April 8, 2009

"But it grieves my heart, love/To see you tryin' to be a part of/A world that just don't exist ..."

"It’s all just a dream, babe/a vacuum, a scheme, babe/that sucks you into feelin’ like this."

Is "To Ramona" really the 24th best Bob Dylan song ever? I don't know, but it's meant a lot to me over the years.
It remains one of the best songs based on a woman’s first name, up there with Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” and John Lennon’s “Julia.”


madawaskan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Did Dylan foresee the internet?

Trooper York said...

I prefer Gloria. G-L-O-R-I-A, gloria. Say it every night, say it every day.

rhhardin said...

Ramona was the name of a steamer boat on Reed's Lake in East Grand Rapids MI, in the 50s.

zedzded said...

Remarkable song - thanks for posting that - I hadn't listened to it in over 40 years. It is oddly moving in its own way, and I noticed Dylan's far up north accent in the way he pronounces some vowels - very interesting.

srfwotb said...

Maybe you (all) could tell me what point he's making exactly in that song then. I'm stumped. I read the article, just not sure how those very specific conclusions were arrived at through those lyrics.

And whoa - He looks like Lindsay Lohan's ex-girlfriend Sam on the front of the album they show further down the page.

ricpic said...

Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue, pretty pretty pretty pretty Peggy Sue.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

And then there's Simon and Garfunkle's "Cecelia", Rod Stewart's "Maggie May", the Police's "Roxanne", and the Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda".

CrankyProfessor said...

Alison (Elvis Costello)



oh - I don't know - maybe it's just generational, but I've never been able to get worked up over any of the three on your list, let alone the kind of women who would sleep with them.

AllenS said...

Sherry---Sherry baby sherry---sherry baby

traditionalguy said...

Bobby D. is not for everyone's taste. Maybe he will always be an acquired taste, and initial reactions to him will be like a great wine that is first being tasted by a non-drinker. Thanks for un-corking your very best vintages here, dear Sommelier of Chez Althouse.

srfwotb said...

Oh okay. I went to songmeanings.net and read the full page of lyrics. (Fun site btw if you find yourself obsessing over a song and need to hear other people's opinions.)

Still, a lot of room in those lyrics.

Jason said...

Annie's song. "You Fill Up My Senses" (Does the name actually have to appear in the song?)

Agreed, "Suzanne" is wonderful.

"Linda Paloma," by Jackson Browne

"Mrs. Robinson."

Being a traditional Irish musician myself, I'd also have to add "Fanny Poer" by Turlough O'Carolan.. an instrumental, and "Josefin's Waltz", a traditional (Norwegian?) tune, here performed by Vasen:


Makes a great father-daughter waltz at weddings. :-)

Peter V. Bella said...

Waylon Jennings

BJM said...

I'm back on Boogie street as Cohen's in heavier-than-usual rotation this week. We have tickets for his Oakland show next week, like Dylan, one never knows which Cohen will appear.

Part 1 of an out-of-print documentary in 9 parts. "Suzanne" is at 6:35.

btw-"I Feel A Change Comin' On"from Dylan's new album "Together Through Life" is available for your listening pleasure(or not).

dourwolf said...


or . . . Bertha, don't you come around here anymore . . . .

Trooper York said...


Bob said...

What, you've never heard Ethylene by John Hiatt?

Roy Lofquist said...

If you're trying to analyze Dylan's lyrics you're barking up the wrong tree. As he has said more than once he doesn't "write" songs. They come to him and he puts them to paper.

Jeff Gee said...

Lydia the Tattoed Lady. Very boss chick.


Penny said...

I know Althouse doesn't share much inner stuff, but I hope you won't think me rude to ask, Ann, ...Why THIS song? What is it about this song that spoke to you?

Cedarford said...

Rosanna -Toto
Roxanne - Police
Suzanne - Cohen
Annie's Song - John Denver
(Even) Mandy - Manilow (and I know the only females the guy could ever love were his mom and a dog)

(A great favorite) "Come on Eileen!" Dexy's Midnight Runners

And great "anti-love" songs?

