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PostPosted: Mon June 6th, 2011, 18:50 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
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Location: City of Angels
http://www.tagtele.com/videos/voir/53510

You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, "Who is that man ?"
You try so hard
But you don't understand
Just what you'll say
When you get home.

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones ?

You raise up your head
And you ask, "Is this where it is ?"
And somebody points to you and says
"It's his"
And you says, "What's mine ?"
And somebody else says, "Where what is ?"
And you say, "Oh my God
Am I here all alone ?"

But something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones ?

You hand in your ticket
And you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you
When he hears you speak
And says, "How does it feel
To be such a freak ?"
And you say, "Impossible"
As he hands you a bone.

And something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones ?

You have many contacts
Among the lumberjacks
To get you facts
When someone attacks your imagination
But nobody has any respect
Anyway they already expect you
To all give a check
To tax-deductible charity organizations.
You've been with the professors
And they've all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You've been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
You're very well read
It's well known.

But something is happening here
And you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones ?

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you
And then he kneels
He crosses himself
And then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice
He asks you how it feels
And he says, "Here is your throat back
Thanks for the loan".

And you know something is happening
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones ?

Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word "NOW"
And you say, "For what reason ?"
And he says, "How ?"
And you say, "What does this mean ?"
And he screams back, "You're a cow
Give me some milk
Or else go home".

Because something is happening
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones ?

Well, you walk into the room
Like a camel and then you frown
You put your eyes in your pocket
And your nose on the ground
There ought to be a law
Against you comin' around
You should be made
To wear earphones.

Does something is happening
And you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones ?

Who is Mr. Jones??

Bob himself once said,
"He's a pinboy. He also wears suspenders. He's a real person. You know him, but not by that name... I saw him come into the room one night and he looked like a camel. He proceeded to put his eyes in his pocket. I asked this guy who he was and he said, "That's Mr. Jones." Then I asked this cat, "Doesn't he do anything but put his eyes in his pocket?" And he told me, "He puts his nose on the ground." It's all there, it's a true story."

Possibly Bob's most creepy and frightening song, this amazing song from Highway 61 is an undeniable classic. My personal feeling is that this song came out of Bob's dalliance with Andy Warhol, that very thin man whose sexual ambiguity and sycophantic style must have both attracted and repulsed Bob.
That said, the song is about something much greater. It's one of Dylan's great songs about displacement and neediness. It follows a well-educated well-connected person who, despite and maybe because of this, has no idea about the real world around him and his place in it.

The song has been close to Bob since the beginning and has changed as he's changed culminating (currently) in an amazing center-stage performance night after night that's as great a show-stopper as it was in 1966.
So many great ones throughout the years (and y'all better throw out some!) but a sneaky underrated version that I personally love is from that much-maligned tour in 1984. Mick Taylor's gut-bucket guitar, Ian McLaglen's terrific organ and Bob's incredibly melodic voice that he possessed that year provide a chilling and chill version of a grandiose epic song...

Rome Italy
June 19 1984
http://www.sendspace.com/file/ddpb5d

Alright peeps! A big one here! Where are we all at on BOATM?? What does it all mean and what's your fave version???
Talk it up!


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PostPosted: Mon June 6th, 2011, 19:27 GMT 

Joined: Thu January 31st, 2008, 17:51 GMT
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the 1966/2010 are best!
amazing how wicked the current performances are.

I think the line "you ought to be made to wear earphones" is very funny,
but better expressed as the "please, first telephone" admonition.

I love all the careful, deliberate wise-ass enunciation.

Also, I like the the 1966 live lyric addition "with great lawyers and scholars,"
which adds a bit more wise-assery.


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PostPosted: Mon June 6th, 2011, 19:53 GMT 

Joined: Sat October 30th, 2010, 17:44 GMT
Posts: 24
Location: England
It’s interesting reading Bob’s description of Mr Jones, I’d always identified myself (as the listener) as Mr Jones! I’m sure I’m not the only one?!

I think the themes of disorientation and isolation are ones that most people would identify with to some extent.


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PostPosted: Mon June 6th, 2011, 20:07 GMT 

Joined: Mon May 10th, 2010, 19:30 GMT
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Location: New York
never cared for it. on the album or live...untill i heard a 1974. then i took it serious. As it was said 2010 is the greatest performance of a song period.

"AH my GAWWWD" - 2010
"oh my god" -1965

I prefer the diction of 2010


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PostPosted: Mon June 6th, 2011, 20:24 GMT 
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asdf29 wrote:
the 1966/2010 are best!
amazing how wicked the current performances are.



Got to agree with that! Look forward to Marker's version, tho, even as one of the maligners of that tour.


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PostPosted: Mon June 6th, 2011, 21:25 GMT 
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It's a lovely song... and the first time that Tom Jones was ever name-checked in a Dylan song.

Tom Jones, the Welsh diva was never mentioned again in any other Dylan composition... per se... song... Why?


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PostPosted: Mon June 6th, 2011, 21:32 GMT 
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The thin man was of course ... William Powell.


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PostPosted: Mon June 6th, 2011, 21:40 GMT 
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thickboy wrote:
Tom Jones, the Welsh diva was never mentioned again in any other Dylan composition... per se... song... Why?

He realized it would be an affront to you


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PostPosted: Mon June 6th, 2011, 21:57 GMT 

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:lol: The calibre of discussion in this thread is an ironic testament to the song's greatness. So great it is, that we aren't even arguing about it.


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PostPosted: Mon June 6th, 2011, 22:55 GMT 
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A stone cold classic and maybe the one Bob is most proud of, as evidenced by the consistent focus and care he's given to the song after all these years. There's never been a bad rendition or arrangement, even in a period as fallow as, say, late 1990-91, where his raspy, blown, slurred and broken voice offered an extra layer of disillusionment and paranoia to the lyrics.

The 2010 and onward versions have been absolutely outstanding. For me, though, my personal favorite is the True Confessions version from 1986, which he performs with great swagger and Mike Campbell kills it on the solo. The 1981 versions offer some of his most powerful as well as tuneful and melodic singing ever. 1978 has those great, kooky stories accompanying them.

And yet, those venomous, lurching 1966 versions, with its slow, drawn out chords that make the listener feel like a rake is slowly dragged across their back, are probably still the best, even when removed from the historical context that makes them all the more special. No other version quite give you the feeling the song is supposed to: all eyes are on Mr. Jones (who could be me, you, or anybody), the walls are closing in on him, there's no escape from the vitriol Bob's lobbing at you, and he's taking his sweet time doing it with those smart alec, condescending, drawn out vocals. Still amazing 45 years later.

Bravo.


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PostPosted: Tue June 7th, 2011, 02:04 GMT 
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"My personal feeling is that this song came out of Bob's dalliance with Andy Warhol, that very thin man whose sexual ambiguity and sycophantic style must have both attracted and repulsed Bob."

That's an interesting point, but instead of a pencil in his hand, Andy would have had a microphone and recording device. :)


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PostPosted: Tue June 7th, 2011, 04:25 GMT 

Joined: Sat August 16th, 2008, 21:48 GMT
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Anyone got top version dates from 2010. I v'e heard 3-4 which were great but any he absolutley nailed center stage? I'd appreciate if you have any reccommendations or Mp3 to post of top tier 2010 versions. Thanks MEZ


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PostPosted: Tue June 7th, 2011, 04:33 GMT 

Joined: Sat August 16th, 2008, 21:48 GMT
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Love that 84 version by the way Marker! MEZ


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PostPosted: Tue June 7th, 2011, 06:25 GMT 

Joined: Thu January 31st, 2008, 17:51 GMT
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Mez wrote:
Anyone got top version dates from 2010. I v'e heard 3-4 which were great but any he absolutley nailed center stage? I'd appreciate if you have any reccommendations or Mp3 to post of top tier 2010 versions. Thanks MEZ


For me, this is something that should be seen, not just heard. It's really a theatrical gesture.
I saw several amazingly weird youtube clips, and got to witness one in person.


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PostPosted: Tue June 7th, 2011, 07:20 GMT 
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yeah it's really all about seeing it i think...on boots i was always like "ooh thats interesting" but when i saw it it was absolutely out of this world.

the lighting behind him is so so cool, like a vaudeville thing


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PostPosted: Tue June 7th, 2011, 10:34 GMT 
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As often as this lyric is discussed, no one ever brings up this quote from Bob at his February 6, 1999 show in Nashville:

Quote:
I get a lot of requests for that Ballad Of A Thin Man song. [audience cheers] Well I know, I know, yeah, we're not gonna play it, no, no, no. It…he asked me what it was about…I told him what it was about, it's about people who don't pay to get into places and, critics who don't pay to get into places. They then got the audacity to write things.


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PostPosted: Tue June 7th, 2011, 11:47 GMT 
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From Before the Flood to the present, I don't know if I've heard an off performance... Since that era, its a song he always seems to do well. My favorite, although maybe not the best (to some, anyway) is the one off the Honky Tonk Blues boot with the Brian Setzer Orchestra joining in. There is a bit of a jazz and majestic feel to the song.


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PostPosted: Tue June 7th, 2011, 13:54 GMT 
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Fantastic song. This song scared me the first time I heard it. I don't know why, maybe it was music and the uneasiness of the vocal. I remember hearing a really cool version that he performed with Brian Setzer Orchestra on a boot from the late '90s. The song still works very well even in 2011.

The live version from NDH is my favorite - Dylan predicts widespread cell phone usage. "You should be made, at all times, to carry on you a telephone." He got it right. Kids are born with cell phones in their hands now.


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PostPosted: Tue June 7th, 2011, 19:42 GMT 

Joined: Tue January 13th, 2009, 02:13 GMT
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Great Piano based song in the key of B minor. I've dabbled with playing this song on the piano but it has so many words :( . I usually get lost when I get to the part about the sword swallower. Great chord progression though. It may be my favourite piano based song by Dylan (unless you consider LARS a piano based song).

To throw out a modest proposal, to me, the best version of this song is clearly the one on Highway 61 Revisited. I do like the versions done on the '66 tour (including the version seen in NDH) and particularly like Garth Hudson's organ playing on the song during that tour. That being said, I have never heard a live version (of which there are many) that I have preferred to the album version.


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PostPosted: Wed June 15th, 2011, 02:26 GMT 
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Must be about some closet case Bob knew.


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PostPosted: Wed June 15th, 2011, 02:39 GMT 
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Pissed off at clueless, cerebral critics. The homoerotic imagery, a joke--"hey, what's the secret message of this song?

That's a cool one from 1984, marker. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Wed June 15th, 2011, 02:56 GMT 
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My absolute favorite is the snippet that Scorsese gives us in No Direction Home. I have obsessed over that (video) clip, searching even the less than savory parts of the internet, alas to no avail. Sure, the audio is a bit muffled, but the energy!


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PostPosted: Wed June 15th, 2011, 05:31 GMT 

Joined: Thu January 31st, 2008, 17:51 GMT
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snood wrote:
As often as this lyric is discussed, no one ever brings up this quote from Bob at his February 6, 1999 show in Nashville:

Quote:
I get a lot of requests for that Ballad Of A Thin Man song. [audience cheers] Well I know, I know, yeah, we're not gonna play it, no, no, no. It…he asked me what it was about…I told him what it was about, it's about people who don't pay to get into places and, critics who don't pay to get into places. They then got the audacity to write things.


that's funny. Bob continues to shun critics who want free passes, doesn't he?

also, for anyone familiar with Mike Patton...he croons a weird version of this song on a
Jamie Saft Trio album. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4f1hOm8cUg

(it may sound flat if you aren't a Mike Patton fan though)


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PostPosted: Wed June 15th, 2011, 21:41 GMT 

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I always admired Lennon for cutting to the desperate quick of this song:

"I feel so suicidal, just like Dylan's Mr Jones" (Yer Blues)

He sees the desperation of Jones - the loneliness, confusion, alienation - as well as the lack of cool. Lennon's acknowledgement of Dylan's song is already a generous gesture between two cultural colossi, but one further ennobled by its acute perception. The perception of another intensely creative mind.

Like LARS, Thin Man is both a lacerating putdown and an offer of understanding and empathy - if not quite sympathy. As such its a complex poetic achievement.

Having granted that, I also always admired Bob for his self deprecation in the Biograph notes, when he observed that they didn't play Ballad of A Thin Man over the Lebanon. It's just a song - he's saying, not some kind of Scripture.


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PostPosted: Wed June 15th, 2011, 22:16 GMT 
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asdf29 wrote:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4f1hOm8cUg
(it may sound flat if you aren't a Mike Patton fan though)

Right. I got a "Mike Patton contact high" from going to music school with Uncle Bungleheads but it's not for folks who like David Bromberg, whoever he is


Last edited by Solo Teem on Wed June 15th, 2011, 22:28 GMT, edited 1 time in total.

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