July 18, 2017

"So what's the saddest Dylan song?"

Asked BudBrown in yesterday's "Purple Café" (following on a discussion we had 2 days ago about what is the saddest country song).

I give the beginning of an answer over there: "I don't know, but the first one that crossed my mind was 'Ballad in Plain D'" (Lyrics, audio).


Darrell said...

I used to think any he sang on.

tola'at sfarim said...

Knockin on heavens door

Ron said...

I think the saddest Beatle song is "For No One"

Darrell said...

Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands is sad on many fronts.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" — she's sad, but is he?

Darrell said...

I was--and I didn't even write it.

Darrell said...


urbane legend said...

Darrell said...
I used to think any he sang on.

I still do, with only a couple of exceptions.

Mary Beth said...

"One Too Many Mornings"

I'm not a big Dylan fan so I don't know all of his songs. Maybe not sad, just poignant.

It’s a restless hungry feeling
That don’t mean no one no good
When everything I’m a-sayin'
You can say it just as good
You’re right from your side
I'm right from mine
We’re both just one too many mornings
And a thousand miles behind

David Rhind said...

"Fourth time around"

brylun said...

Ann, FYI, long-time NYC folk rocker Willie Nile has a new CD out called Positively Bob: Willie Nile Sings Bob Dylan. It has 10 covers of Dylan songs. My wife and I attended a preview of this CD in the Goo Goo Dolls recording studio in May with about 25-30 other people and the download just became available this weekend. I think you would like it...

Ann Althouse said...

"One Too Many Mornings" reminds me of "Restless Farewell," which I considered, but decided isn't the lowest level of sad because of the moving-on theme.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think you would like it..."

Thanks, but too jangly for me.

dustbunny said...

When Dylan is sad he's often angry as in "Idiot Wind". "Ballad in D Minor" is sad but vicious about the sister.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

"I courted her proudly but now she is gone." Sad.

gerry said...

All of his nasalings make me sad.

dustbunny said...

"The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" is a sad story but Im not sure if it's a sad song

Patrick Henry was right! said...

Tangled up in Blue.

Gets me every time.

Amexpat said...

I can't think of any Dylan songs that are truly sad. "Sign on the Window" and "Abandoned Love" are more melancholy than sad. "Desolation Row" is well beyond sadness.

SteveR said...

If you see her, say hello

dustbunny said...

Dylan gets mad or reflective, he seems protective of his sadness needing to transform it rather than dwell there. For a truly sad non-country song my vote goes to Tom Waits for "Martha" or "I hope I Don't Fall in Love With You".

Feste said...

Saddest Dylan song is the one he blew and didn’t write for Alfred Nobel.

Retreating, as he did, to misquote Melville, Dylan should have better loved the [American] Bard, and told us the truth, that Dylan better is the sea-ship, Rachel, alone and at sea, searching for we lost and drowning, orphans.


Until he writes this swan song, “not a word of goodbye, not even a note. He is gone, with the man, in the long black coat.”

Amexpat said...

There's sadness in "Sara", especially if you think you know the back story.

Feste said...

“All of his nasalings make me sad.”

Despite Neil Young saying that Young would never be Dylan, because Dylan is the Master, Young is a liar.

As between both of their nasalings, Young is the better, purer, sweeter, and is equally good at being lost without trying too hard, and Young feels it all, and just as deep - way deep down.

Young is the truth-teller too. Because Dylan is the Master. Because goddamned, we can’t have everything in any single mortal, who is “knock knock knocking on the Dragon's Door.”

Only poor fools, not rich ones, would try and choose between ‘em.

Unknown said...

All of them. Caterwauling sounds like a sad cat.

Neil Young puts the yammerings of Dylan to shame.

Feste said...

Blogger Unknown said...

I love you, "Unknown."

the Lard,
the Holy Lard,
appeared to me,
in a dream last night,
and said,
"Leave 'Unknown'
He’s Plato’s wandering cause,
he’s a ghost, in the machine,
the poor devil does not exist,
he's in a Witness Protection Program,
poof! Keyser Söze, there and gone!”

Now, leave me alone, you and the three most beautiful women in country music (haven't recovered from that one), because my mind already has enough troubled waters.

Unknown said...

"Now, leave me alone, you and the three most beautiful women in country music (haven't recovered from that one), because my mind already has enough troubled waters."

"Beautiful female voices" my old friend, but they are quite pretty,

Bruce Gee said...

Po Boy. Whimsically sad. Also my favorite Dylan song. Also the lyrics make no sense, but that is kind of a Dylan hallmark.

DR Judge said...

Walls of Red Wing

Richard Dillman said...

Saddest country song for me is "Gulf Coast Highway" as sung by Emmylou Harris and Wiily Nelson. Too many Dylan songs seem at least
semi-sad to me, making it hard to choose the saddest.

Feste said...

"Beautiful female voices ..."

Corrected needed. Taken. “I’m going back someday, come what may,” toooo these three.

Brent Newby said...

Saddest song I ever heard is "Missing Person" by the Kinks. Hard to imagine anything worse than losing a child.

"Hicks Farewell" from Allison Moorer & The Chieftains is also pretty full of despair.

"He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones is a real heartbreaker

Unknown said...

"Not Dark Yet" might be my choice of saddest.

Terry Vance said...

Ballad in Plain D is one of the songs Dylan regrets recording -- I don't think he ever played it in concert. A little too harsh on Suze Rotolo's sister. One of those songs you stuff in a drawer...

Critter said...

Saddest country song - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank)

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly
That means he's lost the will to live
I'm so lonesome I could cry

Saddest Dylan song - Red River Shore

Well, I'm wearing the cloak of misery
And I've tasted jilted love
And the frozen smile upon my face
Fits me like a glove

David Rhind said...

Ann Have a look at the lyrics to 'Restless Farewell' and compare them with 'The Parting Glass' from the 1770's

Diamondhead said...

For me it's Girl from the North Country off Nashville Skyline.

Meade said...

Bob Dylan

Across the green mountain, I slept by the stream
Heaven blazing in my head, I dreamt a monstrous dream
Something came up out of the sea
And swept through the land of the rich and the free

I look into the eyes of my merciful friend
And then I ask myself: "Is this the end?"
Memories linger, sad yet sweet
And I think of the souls in heaven who we'll meet

Altars are burning with flames far and wide
The foe has crossed over from the other side
They tip their caps from the top of the hill
You can feel them come, more brave blood to spill

Along the dim Atlantic line
The ravaged land lies for miles behind
The light's coming forward and the streets are broad
All must yield to the avenging God

The world is old, the world is gray
Lessons of life can't be learned in a day
I watch and I wait, and I listen while I stand
To the music that comes from a far better land

Close the eyes of our Captain, peace may he know
His long night is done, the great leader is laid low
He was ready to fall, he was quick to defend
Killed outright he was, by his own men

It's the last day's last hour of the last happy year
I feel that the unknown world is so near
Pride will vanish and glory will rot
But virtue lives and cannot be forgot

The bells of evening have rung
There's blasphemy on every tongue
Let them say that I walked in fair nature's light
And that I was loyal to truth and to right

Serve God and be cheerful, look upward beyond
Beyond the darkness of masks, the surprises of dawn
In the deep green grasses of the blood-stained wood
They never dreamed of surrendering, they fell where they stood

Stars fell over Alabama, I saw each star
You're walking in dreams, whoever you are
Chilled are the skies, keen is the frost
The ground's froze hard and the morning is lost

A letter to Mother came today
"Gunshot wound to the breast," is what it did say
"But he'll be better soon, he's in a hospital bed"
But he'll never be better, he's already dead

I'm ten miles outside the city and I'm lifted away
In an ancient light that is not of day
They were calm, they were blunt, we knew 'em all too well
We loved each other more than we ever dared to tell

Kenneth Burns said...

"Visions of Johanna"?

Meade said...

'Cross the Green Mountain is a dirge, a literal dirge. But Bob also made a song called "Dirge" that he put out on his Planet Waves album in 1974. Confessional, discomforting, wretched and sad.

dustbunny said...

Thanks for that, I've never heard "Cross the Green MountIn" before. I love that Dylan continues to astonish.

randall g said...

I only know one Dylan song, and "Everybody Must Get Stoned" is not at all sad.

Feste said...

I watch and I wait, and I listen while I stand
To the music that comes from a far better land.

It gives a very echo to the seat, where Love is throned, “What You Will.”

Meade said...

Rose of all Roses, Rose of all the World!
You, too, have come where the dim tides are hurled
Upon the wharves of sorrow, and heard ring
The bell that calls us on; the sweet far thing.
Beauty grown sad with its eternity
Made you of us, and of the dim grey sea.

Feste said...

Ann, make Meade go away.

Feste said...

This new (new) Yeats gave me lockjaw. Doctor said my lockjaw is a good thing. “You need to shut up. Means something’s sinking in.” Thank you.

Feste said...

Some old paratroopers land in just the right spot.

Meade said...

Haha. Hey did anyone read your 10:30 comment last night? Besides me I mean. Good stuff.

Feste said...

I read it once. Then turned off the lights. Let the kids play.

Meade said...

Those damn kids need to get off my damn lawn. I'm trying to keep it open and well-lit. In case paratroopers need a place to touch down.

Damn fool smarty pants kids.

Feste said...

Ya know ...

Meade said...

So go on, boys, and play your hands, life is a pantomime
The ringleaders from the county seat say you don't have all that much time
And the girl with me behind the shades, she ain't my property
One of us has got to hit the road
I guess it must be up to me

Meade said...

Someone mentioned Tom Waits. Yes — dustbunny. Well, when it comes to sadness in song, Dylan just ain't no Waits.

Meade said...

Well, God bless your little crooked heart
St. Louis got the best of me
I miss your broken China voice
How I wish you were still here with me
Oh, you build it up, you wreck it down
Then you burn your mansion to the ground
Oh, there's nothing left to keep you here
But when you're falling behind in this big blue world
Oh, you've got to hold on, hold on
Babe, you gotta hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here, you gotta hold on

Feste said...

And the girl with me behind the shades, she ain't my property
One of us has got to hit the road
I guess it must be up to me

Guessed right. She came in with marching orders. I had to go dark. Shopping. Rude of me not to say so. She’s not my property. I’ll never know how she’s stayed my best friend all this time.

It’s not your time to go dark. Nor the girl's behind the shades.

Sometimes a man with one hand on the long barrel, one finger on the trigger, needs the best spotter in the world. Atmospherics. You get a millisecond. Works both ways. Never know who is spotting who.

Feste said...

Babe, you gotta hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here, you gotta hold on

We should have died out there with the rest of them.

Going to play in the other parts. See what the kids are doing.