Stiletto - Billy Joel
Runaround Sue - Dion

quickwatson said...

Oh Carol

I was never a Dylan fan, even though an Australian friend tried to spoon-feed me him (and Satchmo), but I heard "Blood On The Tracks" all those years ago and it's still my all-time favorite 33 1/3.

chickenlittle said...

It remains one of the best songs based on a woman’s first name/..

My fav was always "Lola" by the Kinks.

Peter V. Bella said...

Dylan, schmylan!!!

While you people are mooning over sappy songs, a real travesty against free expression is being perpetrated. The Obamites were infuriated that Chia Pet would have the audacity to create not one, but two Obama Chia Pets. They protested loudly. Walgreens, in an act of cowardice, is pulling them off the shelves. I guess in the new America of Hope and Change no one can prosper at the expense of the Hopium Dealer.

The Obamites are going to travel through out the land and scour all vestiges of criticism, humor, satire, and just plain fun about Barak from the earth. We will only be allowed to praise him. The Obamites will create temples to his praise and honor. Those who criticize, make fun of, or satirize the One will be deemed un-American and sacrificed on the altar.

This is how it starts folks. There is no Hope. Change doesn’t look too good either. :)

zedzded said...

What next, are you going to tell us that when The One bowed to the Sunni spiritual leader that it really meant something? Come on... there is nothing to see here, move along. And by all means, remember, that a ChiaObama is racist by its very nature.

Big Mike said...

@Peter, wrong thread for that rant.

I liked the Beach Boys -- Help me, Rhonda! You just know Rhonda's a California Girl. Drive off with her on a Surfin' Safari to go Surfin' USA in my Little Deuce Coupe powered by a Brand New 409.

You're too young to remember, Professor, but my old boss, General Robert E. Lee, loved the song "Lorena." Quite a hit back in the mid-nineteenth century.

Lem said...


Big Mike said...

Hmm. Rhonda did too good a job helping me get her out of my life. I nearly forgot all about Ba-Ba-Ba Babara Ann.

Gettin' old.

Peter V. Bella said...

Big Mike,

R.E. Lee also loved his horse. Mrs. Lee was not amused.

MadisonMan said...

Molly Malone. Not the classic version, but this one:

She wheels her wheelbarrow
Through streets that are narrow,
Her barrow is narrow, her hips are too wide.
So wherever she wheels it,
The neighborhood feels it,
Her girdle keeps scraping the homes on each side.
In Dublin's fair city,
Where girls are so pretty,
My Molly stands out 'cause she weighs 18 stone.
(That's 256 pounds.)
I dont mind her fat--but,
It's not only that--but,
She's cockeyed and muscle-bound, Molly Malone.

I will take Allen Sherman anyday over Bob Dylan.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Brandy, you're a fine girl! What a good wife you would be!


Sweet Caroline!

Beth said...

Them's "Gloria" is number one for me. Patti Smith's "Gloria" is number two. After that, B-52s, "52 Girls."

MadisonMan said...

How about Jenny?

I don't much about her, but her phone number is 867-5309.

Lem said...

gee thanks Laura :(

Sweet Caroline

I cant believe I was late with this.

oH- Think of Laura? @ general hospital.

Lem said...

Cecilia - Simon and the tall guy.

Big Mike said...

@Peter, given that Traveller was a gelding, that suggests something I hope you don't really mean.

I mean, Marse Lee was the best commander I've had since Julius Caeser led my legion over the Rubicon, and I won't take no sass from you, you young puppy you.

bill said...

the grand prize for best song based on a woman's first name is "Roxanne, Roxanne" by UTFO. Obviously.

In the Bob Dylan category, my vote goes to for "Visions of Johanna." For another endorsement, on Robyn Sings, a collection of Bob Dylan covers, Robyn intros "Johanna" with "This is my favorite song, it's why I started writing songs." That's pretty cool.

bill said...

chickenlittle said...
It remains one of the best songs based on a woman’s first name/..

My fav was always "Lola" by the Kinks.

Yeah, good song, but does it count if the woman wasn't actually a woman?

bill said...

I would be remiss if I didn't mention possibly the greatest song ever, Boozoo Chaviz's Lula Lula Don't You Go To Bingo.

you're gonna lose your money
you're gonna lose your honey

Peter V. Bella said...

Big Mike, I think I may have stepped in something here. your real name is not Casca Rufio Longinius is it?

Lem said...

Sussudio - Phil Collins

Big Mike said...

Good guess, but nope.

Actually my fighting career got its start fighting with my old drinking buddy Narmer in the Nile Delta. But JC and Marse Robert were the best commanders. Now contrast them with that idiot Westmoreland ...

As for me, I'm just the Great Historical Bum

Lem said...

Delilah- "Whatever Lola Wants..."

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Lem said...

gee thanks Laura :(

Sweet Caroline

I cant believe I was late with this.

oH- Think of Laura? @ general hospital."

I was named for the theme song for the movie "Laura", with Gene Tierney and Clifton Webb. Not the movie, or the character, but the theme song. Here.

commenter said...

This is so easy. You mean no one has ever done vanity searches using their name and song lyrics in a search engine field. Or using itms as a search for names in titles. Guys sing about girls all the time. I love the counting crows who sing about maria.

on the other side I don't know if gal singers put guy's names in songs so often.

To give a point to the guys maybe that says something about women's vanity and the need for personal recogntion or how much guys honor specific women with a face and name.

As a side note of Dylan singing about a vacuum, james Taylor does centrifugal force with going round, going round one more time- naming three women and singing in the song :

The next thing you gotta know her name

Peter V. Bella said...

Big Mike,
At least you know who Casca Rufio Longinius is. You never met him, by the way, did you?

blake said...

Randy Newman's Marie

George Harrison's Soft-Hearted Hannah

Cat Stevens' Sad Lisa

Donna B. said...

Donna -- Ritchie Valens

Janie's Got a Gun
Goodnight Irene
Wake Up Lil' Susie

so many...

Donna B. said...

Oh... Layla!

commenter said...

Sad Lisa is prove that there are men who are able to understand women moreso than women themselves.

amba said...

And the Stones' "Angie." Someone's probably mentioned it already.

amba said...

And there's the other "Roxanne" by the Police. (mentioned, I see)

CSN&Y "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," written for Judy Collins.

"Donna" by poor Ritchie Valens.

amba said...

"Venus" by Frankie Avalon -- does it count if it's a goddess?

amba said...

"Sussudio" is Italian for suicide.

amba said...

a ChiaObama is racist by its very nature.

How so? Nappy grass?

Meade said...


bill said...

Meade, I prefer the Anna by the German band Trio.

bill said...

Trooper York said...
I prefer Gloria. G-L-O-R-I-A, gloria. Say it every night, say it every day.

Jimi Hendrix version

Big Mike said...

@Peter, no, I can't say that I ever met a man by that name.

I never met Captain Nemo or Judah Ben Hur, either. Probably for the same reason that I never met Casca.


commenter said...

you know, ann you should do a post about male names in songs because i looked that up andit seems like guys are also singing about guys.

I looked at icons of my age like carol king (smackwater jack), carly simon (Jesse), joan baez (to bobby), even janis joplin (bobby mcgee)

Now cheryl crow sings heroics about steve macqueen

sarah machlachlan does the prayer of st francis if that counts.

further back Connie Francis does Frankie

but are they really enduring or semi-anonymous females as the male about female songs?

Maybe sara bereilles meaning of
"I'm not gonna right you a love song cause you asked for it" has a bit more meaning than record label and producer in mind than I thought or was told.

maybe male vanity, too?