“Huck’s Tune” (2007)

As far as I know, this song only exists off of the Bootleg Collection, Tell Tale Signs. (and I guess on the soundtrack to the film Lucky You, where it plays at the end when the credits appear)  The rhyming in this song is sneaky structured.  It has five verses and a refrain kicker at the end.  The five verses go abcbdefe, but what stands out more are the rigid internal rhymes that appear in every other line.  Let me repeat that:  EVERY OTHER LINE!  Take a look; it’s masterful, and creates a beautiful see-sawing sing-song effect.

And some lines are just terrific like

“In this version of life called death”

“I took a rose from the hand of a child”

“Every day we meet on any old street”/”And you’re in your girlish prime”

“All the merry little elves can go hang themselves”

“Nature’s voice makes my heart rejoice”/”Play me the wild song of the wind”

See them in context with the full lyrics below and listen for them with this video accompaniment:

Well I wandered alone through a desert of stone
And I dreamt of my future wife
My sword’s in my hand and I’m next in command
In this version of death called life
My plate and my cup are right straight up
I took a rose from the hand of a child
When I kiss your lips, the honey drips
But I’m gonna have to put you down for a while

Every day we meet on any old street
And you’re in your girlish prime
The short and the tall are coming to the ball
I go there all the time
Behind every tree, there’s something to see
The river is wider than a mile
I tried you twice, you can’t be nice
I’m gonna have to put you down for a while

Here come the nurse with money in her purse
Here come the ladies and men
You push it all in and you’ve no chance to win
You play ’em on down to the end
I’m laying in the sand getting a sunshine tan
Moving along riding in style
From my toes to my head, you knock me dead
I’m gonna have to put you down for a while

I count the years and I shed no tears
I’m blinded to what might have been
Nature’s voice makes my heart rejoice
Play me the wild song of the wind
I found hopeless love in the room above
When the sun and the weather were mild
You’re as fine as wine, I ain’t handing you no line
But I’m gonna have to put you down for a while

All the merry little elves can go hang themselves
My faith is as cold as can be
I’m stacked high to the roof and I’m not without proof
If you don’t believe me, come see
You think I’m blue, I think so too
In my words, you’ll find no guile
The game’s gotten old, the deck’s gone cold
And I’m gonna have to put you down for a while

The game’s gotten old, the deck’s gone cold
I’m gonna have to put you down for a while

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“Heart Of Mine” (1981)

When I was 21 this song either saved my life or ruined it; I’m still not sure which, but that’s a clammy tale.  Let’s get to the rhymes.

“Heart Of Mine” consists of five verses, all of which begin and end with rhymes. The first and last verses are all “i” rhymes.  This is fitting as this is a song with an internal conflict between one’s heart and mind, all about the battle raging within the “I” of the song.  An antithetical rhyme like “home”/”roam” enforces this, as does the rhyme at the end of the second verse

Don’t put yourself over the line
Heart of mine

because indeed if the intent was to stick to the pentameter 10 syllables, one syllable has sent it over to eleven, overreaching, beyond control of the line, over the line, like this heart that won’t stop desiring no matter what the mind tells it.

And the instruments creating the music in the song battle as well.  The percussion, the drums are the beating heart, sometimes drowned out or overcome by organ, piano (that’s Dylan on the studio version), or Ron Wood’s guitar scratching, so memorable in this song.  But like the heart that gets louder and louder by the end in Poe’s “Tell-tale Heart” the drums become more demanding, more prominent, as does a heart bursting to fulfill desire, lust, love, call it what you will.

The drum make it’s presence known after Dylan sings that “over the line” line, but especially after

Don’t untie the ties that bind
Heart of mine

It’s as if the heart can put up with the rest of the mind’s admonishments, but not untying ties that bind, oh no, that will not do.  By the end, the drum matches organ and piano. Listen for it.  Nothing can stop a heart wanting to be fulfilled.

Here’s a live version, outdoors, Dylan’s hair blowing in the wind, from I don’t know when but looks early 80ish.

“Eternal Circle” (1963)

Image result for Dylan bootleg series 1-3

Christopher Ricks calls this song an “entrancing dance of shadows” with “three pairs of partners.”  One is between a man and a woman, the other between the love of a woman and the love of singing, and the last one between the the song the listener hears and “the song we are hearing about.” I’ll add another: the lines that don’t rhyme and those that due.

The rhyming pattern is consistent in this song, perhaps what you might expect from a song with “circle” in its title.  Every fourth and eight lines rhyme in each of the five eight line verses (the rhyme in each as far away as the singer to the she “that stood in the shadows”?).  The song has 40 lines, both divisible by 4, and, and 5 for that matter.  And as Ricks also notes “n” plays a role in all the rhymes.  He associates this with the “nth” degree as an eternal circle.  I’d like to venture the “n” rhymes are there because “n” sounds like “end,” as in the end of each line, or as a counter to circles which never end, going round and round.

There are things that end and don’t end in this song.   The girl of the singer’s infatuation leaves; she’s gone by the end of the song:

As the tune finally folded
I laid down the guitar
Then looked for the girl
Who’d stayed for so long
But her shadow was missin’
For all of my searchin’

But the singing never ends, the never ending tour, the circle complete but never completed, the song long, and the longing persists:

So I picked up my guitar
And began the next song

Here’s the song, with Dylan always willing to step into the light, the spotlight, forever picking up his guitar and harp to play his next song.