No Way to Git Along

– This ain’t no way to git along, Honey,
no way to git along. There’s plenty’ll
get in our way, Babe, so let’s git along.

– Life’s no song and dance, it doesn’t
rhyme, and it’s get not git.
– Git is the cowboy variant.
– I once knew a guy named Gil.
– Was he a cowboy?
– Cowboys spell same’s everybody
else. You’re just a romantic fool.

– Git along home, git along down
the line, git to bed, git up and running
coffee and runny scrambled eggs.
Pull out a paper and jot this down,
no way to git along, weary Deary,
no way to get it all back home.

– I ain’t no doggie and even if I was
I don’t like to git get nor gat for
that matter. And this singing
cowboy gig of yours ain’t
worth a saltine cracker
in a bowl of filé gumbo.

– This is no way to git along, my
Shepherdess, no way to git along.
Come ride with me and we’ll mend our
fences and bring the doggies home.

Bob Dylan’s “The Philosophy of Modern Song”: Playlists: Part Two

Bob Dylan has a new book out, titled “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” in which he proffers nonlinear essays of original and freewheeling exegesis of sixty-six mostly 20th century songs. The book is a mosaic of writing and photographs, the pics spread thematically throughout the pages (many from Stock or Getty; tracking them all down to their original source would be a mountainous research climb). There is a table of contents, showing the titles of the songs, but no index. There are no footnotes.

The book should be read aloud. If you’ve heard any of Dylan’s introductions featured in his now defunct Theme Time Radio Hour, you’ll know how the orality of the work is so important to its content. I’m reading the book aloud with Susan evenings this Fall. And I created a playlist on my YouTube Music channel of the sixty-six songs, so that we can listen to each song as we read the Dylan essay on it from the book.

Dylan’s sixty-six songs don’t amount to a best-of list. Each song is approached with a creative reading and listening analysis and appreciation. But why the song was selected, made the list, fished up out of the overstocked pond of popular songs – well, I don’t know. The underlying philosophy might be that any song has a story behind the story, an environment it came out of, that warrants description and understanding and an in depth discursive discussion of its time and place, and some songs lend themselves to this kind of analysis more than others. There is a kind of, not formula, but song archetype that’s uncovered, that might teach us how better to listen.

Here’s the playlist. Give it a listen, and get the book.

The 66 songs from The Philosophy of Modern Song, Bob Dylan, Simon & Schuster, 1 Nov 2022.

This Bird has Flown

Sung to the tune of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”

Must be some way out of here,
said the birdie to the fan.
There’s too much collusion,
I can’t get no peace.
Tycoons pluck my feathers,
bots bugger my burrows,
and the policymakers know
not what anything is worth.

Now let’s not get uptight,
the fan whispered in delight.
The whole point of the site
has always been an in-joke.
What’s trending now changes
peeply, and real Bluechecks
don’t look or follow back.
No one knows what time it is.

All along the virtuality
enabled users awoke.
Social dullsville friends
and fiends came and went.
Outside in the distance
a new reality did growl,
two Martians were approaching,
and the Earth began to howl.

Give Me Oranges

No more blues no more
longing for you
I’ve had it up to here
with salt in my beer
waiting for you
to come back home
your breadcrumb gifts
lead up to my door
no no more blues
I’m sitting at home
not hitting the road
and going it alone
not painting the town
in red white and blue
no no more poems
and no more roams
no no no no more tomes
and no longing tones
no no more blues
I’m going away
but then yet again
today I just may stay
one more day
and then I’ll go on
no more blues for you
in my own bed at home
across the dusty floor
I’ll push a lonely broom
no no more blues
I’ve paid all my dues
besides I’ve not a clue
what I’d do without you
I’d be up a tree
I don’t know how to flee
I’ll never be free
but I’ve paid all my fees
I’ve thrown away the keys
to my orange heart
I’m sitting all alone
at the top of the world
no no more blues
no more longing for you
Chega de Saudade
goodbye sadness
I want peace and beauty
to go away too
anyway peace is far from here
and beauty gone to seed
a kiss is silence
the flicker is still
under the green fern
I’m going to pick it up
and put it in the compost
no no more blues
give me orange and gold
apricots and marigolds
sapphron and yellow
the sober sun of morning.

