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PostPosted: Sun April 3rd, 2016, 18:34 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
Posts: 1519
Location: City of Angels
I will not go down under the ground
'Cause somebody tells me that death's comin' 'round
An' I will not carry myself down to die
When I go to my grave, my head will be high

Let me die in my footsteps
Mm before I go down under the ground

There's been rumors of war and wars that have been
The meaning of life has been lost in the wind
And some people thinking that the end is close by
'Stead of learning to live they are learning to die

Let me die in my footsteps
Mm before I go down under the ground

I don't know if I'm smart but I think I can see
When someone is pulling the wool over me
And if this war comes and death's all around
Let me die on this land 'fore I die underground

Let me die in my footsteps
Mm before I go down under the ground

There's always been people that have to cause fear
They've been talkin' about a war now for many long years
I have read all their statements and I've not said a word
But now Lord God let my poor voice be heard

Let me die in my footsteps
Mm before I go down under the ground

Let me drink from the waters
Where the mountain streams flood
Let the smell of wildflowers flow free through my blood
Let me sleep in your meadows
With the green grassy leaves
Let me walk down the highway with my brother in peace

Let me die in my footsteps
Mm before I go down under the ground

Go out in your country
Where the land meets the sun
See the craters and the canyons
An' where the waterfalls run
Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho
Let every state in this union
Seep deep down in your soul

And you'll die, in your footsteps
Mm before you go down under the ground

This song has been on my mind for about two years. I was in Kansas. Phillipsburg or Marysville, I think. I was going through some town out there and they were making this bomb shelter right outside town, one of those sort of Coliseum-type things and there were construction workers and everything. I was there for about an hour, just looking at them build and I guess I just wrote the song in my head back then, but I carried it with me for two years until I finally wrote it down.
As I watched them building, it struck me sort of funny that they would concentrate so much on digging a hole underground when there were so many other things they should do in life. If nothing else, they could look at the sky, and walk around and live a little bit instead of doing this immoral thing. I guess that it’s just that you can lead a lot of people by the hand. They don’t even really know what they’re scared of.
I’d like to say that here is one song that I am really glad I made a record of. I don’t consider anything that I write political. But even if I couldn’t hardly sing a note, or even if I couldn’t stand on my feet, this is one song that people won’t have to look at me or even listen closely or even like me, to understand.
~Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan Liner Notes (regular & withdrawn)

Let Me Die In My Footsteps written while Gil Turner and I were in Toronto in Dec. 1961. I set out to say something about fallout and bomb-testing but I didn’t want it to be a slogan song. Too many of the protest songs are bad music. Exception being Which Side Are You On. Most of the mining songs are good. Especially the bomb songs – usually awkward and with bad music. Which takes a stand – no beating around the bush.
~Bob Dylan (notebook entry for February 17, 1962)
'Which Side Are You On??'
https://youtu.be/9XEnTxlBuGo

"Let Me Die In My Footsteps," a song that Paul Williams called Dylan's "...first anthem" was also dropped from 'Freewheelin' after being included in the early, promotional pressings. A shame this, because it is one of Dylan's finest songs from this period. This was a song that he had apparently been carrying in his head for about two years, and after this recording (April 25th 1962) he performed it many times on stage, to the extent that he eventually tired of it.'
Liner Notes Bootleg Series Vol. 1

“Let Me Die in My Footsteps” is Dylan’s first anthem, in the sense that “Pastures of Plenty” and “This Land Is Your Land” and “This Train Is Bound for Glory” are anthems-songs people can unite around, that can be sung as an expression of belonging, to a nation or a faith or a cause. The song is a fist shaken at the death in the soul that fear brings, in effect a statement that I would rather risk dying in the flesh than choose a living death, cut off from what gives life its value.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan Performing Artist I: The Early Years 1960-1973)

Here's the cut from Freewheelin':
https://youtu.be/kBkwU-Cec2k

Yet by December 1962, when he tried to tape it for his new music publisher, Witmark Music, he couldn’t even make it through the whole song, stopping after a couple of verses and calling it “a drag . . . I’ve sung it so many times.” The first flush of enthusiasm had evidently faded. Unsurprisingly, it became one of the songs pulled from the recalled version of Freewheelin’ the following April.
~Clinton Heylin (Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973)

Here's the Witmark demo:
https://youtu.be/EInJv-DY6MA

Here's the only live recording of it from the Finjan Club
with Happy Traum singing backup:

Montreal Canada
July 2 1962
https://youtu.be/4JEE5U-ZN7M

I love this song so much....
Anyone else??


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PostPosted: Sun April 3rd, 2016, 18:42 GMT 
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Joined: Tue February 17th, 2009, 02:57 GMT
Posts: 7212
I like the song. It's musically dull and the studio take is dull, so I don't ever find myself really wanting to hear it.


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PostPosted: Sun April 3rd, 2016, 19:54 GMT 
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Joined: Wed July 8th, 2009, 17:09 GMT
Posts: 415
Location: England's north country
I think it epitomises the Cold War and the fear of nuclear bombs. I think the lyrics are of that time and may seem strange today. I listen to it from time to time and it reminds me of how clever and clear some of Dylan's lyrics were in his early days.


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PostPosted: Sun April 3rd, 2016, 20:34 GMT 

Joined: Sat February 27th, 2016, 23:54 GMT
Posts: 642
Location: camilla's house
i really love this one too.
it's a bit heartbreaking to hear bob call the lyrics cheesy in the dont look back outtakes.
and speaking of that scene, the way he alters the vocals after his friend (cant remember who) convinces him to sing it is surprisingly beautiful though.

the finjan version is my favorite. i agree that the Freewheelin' outtake is dull, just lacks energy.

if i was forced into the unlikely situation of picking one song to summarize Dylan's whole deal, this would be a pretty good shot.


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PostPosted: Sun April 3rd, 2016, 23:04 GMT 
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Joined: Sat September 13th, 2008, 03:43 GMT
Posts: 5127
i believe in you wrote:
I think it epitomises the Cold War and the fear of nuclear bombs. I think the lyrics are of that time and may seem strange today. I listen to it from time to time and it reminds me of how clever and clear some of Dylan's lyrics were in his early days.
That fear of the Bomb may have peaked the year I was born, when Dr. Strangelove and Fail Safe were both released ('64). Hadn't seen Fail Safe til last night, it's a fascinating time capsule to muse on, especially since America still has over 4,800 nuclear weapons, and they are not exactly well maintained. It’s terrifying, basically. In fact, it's more likely than not that a nuclear mishap will happen eventually :twisted:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y1ya-yF35g


Last edited by AndoDoug on Sun April 3rd, 2016, 23:30 GMT, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun April 3rd, 2016, 23:28 GMT 
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Joined: Sat October 27th, 2007, 12:44 GMT
Posts: 17910
Location: Workin' as a postal clerk
Agree about Fail Safe - though I haven't seen it in many years.

friend wrote:

if i was forced into the unlikely situation of picking one song to summarize Dylan's whole deal, this would be a pretty good shot.


I was still exploring Dylan's back catalog when the first Bootleg Series came out, and this track was an immediate favorite. It certainly does capture something of what so many of us love about the man. It's a bit dated, sure, but the general sentiment about living life vs. hiding in fear is pretty damn relevant in these terroristic times. Some great lines that to me echo This Land is Your Land and America the Beautiful are mixed in with a forceful statement of how to live and not to live. As the New York Times said - this kid has talent!!


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