17.12.07

power, greed, corruptible seed...



Blind Willie McTell

Bob Dylan


... five great dylan songs ... #1

Seen the arrow on the doorpost
Saying, “This land is condemned”
All the way from New Orleans
To Jerusalem
I traveled through east Texas
Where many martyrs fell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Well, I heard the hoot owl singing
As they were taking down the tents
The stars above the barren trees
Were his only audience
Them charcoal gypsy maidens
Can strut their feathers well
But nobody can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

See them big plantations burning
Hear the cracking of the whips
Smell that sweet magnolia blooming
See the ghosts of slavery ships
I can hear them tribes a-moaning
Hear the undertaker’s bell
Nobody can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

There’s a woman by the river
With some fine young handsome man
He’s dressed up like a squire
Bootlegged whiskey in his hand
There’s a chain gang on the highway
I can hear them rebels yell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Well, God is in heaven
And we all want what’s his
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is
I’m gazing out the window
Of the St. James Hotel
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

*

– recorded live, London, 2003

My favorite Dylan recording, however, is the original version – Dylan on piano & vocals, Mark Knopfler on guitar – during the sessions for Infidels (1983). Though the song was not included on the album – Dylan felt his recording didn’t do justice to the voice of McTell he could hear in his head – it later appeared on The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991. He was wrong ... Dylan’s voice on the original is as dark and beautiful ... That’s right. I said beautiful ... as is possible for the song.

7 comments:

Pris said...

Dylan is always there! I love this song!

d. chedwick bryant said...

thank you for the videos

sam of the ten thousand things said...

You're right, Pris, and thanks for the visit DCB.

Collin said...

Yep, you gotta get to I'm Not There. Best movie of the year!

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Will do, Collin. Thanks for the visit.

Sara Kearns said...

Great series of posts, Sam. And excellent choices -- you definitely know your Dylan!

Have a good holiday,
Sara

sam of the ten thousand things said...

You have a good holiday as well, Sara.