Dylan’s ballads and blues

Dylan has written moving love ballads that avoid all clichés. Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased, 1989-2006 is now available for free online listening. (Thanks, Eamonn.)

Here are gorgeous Red River Shore and Mississippi, a perfect blues song, with the lyrics and a few translations (mouseover the blue words):

Mississippi

Every step of the way we walk the line
Your days are numbered, so are mine
Time is pilin’ up, we struggle and we scrape
We’re all boxed in, nowhere to escape

City’s just a jungle, more games to play
Trapped in the heart of it, trying to get away
I was raised in the country, I been workin’ in the town
I been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down

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

All my powers of expression and thoughts so sublime
Could never do you justice in reason or rhyme
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Well, the devil’s in the alley, mule’s in the stall
Say anything you wanna, I have heard it all
I was thinkin’ about the things that Rosie said
I was dreaming I was sleeping in Rosie’s bed

Walking through the leaves, falling from the trees
Feeling like a stranger nobody sees
So many things that we never will undo
I know you’re sorry, I’m sorry too

Some people will offer you their hand and some won’t
Last night I knew you, tonight I don’t
I need somethin’ strong to distract my mind
I’m gonna look at you ’til my eyes go blind

Well I got here following the southern star
I crossed that river just to be where you are
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Well my ship’s been split to splinters and it’s sinking fast
I’m drownin’ in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it’s light and it’s free
I’ve got nothin’ but affection for all those who’ve sailed with me

Everybody movin’ if they ain’t already there
Everybody got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now

My clothes are wet, tight on my skin
Not as tight as the corner that I painted myself in
I know that fortune is waitin’ to be kind
So give me your hand and say you’ll be mine

Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Copyright ©1997 Special Rider Music

Red River Shore

Some of us turn off the lights and we live
In the moonlight shooting by
Some of us scare ourselves to death in the dark
To be where the angels fly
Pretty maids all in a row lined up
Outside my cabin door
I’ve never wanted any of them wanting me
‘Cept the girl from the Red River shore

Well, I sat by her side and for a while I tried
To make that girl my wife
She gave me her best advice and she said
“Go home and lead a quiet life.”
Well, I’ve been to the east and I’ve been to the west
And I’ve been out where the black winds roar
Somehow, though, I never did get that far
With the girl from the Red River shore

Well, I knew when I first laid eyes on her
I could never be free
One look at her and I knew right away
She should always be with me
Well, the dream dried up a long time ago
Don’t know where it is anymore
True to life, true to me
Was the girl from the Red River shore

Now I’m wearing the cloak of misery
And I’ve tasted jilted love
And the frozen smile upon my face
Fits me like a glove
But I can’t escape from the memory
Of the one that I’ll always adore
All those nights when I lay in the arms
Of the girl from the Red River shore

Well, we’re living in the shadows of a fading past
Trapped in the fires of time
I’ve tried not to ever hurt anybody
And to stay out of a life of crime
And when it’s all been said and done
I never did know the score
One more day is another day away
From the girl from the Red River shore

Well, I’m a stranger here in a strange land
But I know this is where I belong
I’ll ramble and gamble for the one I love
And the hills will give me a song
Though nothing looks familiar to me
I know I’ve stayed here before
Once, a thousand nights ago
With the girl from the Red River shore

Well, I went back to see about it once
Went back to straighten it out
Everybody that I talked to had seen us there
Said they didn’t know who I was talking about
Well, the sun went down on me a long time ago
I’ve had to fall back from the door
I wish I could have spent every hour of my life
With the girl from the Red River shore

Now, I’ve heard of a guy who lived a long time ago
A man full of sorrow and strife
Whenever someone around him died and was dead
He knew how to bring ’em on back to life
Well, I don’t know what kind of language he used
Or if they do that kind of thing anymore
Sometimes I think nobody ever saw me here at all
‘Cept the girl from the Red River shore

Copyright ©1997 Special Rider Music

Bob Dylan

Published by

Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

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