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 Post subject: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Sun June 5th, 2005, 23:43 GMT 
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How do you understand the last verse in Tombstone Blues:

"Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
That could hold you dear lady from going insane
That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
Of your useless and pointless knowledge"

Is she sitting in kitchen with him? Is he writting a letter to her? Is she going crazy? Is dear lady a metaphor for insane USA (well, it's the song about time out of mind)?


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Thu December 13th, 2012, 02:53 GMT 
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I always just thought it was tongue in cheek cause Tombstone is the very definition of plain melody.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Thu December 13th, 2012, 03:01 GMT 
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circus sands wrote:
I always just thought it was tongue in cheek cause Tombstone is the very definition of plain melody.


Yeah, Tombstone Blues is a plain melody about pointless knowledge; Dylan sometimes likes to do a little self-reflexive commentary in a song's final verse : Desolation Row's I had to re-arrange their faces, and give them all another name and Gates Of Eden's no attempts to shovel the glimpse into the ditch of what each one means.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Thu December 13th, 2012, 07:05 GMT 

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Trev wrote:
circus sands wrote:
I always just thought it was tongue in cheek cause Tombstone is the very definition of plain melody.


Yeah, Tombstone Blues is a plain melody about pointless knowledge; Dylan sometimes likes to do a little self-reflexive commentary in a song's final verse : Desolation Row's I had to re-arrange their faces, and give them all another name and Gates Of Eden's no attempts to shovel the glimpse into the ditch of what each one means.

Nice to see an interesting take on something, a little bit of theory, of pattern recognition. As opposed to ranking — fun at times — or declarations of this/that masterpiece and this/that overrated song.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Thu December 13th, 2012, 19:51 GMT 
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I've thought of that verse as directed towards his old folk-loving audience and the people that still rejected his turn to electric. He could be saying in a sarcastic manner, "Yeah, I really wish I could please you guys, because that's exactly what I'm here to do..." Something along those lines. OF course, that could be a total misinterpretation, but that's what I love about Dylan's lyrics. They can mean so many different things to people.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Thu December 13th, 2012, 20:14 GMT 
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I suppose the key is in the 'useless and pointless knowledge'...he ends with saying all the intellectualism behind his lyrics is useless and pointless... like 'there are no truths outside the gates of eden'


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Fri December 14th, 2012, 00:07 GMT 
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Man on the Street wrote:
How do you understand the last verse in Tombstone Blues:

"Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
That could hold you dear lady from going insane
That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
Of your useless and pointless knowledge"

Is she sitting in kitchen with him? Is he writting a letter to her? Is she going crazy? Is dear lady a metaphor for insane USA (well, it's the song about time out of mind)?


I have alway's considered this to be a conceptual verse, contextually speaking. It's lyrical content is expansive, yet overtly understated and it has an enigmatic, brazen balance... it really is very cleverly written, and reminds me greatly of a number of Shakespeare's sonnets in style and flow.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Fri December 14th, 2012, 02:06 GMT 
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gibsona07 wrote:
I suppose the key is in the 'useless and pointless knowledge'...he ends with saying all the intellectualism behind his lyrics is useless and pointless... like 'there are no truths outside the gates of eden'


The similarities between the final verses of Tombstone Blues, Desolation Row and Gates Of Eden are striking : they all feature that neat little self-reflexive description I mentioned previously ("melody so plain"/"no attempt to shovel the glimpse into the ditch of what each one means"/"I had to rearrange their faces and give them all another name") and then conclude with that abandonment of intellect you mention ("cease the pain of your useless and pointless knowledge"/"there are no truths outside the Gates Of Eden"/"I can't read too good/Don't send me no more letters no/Not unless you mail them from Desolation Row"). Gates Of Eden and Desolation Row have the added similarity of an ending in which the song's point of view is explicitly surrendered to the idea that the only valid experience occurs in the place that titles the song. And that appears to be a place the narrator is outside. It's more ambiguous in Tombstone Blues, which ends with a chorus in which the narrator is still in the kitchen with the tombstone blues. It's debatable as to whether this is away from the world of useless and pointless knowledge or established within.
In all three, though, that post-modern final verse which critiques the song it completes leads us to comprehensively reassess the nature of the work up to that point. Gates Of Eden can be considered an account of his lover's unexplainable dreams. Desolation Row now appears to be an epic re-casting of a tedious letter.
And Tombstone Blues can be freshly recognised as a lullaby intended to anaesthetise an anxious lady through a characteristically Dylanesque satirical pile-up of renowned cultural figues.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Fri December 14th, 2012, 03:14 GMT 
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i think it indicates Dylan's lazy writing at the time and makes apparent the holes he eventually patched up, after not attending enough exposition courses to novelly bring his essays to conclusion.

balance was brought to the force with John Wesley Harding of course.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Fri December 14th, 2012, 03:20 GMT 
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i've always felt it was directed toward Baez, and the folk scene/"protest" movement at the time.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Fri December 14th, 2012, 04:33 GMT 
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Troubadour64 wrote:
i think it indicates Dylan's lazy writing at the time and makes apparent the holes he eventually patched up, after not attending enough exposition courses to novelly bring his essays to conclusion.

balance was brought to the force with John Wesley Harding of course.


One forceful expression of Dylan's mercurial genius at this time was his ability to freewheel wildy within a sure structure. These final verses are revelatory, but still foreshadowed.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Fri December 14th, 2012, 06:45 GMT 
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you, sir Trevelatory, are revelatory


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Fri December 14th, 2012, 07:49 GMT 
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And you're absolutely troubadourable!


