“Went To See The Gypsy” (1970)

The rhyming in “Went To See The Gypsy” is varied, but there is a consistent pattern of abcb to begin each of the four verses.  It’s a mysterious, surreal, dreamlike song.  A man meets with a gypsy apparently to have his fortune told.  A meeting is had, but only an exchange of greetings happen, or so we’re told. A dancing girl advises the man to return to the gypsy but the gypsy is not there when he tries to return to him.  And then the dancing girl is missing as well, leaving the man to reflect, meditate:

So I watched that sun come rising
From that little Minnesota town

It’s a vignette, a small piece of a character’s life.  The song glides and the tune is catchy.  Perhaps the most pleasing part is in the third verse when Dylan sings a litany of rhyming words from the c rhyme position that starts with “there” (albeit a bit forced with it):

He can move you from the rear
Drive you from your fear
Bring you through the mirror
He did it in Las Vegas
And he can do it here”

It’s a good song, easy to listen to, and that final image, with one of the few if any direct references to his home state, lingers.  We get to reflect with the singer on what just happened or rather what didn’t happen.  We are left with more of a gap.  What happened between the exchange of “How are you’s” and why does he take the dancer’s advice to go back?  The story has a pattern but the questions make us realize how little of a pattern there is, as with the rhyming.

Here’s the original studio version

And here’s the latest from the recently released Bootleg Basement Tapes cuts:

“True Love Tends To Forget” (1978)

I’ve binged listened to this song in my car a number of times.  I enjoy the interplay of the instruments, the lyrics, and Dylan’s vocals especially in the twice repeated bridge,

I was lyin’ down in the reeds without any oxygen
I saw you in the wilderness among the men
Saw you drift into infinity and come back again
All you got to do is wait and I’ll tell you when

The rhyming in this song is all couplets, each verse strumming and humming with aa/bb.  So it sounds like a love song, and “love” is in the title.  For Christoper Ricks, rhyming involves memory. We must remember what the sound of a previous word was for us to get the rhyme.  He even refers to rhyming as “a kind of loving, two things becoming one, yet not losing their own identity.” And this song captures that paradox that is love because as Michael Gray says about all the songs on Street Legal, “Every song deals with love’s betrayal.”  And maybe when the need to assert one’s identity becomes stronger than the need to become one with another, betrayal of that love is inevitable or even necessary.

There’s struggle and pleading in this song, this song draped, cloaked in “loving” couplets.  The beloved though loved is hard to recognize, days are like Russian roulette, she is seen with other men, and with her he experiences a weekend from hell. But the last verse gets out what is really on his mind or in his heart,

You belong to me, baby, without any doubt
Don’t forsake me, baby, don’t sell me out

A reminder–one thing certain–without doubt even, she belongs to him (remember another Dylan song of that title?).  That can’t be forgotten even though true love tends to forget.  “Tends” is the key word. It’s not a certainty this forgetting with true love involved.  It can be defied.  And maybe through the rhyming so certainly so without a doubt couplets from beginning to end keeps the balance of love, the Ricksonian one–becoming one while keeping both ones’ identities one, not betraying each other, not betraying each one’s self.

Some inventive rhymes, too, and assonance in this tune, e.g., eyes/recognize; near/sincere; oxygen/men; Mexico to Tibet/tends to forget. Each joined by similar sounds, each its own meaning.

Here it is, in “Remastered” form: