– 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 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.
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.
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.”
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, 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.)
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.