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11 Outlined Epitaphs
Liner Notes from Highway 61 Revisited
I end up then
in the early evenin' punchin' at the blind
where t' go?
what is it that's exactly wrong?
who t' picket?
who t' fight? behind what windows
will I at least
hear someone from the supper table
get up t' ask
"did I hear someone outside just now?"
an hour ago
it came t' me
in a second's flash
an' was all so clear
it still is now
yes it is
it's maybe hidin'
it must be hidin'
the shot has shook
me up ... for I've never
heard that sound before
bringin' wild thoughts at first
now though they've leveled out
an' been wrung out
leavin' nothin' but the strangeness
the roots within a washed-out cloth
drippin' from the clothesline pole
useless an' unnecessary
the blast it's true
startled me back but for a spell
all pictures, posters an' the like
that're painted for me
ah but I turned
an' the nex' time I looked
the gloves of garbage
had clobbered the canvas
leavin' truckloads of trash
clutterin' the colors
with a blindin' sting
forcin' me t' once again
slam the shutters of my eyes
but also me to wonderin'
when they'll open
much much stronger
than anyone whose own eyes're
aimed over here at mine
"when will he open up his eyes?"
"who him? doncha know? he's a crazy man
he never opens up his eyes"
"but he'll surely miss the world go by"
"nah! he lives in his own world"
"my my then he really must be a crazy man"
"yeah he's a crazy man"
an' so on spangled streets
an' country roads
I hear sleigh bells
far into the field
sing an' laugh
with flickerin' voices
I stop an' smile
an' rest awhile
watchin' the candles
of sundown dim
unnoticed for my eyes're closed
The town I was born in holds no memories
but for the honkin' foghorns
the rainy mist
an' the rocky cliffs
I have carried no feelings
up past the Lake Superior hills
the town I grew up in is the one
that has left me with my legacy visions
it was not a rich town
my parents were not rich
it was not a poor town
an' my parents were not poor
it was a dyin' town
(it was a dyin' town)
a train line cuts the ground
showin' where the fathers an' mothers
of me an' my friends had picked
up an' moved from
t' south Hibbing
old north Hibbing ...
with its old stone courthouse
decayin' in the wind
windows crashed out
the breath of its broken walls
being smothered in clingin' moss
the old school
where my mother went to
rottin' shiverin' but still livin'
standin' cold an' lonesome
arms cut off
with even the moon bypassin' its jagged body
pretendin' not t' see
an' givin' it its final dignity
dogs howled over the graveyard
where even the markin' stones were dead
an' there was no sound except for the wind
blowin' through the high grass
an' the bricks that fell back
t' the dirt from a slight stab
of the breeze ... it was as though
the rains of wartime had
left the land bombed-out an' shattered
is where everybody came t' start their
town again. but the winds of the
north came followin' an' grew fiercer
an' the years went by
but I was young
an' so I ran
an' kept runnin'...
I am still runnin' I guess
but my road has seen many changes
for I've served my time as a refugee
in mental terms an' in physical terms
an' many a fear has vanished
an' many an attitude has fallen
an' many a dream has faded
an' I know I shall meet the snowy North
again -- but with changed eyes nex' time 'round
t' walk lazily down its streets
an' linger by the edge of town
find old friends if they're still around
talk t' the old people
an' the young people
running yes ...
but stoppin' for a while
embracin' what I left
an' lovin' it -- for I learned by now
never t' expect
what it cannot give me
Al's wife claimed I can't be happy
as the New Jersey night ran backwards
an' vanished behind our rollin' ear
"I dig the colors outside, an' I'm happy"
"but you sing such depressin' songs"
"but you say so on your terms"
"but my terms aren't so unreal"
"yes but they're still your terms"
"but what about others that think
in those same terms"
"Lenny Bruce says they're no dirty
words...just dirty minds an' I say they're
no depressed words just depressed minds"
"but how're you happy an' when're you happy"
"I'm happy now"
"cause I'm calmly lookin' outside an' watchin'
the night unwind"
"what'd you mean 'unwind'?"
"I mean somethin' like there's no end t' it
an' it's so big
that every time I see it it's like seein'
for the first time"
"so anything that ain't got no end's
just gotta be poetry in one
way or another"
"an' poetry makes me feel good"
"an' it makes me feel happy"
"for lack of a better word"
"but what about the songs you sing on stage?"
"they're nothin' but the unwindin' of
Woody Guthrie was my last idol
he was the last idol
because he was the first idol
I'd ever met
that taught me
face t' face
that men are men
shatterin' even himself
as an idol
an' that men have reasons
for what they do
an' for what they way
an' every action can be questioned
leavin' no command
untouched an' took for granted
obeyed an' bowed down to
forgettin' your own natural instincts
(for they're a million reasons
in the world
an' a million instincts
an' its none too many times
the two shall meet)
the unseen idols create the fear
an' trample hopes when busted
Woody never made me fear
and he didn't trample any hopes
for he just carried a book of Man
an' gave it t' me t' read awhile
an' from it I learned my greatest lesson
you ask "how does it feel t' be an idol?"
it'd be silly of me t' answer, wouldn't it...
A Russian has three an' a half red eyes
five flamin' antennas
drags a beet-colored ball an' chain
an' wants t' slip germs
into my Coke machine
"burn the tree stumps at the border"
shout the sex-hungry lunatics
out warmongerin' in the early mornin'
"poison the sky so the planes won't come"
yell the birch colored knights with
"an' murder all the un-Americans"
say the card-carryin' American
(yes we burned five books last week)
as my friend, Bobby Lee,
walks back an' forth
free now from his native Harlem
where his ma still sleeps at night
hearin' rats inside the sink
an' underneath her hardwood bed
an' walls of holes
where the cold comes in
wrapped in blankets
an' she, God knows,
ain't there no closer villains
than the baby-eatin' Russians
rats eat babies too
I talked with one
of the sons of Germany
while walkin' once on foreign ground
an' I learned that
as we here in the states
Robert E Lee
fasten up your
an' buy new bolts
for your neck
there is no right wing
or left wing...
there is only one up wing
an' down wing
last night I dreamt
that while healin' ceilings
up in Harlem
I saw Canada ablaze
an' nobody knowin'
nothin' about it
except of course
who held the match
Yes, I am a thief of thoughts
not, I pray, a stealer of souls
I have built an' rebuilt
upon what is waitin'
for the sand on the beaches
carves many castles
on what has been opened
before my time
a word, a tune, a story, a line
keys in the wind t' unlock my mind
an' t' grant my closet thoughts backyard air
it is not of me t' sit an' ponder
wonderin' an' wastin' time
thinkin' of thoughts that haven't been thunk
thinkin' of dreams that haven't been dreamt
an' new ideas that haven't been wrote
an' new words t' fit into rhyme
(if it rhymes, it rhymes
if it don't, it don't
if it comes, it comes
if it won't, it won't)
no I must react an' spit fast
with weapons of words
wrapped in tunes
that've rolled through the simple years
teasin' me t' treat them right
t' reshape them an' restring them
t' protect my own world
from the mouths of all those
who'd eat it
an' hold it back from eatin' it's own food
for all songs lead back t' the sea
an' at one time, there was
no singin' tongue t' imitate it)
t' make new sounds out of old sounds
an' new words out of old words
an' not t' worry about the new rules
for they ain't been made yet
an' t' shout my singin' mind
knowin' that it is me an' my kind
that will make those rules...
if the people of tomorrow
really need the rules of today
rally 'round all you prosecutin' attorneys
the world is but a courtroom...
but I know the defendants better 'n you
and while you're busy prosecutin'
we're busy whistlin'
cleanin' up the courthouse
winkin' t' one another
your spot is comin' up soon
Oh where were these magazines
when I was bummin' up an' down
up an' down the street?
is it that they too just sleep
in their high thrones...openin'
their eyes when people pass
expectin' each t' bow as they go by
an' say "thank you Mr. Magazine.
did I answer all my questions right?"
ah but mine is of another story
for I do not care t' be made an oddball
bouncin' past reporters' pens
cooperatin' with questions
aimed at eyes that want t' see
"there's nothin' here
go back t' sleep
or look at the ads
on page 33"
I don't like t' be stuck in print
starin' out at cavity minds
who gobble chocolate candy bars
quite content an' satisfied
their day complete
at seein' what I eat for breakfast
the kinds of clothes I like t' wear
an' the hobbies that I like t' do
I never eat
I run naked when I can
my hobby's collectin' airplane glue
"come come now Mr. Dylan our readers want
t' know the truth"
"that is the bare hungry sniffin' truth"
"Mr. Dylan, you're very funny, but really now"
"that's all I have t' say today"
"but you'd better answer"
"that sounds like some kind a threat"
"it just could be ha ha ha ha"
"what will be my punishment"
"a rumor tale on you ha ha"
"a what kind of tale ha ha ha ha"
"yes well you'll see, Mr. Dylan, you'll see"
an' I seen
or rather I have saw
your questions're ridiculous
an' most of your magazines're also ridiculous
caterin' t' people
who want t' see
the boy nex' door
no I shall not cooperate with reporters' whims
there're other kinds of boys nex' door.