Note: The lyrics to the song “No More Blues” is an adaptation, or a rewrite, by Jessie Cavanaugh and Jon Hendricks, of the 1957 Bossa song Chega de Saudade, music written by Antônio Carlos Jobim and lyrics by Vinícius de Moraes (O Poetinha, “The little poet” of Brazil). Hundreds of versions have been recorded. Literally translated, chega de saudade would read in English enough of longing. A comparison of Moraes’s original lyrics with those of “No More Blues” shows how interpretive the Cavanaugh Hendricks rewrite of “Chega de Saudade” is, and the two songs seem to be a conversation between the one who went away but hears the call of the one who stayed home. It was while working on “No More Blues” for the jazz band Tunes Tardes that I wound up writing my own “version,” even further from the original, this one a poem, namely, as seen above, “Give Me Oranges.”

I Talk to Myself

I talk to myself,
but I’ve not much to say.
I talk to myself,
just like to say hey.
I talk to myself,
and oh by the way,
I put in a good word for you.

When I’m on the road behind the wheel,
I talk to myself and away I peel.
When I’m standing in line at the DMV
I talk to myself like you wouldn’t believe.

I talk to myself,
but I’ve not much to say.
I talk to myself,
just like to say hey.
I talk to myself,
and oh by the way,
I put in a good word for you.

All around town as I walk down the street
I talk to myself while I meet and greet.
After midnight and I’m awake in bed
I talk to myself in the back of my head.

I talk to myself,
but I’ve not much to say.
I talk to myself,
just like to say hey.
I talk to myself,
and oh by the way,
I put in a good word for you.

Say It Isn’t So

Say it isn’t so
whisper in my ear
it’s so soon for you to go
stay young with me dear
don’t make me grow old

Say it isn’t so
blue eyes once so clear
freckles on your cheeks
falling disappear
your skin where soft as milk

I used to slip the clutch
voluptuous your lips
your grip so loose
say it isn’t so
that now you’ve let go

There is no instant
metamorphosis
when bliss gives way
to the fish flouncing
in the bucket on the pier

Say it isn’t so
we’re all out of bait
you can’t remember
our last happy date
the old commiserate

but must go down alone
say it isn’t so
the best time of the day
when your eyes close
peace comes a wave

bubbles at the shore
at the tideline we talk
unsure is it going out
or coming in
say it isn’t so

The Old Busker

He stood beneath a bank of trees
near the beach of a green spring
the wily busker taking deposits
of fruit in his cowpoke hat basket
a few choice purple cherries
a couple of greenbacks
and a nugget of fool’s gold.

He sang of broken hearts
paper torn into many pieces
litter along the roadway
how love collects like dust
up against the bent guardrails
that’s my heart in pennies
he sang out on the highway.

He worries the strings of his guitar
with his bent wire fingers
flap slaps the hook smacks the box
shapes his fretful music
the earth wants a cover
creeping vines and grasses
if any have many piled carpets.

Starbucks (sung to the tune of “Skylark”)

Starbucks, have you any coffee for me,
can’t you see I am very sleepy,
won’t you tell me where a barista might be,
is there a cappuccino and a table,
an umbrella, and a seat?

Starbucks, can I sit outside your door,
on the sidewalk with a napkin and pen,
writing my poem that no one will read,
doodling my time away
to an ambiguous ending.

And when the barista comes out,
asking me if I’d like some frothy whipped cream,
wonderful cream like the fall of moonlight,
the garden lanterns are lit,
while a gypsy jazz trio plays
dans les nuages.

Starbucks, I don’t know if you have what I need,
a lonely table under a carob tree,
where I’ll sit and sip a cold coffee,
my heart squeezed through a napkin ring,
wishing for skylark wings to fly away and sing.

(“Skylark” is a 1942 jazz standard song, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, music by Hoagy Carmichael.)

False Start

Darts – birds hitting their marks. Feathers painted in plastic. Flickers, scrub-jays. Black gloss enameled crows. Black capped chickadees. Bushtits. The sorrowful hot guitar trill of a song sparrow. They voice the old songs, their beaks cracked, worn plectrums. A few sit still on a telephone wire while another takes a solo. To-wit. To-hoo. Clack, clack, clack.