sacrificed on a wooden cross.

    Or similarly, a dandy-dressed, money-hungry businessmen from taking advantage of an up-and-coming young singer/songwriter.

    Or, perhaps, an innocent child from being taken advantage of by a wealthy homosexual child molester.

    In any event, in Dylan’s parable, Mother Mary, the Madonna, (like Eve of the Bible) gets most of the blame.

  2. LarryFyffe says:

    *interpretations

  3. Aaron G says:

    I like the idea that the man wearing woman’s clothes is a priest. That makes s lot of sense.

    It seems to me that it could be a wedding taking place…they are discussing the terms of the “pre-nup” (if you will!). The priest is thinking “ come on…get in with it!”

    Actually the line after that confuses me also…but now I think of it as a wedding it makes more sense… “ if I Do”?

    A song with an amazing line “ a thousand doors couldn’t hold me back from you” and then some really strange ones that are ripe for all sorts of interpretations!

    Great tune from Elvis too and wonderful performances. I sense he might have been annoyed that this one wasn’t chosen for the album based on how often he has performed it…

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