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Sat December 15th, 2012, 15:10 GMT 
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just Dylan sending up academia, no different from Einstein and his drain pipes or worthless Delilah or roadmaps for the soul...I believe some academic big shots slagged him pretty bad after all the very awkward Another Side songs so this is sweet revenge from the big platform.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Wed February 21st, 2018, 00:26 GMT 
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I don’t know if there’s a ‘track talk’ for this song but there should be,
and if so then maybe this should just be merged into it?

Anyhow just stumbled upon this 2003 opener and if you can get past
the video, it’s a really good reminiscing feeling from those days when Bob
opened up with a different tune almost every night.

This was a fun time! Niagara 2003.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DcWoPXKBPPU

Thanks to the taper & the poster!


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Wed February 21st, 2018, 00:33 GMT 
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^That's a good one! And I agree, merging these standalone threads with the appropriate track talks would be a good idea.

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=40877&p=639153&hilit=tombstone+blues&sid=2c11eb5db4ce3fe2629f7560954834b8#p639153


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Wed February 21st, 2018, 01:07 GMT 
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Yep, Dylan in 65-66 was doing those Einstein "thought experiments", he was achieving a higher level of consciousness by inducing an altered mental state of the mind by either choosing organic or non organic methods.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Wed February 21st, 2018, 01:21 GMT 
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Still Go Barefoot wrote:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DcWoPXKBPPU

Thanks to the taper & the poster!


I thought I had clicked on the opening of Roseanne, her signature cackle opens up this great show. Bob sounds a little 1984ish. Lots of vocal energy coming out of him.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Wed February 21st, 2018, 01:38 GMT 
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Dylan's speaking of what he later achieved in '69-'70, with songs such as 'Lay Lady Lay', 'If Not for You' and 'Alberta' being among the songs with a "melody so plain" that it can "ease you and cool you and cease the pain."

He was still attacking so-called "useless and pointless knowledge" during the latter time period, but rather than explicitly stating it in a post-modern form admired by the holders of said knowledge, he was directly channeling and inhabiting the philosophy he preached.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Wed February 21st, 2018, 16:00 GMT 
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I doubt Bob had anything in mind at all except easy rhymes, clever nihilism/anarchism, his own ambitions, and reaching for an authenticity as an electric blues performer that Mike Bloomfield had already achieved.

All his method required at that point was familiarity with poetic values, folk music, and an appetite for words. Listeners tend to project their own needs and ex post facto experience on to Dylan's songs, in part because his method manipulates listeners into doing so. AAAB CCCB DDD is all this song is "about".


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Wed February 21st, 2018, 17:40 GMT 
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Love the lyrics, not so much the overpowered drums.
(Don’t know, though, what Me too would make of the hysterical bride.)

The song’s perspective of economical and political power isn’t gained at school, I’d say is the ‘point’ of that last stanza.

’The kingdoms of experience, in the precious wind they rot’


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Wed February 21st, 2018, 20:16 GMT 
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By the way, Zappa’s quote about how Dylan told him ‘more people die at college than in hospitals’ is a major side-note :)


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Wed February 21st, 2018, 22:20 GMT 

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This was around the time that Dylan was trying to shed his overly-earnest and overly-intellectual folky fans that dogged him as the spokesman of the Old Left Pete Seeger crowd. Much of his bitterness in the period is directed at them including Positively Fourth Street. This was just before the Sixties student protest culture exploded, but clearly Dylan already had developed a dislike for the Boomer Student Crowd. I read this last verse as an attempt by Dylan to woo a love interest away from that scene and towards the rock hipster scene that was developing out of Beat culture in NYC at the time as epitomized by the Warhol/Velvet Underground crowd.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Thu February 22nd, 2018, 03:22 GMT 
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harmonica albert wrote:
I doubt Bob had anything in mind at all except easy rhymes, clever nihilism/anarchism, his own ambitions, and reaching for an authenticity as an electric blues performer that Mike Bloomfield had already achieved.

All his method required at that point was familiarity with poetic values, folk music, and an appetite for words. Listeners tend to project their own needs and ex post facto experience on to Dylan's songs, in part because his method manipulates listeners into doing so. AAAB CCCB DDD is all this song is "about".

This, always.

As true for then as it is for now.


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 Post subject: Re: Tombstone Blues
PostPosted: Sat February 24th, 2018, 06:22 GMT 
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harmonica albert wrote:
I doubt Bob had anything in mind at all except easy rhymes, clever nihilism/anarchism, his own ambitions, and reaching for an authenticity as an electric blues performer that Mike Bloomfield had already achieved.

All his method required at that point was familiarity with poetic values, folk music, and an appetite for words. Listeners tend to project their own needs and ex post facto experience on to Dylan's songs, in part because his method manipulates listeners into doing so. AAAB CCCB DDD is all this song is "about".


Isn't it a bit too reductive to say that rhyming scheme is what the song is "about"? Every good poem or a poem set to music is like a flash that reveals something that maybe you've known but never thought about it that way or sometimes opens up completely new sensations in your psyche. I agree it is kind of misguided to get hung on some words or images and "figuring out" what artist had in mind. Maybe he did, but a song walks on its own.

Also it seems to me it is a bit cynical when you say Bob had nothing in mind except... It is an interesting thought though about the electric blues authenticity, I've never looked at it this way, but it rings true.

Regarding Tombstone Blues, maybe some of its appeal is better understood with a line from BIABH liner notes: 'i am about to sketch You a picture of what goes on around here sometimes.' For me it does not have the power of Subterranean Homesick Blues, but some verses achieve that, like the Phillistines and National Bank and a great hero one. It is a good sketch and nervous music underlines the point and then we have to move on.


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