“Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” (1966)

“Stuck” is a poem.  I’m tempted to make that sentence this whole blog posting because that really says it all.  The rhyme scheme is deliberate and strict, surprising for a song that ebbs and flows with a wild ride of images and phrases.  Or as Sean Wilentz says, “words meander through random combinations and disconnected fragments . . .”  The rhymes certainly are not random; the pattern goes abcbdefe, from beginning to the end, with the bridge at the end of each verse (9 total), ghg.

Christopher Ricks makes much ado about the “end”/”again” rhyme repeated in each refrain, a rhyme both an end and a beginning so it works as a metaphor.  Ricks make the claim, “That’s what a rhyme is, intrinsically, a form of again . . . and a form of an ending.”

And the poem (yes, poem) ends with a question of how one can get out of going through things twice.  Well, we must go through listening to that refrain 9 times–no getting out of it, and no getting out of the rhyme pattern either.  Yet, who would want to?  This is a song that seems to go on forever but the feeling is that forever is not long enough.  I want Bob stuck inside of Mobile with those Memphis Blues as long as he keeps singing away and forcing some of those great wrenched rhymes like “block” and “talk,” “talked” with locked.” Can’t you just hear that voice making those words sound alike?

My favorite rhyme on the song is in the 8th verse, “debutante” with “you want.”  The “u” sound in “debutante” combining with “you” for a mosaic rhyme.  And then to make sure those sounds hold sway in the non-rhyming line between the lines that make that rhyme he repeats the words via an exchange of dialogue:

An’ she says, “Your debutante just knows what you need.”

Give that line and all the others a listen, especially if you haven’t in a while, and feel free to stay stuck inside of it forever:

from the alternate take off of No Direction Home: