“Apple Suckling Tree” (1969)

Image result for the basement tapes

This is a hoot of a song, hootananny-ish, front porch knee slapping music, as are most of the Basement Tapes songs.  Christoper Ricks feels “rough-riding energies” in them.  They’re where a “raucous raunchy world come alive” for him.  “Apple Suckling” fits that bill well.  All the sexual innuendos are there if you want them to be. And like Shakespeare in his darker comedies, Dylan, seems to revel in their bawdiness.

The rhyming instigates sing-along, playfulness, and spontaneity, but it’s more controlled when you see it on the page. The first verse set an a/b/b/b pattern, if you toss aside the “Down there”‘s and “Oh yeah”‘s. The bridge, repeated just once, maintains the ee assonance.  And Dylan shifts to pure assonance again in verse three with a series of long i sounds with “line” repeated and ending with “time.” The final verse, has a rhyming life of its own with an a/a/b/b rhyme scheme.  The song is framed by rhyming patterns that “come alive” on their own–of their own.  There’s a delightful melodious uumph to the song, overall, pleading with each listener to join in.

And why not do so now, with the “rough-riding energy” of pirated music from Dylan’s latest bootleg release. Who knows how long this will last.  As with all of the Basement Tapes songs, grab these good times while you can.

 

Old man sailin’ in a dinghy boat
Down there
Old man down is baitin’ a hook
On there
Gonna pull man down on a suckling hook
Gonna pull man into the suckling brook
Oh yeah!

Now, he’s underneath that apple suckling tree
Oh yeah!
Under that apple suckling tree
Oh yeah!
That’s underneath that tree
There’s gonna be just you and me
Underneath that apple suckling tree
Oh yeah!

I push him back and I stand in line
Oh yeah!
Then I hush my Sadie and stand in line
Oh yeah!
Then I hush my Sadie and stand in line
I get on board in two-eyed time
Oh yeah!

Under that apple suckling tree
Oh yeah!
Under that apple suckling tree
Oh yeah!
Underneath that tree
There’s just gonna be you and me
Underneath that apple suckling tree
Oh yeah!

Now, who’s on the table, who’s to tell me?
Oh yeah!
Who’s on the table, who’s to tell me?
Oh yeah!
Who should I tell, oh, who should I tell?
The forty-nine of you like bats out of hell
Oh underneath that old apple suckling tree

 

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