even though they've slanted me
they cannot take what I do away from me
they can disguise it
make it out t' be a joke
an' make me seem
the ridiculous one
in the eyes of their readers
they can build me up
accordin' t' their own terms
so that they are able
t' bust me down
an' "expose" me
in their own terms
givin' blind advice
t' unknowin' eyes
who have no way of knowin'
that I "expose" myself
every time I step out
on the stage
The night passes fast for me now
an' after dancin' out its dance
leavin' nothin' but its naked dawn
I have seen it sneak up countless
times...leavin' me conscious
with a thousand sleepy thoughts
an' tryin' t' run
I think at these times
of many things an' many people
I think of Sue most times
with the lines of a swan
as a fawn in the forest
by this time deep in dreams
with her long hair spread out
the color of the sun
soakin' in the dark
an' scatterin' light
t' the dungeons of my constant night
I think love poems
as a poor lonesome invalid
knowin' of my power
the good souls of the road
that know no sickness
(you ask of love?
there is no love
except in silence
an' silence doesn't say a word)
ah but Sue
she knows me well
perhaps too well
an' is above all
the true fortuneteller of my soul
I think perhaps the only one
(you ask of truth?
there is no truth
what fool can claim t' carry the truth
for it is but a drunken matter
tragic? no I think not)
the door still knocks
an' the wind still blows
bringin' me my memories
of friends an' sounds an' colors
that can't escape
trapped in keyholes
far in Boston
buried beneath my window
yes I feel t' dig the ground up
but I'm so tired
an' know not where t' look for tools
rap tap tap
the rattlin' wind
blows Geno in
tellin' me of Philistines
that he'd run into durin' the night
he stomps across my floor
an' drink cold coffee an' old wine
light of feelin'
as I listen t' one of my own tongues
take the reins
guide the path
an' drop me off...headin' back again
t' take care of his end of the night
slam an' Geno
then too is gone
outside a siren whines
leadin' me down another line
I jump but get sidetracked
by clunkin' footsteps
down the street
(it is as though my mind
ain't mine t' make up
I wonder if the cockroaches
still crawl in Dave an' Teri's
fifteenth street kitchen
I wonder if they're the same cockroaches
ah yes the times've changed
Dave still scorns me for not readin' books
an' Teri still laughs at my rakish ways
but fifteenth street has been abandoned
we have moved...
the cats across the roof
mad in love
scream into the drainpipes
bringin' in the sounds of music
the only music
an' it is I who is ready
ready t' listen
a silver peace
becomes the nerves of mornin'
an' I stand up an' yawn
hot with jumpin' pulse
for I am runnin' in a fair race
with no racetrack but the night
and no competition but the dawn
So at last at least
the sky for me
is a pleasant gray
or meanin' snow
constantly meanin' change
but a change forewarned
either t' the clearin' of the clouds
or t' the pourin of the storms
an' after its desire
returnin' with me underneath
returnin' with it
it will guide me well
across all bridges
inside all tunnels
with the sounds of Francois Villon
echoin' through my mad streets
as I sumble on lost cigars
of Bertolt Brecht
an' empty bottles
of Brendan Behan
the hypnotic words
of AL Lloyd
each one bendin' like its own song
an' the woven spell of Paul Clayton
entrancin' me like China's plague
drownin' in the lungs of Edith Piaf
an' in the mystery of Marlene Dietrich
the dead poems of Eddie Freeman
love songs of Allen Ginsberg
an' jail songs of Ray Bremser
the narrow tunes of Modigliani
an' the singin' plains of Harry Jackson
the cries of Charles Aznavour
through the quiet fire of Miles Davis
above the bells of William Blake
an' beat visions of Johnny Cash
an' the saintliness of Pete Seeger
strokin' my senses
when I need t' drown
for my road is blessed
with many flowers
an' the sounds of flowers
liftin' lost voices of the ground's people
no matter what creed
no matter what color skin
no matter what language an' no matter what land
for all people laugh
in the same tongue
in the same tongue
it's all endless
an' it's all songs
it's just one big world of songs
an' they're all on loan
if they're only turned loose t' sing
lonely? ah yes
but it is the flowers an' the mirrors
of flowers that now meet my
an' mine shall be a strong loneliness
t' the depths of my freedom
an' that, then, shall
remain my song
there's a movie called
"Shoot the Piano Player"
the last line proclaimin'
"music, man, that's where it's at"
it is a religious line
outside, the chimes rung
are still ringin'
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