THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG

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FOREVER YOUNG: Quasi certamente dedicata da Bob ad uno dei suoi figli (Jakob? Jesse?)

FOREVER YOUNG
words and music Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Copyright © 1973 Ram's Horn Music
 
 
 

4th TIME AROUND:Sembrerebbe che Bob abbia scritto questa canzone in risposta a "Norwegian wood", celebre brano dei Beatles scritto da John Lennon. Sarebbe una specie di parodia di quella canzone. Altre fonti invece riportano la storia secondo cui Lennon avrebbe ascoltato la melodia di Fourth time around, l'avesse "rubata" a Dylan facendola diventare "Norwegian wood" da cui la replica ironica dell'amico americano. In un recente concerto addirittura Bob ha eseguito la sua Fourth time around utilizzando la musica di Lennon di "Norwegian wood" (una sorta di omaggio all'amico da tempo scomparso?)

4th TIME AROUND
words and music Bob Dylan

When she said,
"Don't waste your words, they're just lies,"
I cried she was deaf.
And she worked on my face until breaking my eyes,
Then said, "What else you got left?"
It was then that I got up to leave
But she said, "Don't forget,
Everybody must give something back
For something they get."

I stood there and hummed,
I tapped on her drum and asked her how come.
And she buttoned her boot,
And straightened her suit,
Then she said, "Don't get cute."
So I forced my hands in my pockets
And felt with my thumbs,
And gallantly handed her
My very last piece of gum.

She threw me outside,
I stood in the dirt where ev'ryone walked.
And after finding I'd
Forgotten my shirt,
I went back and knocked.
I waited in the hallway, she went to get it,
And I tried to make sense
Out of that picture of you in your wheelchair
That leaned up against . . .

Her Jamaican rum
And when she did come, I asked her for some.
She said, "No, dear."
I said, "Your words aren't clear,
You'd better spit out your gum."
She screamed till her face got so red
Then she fell on the floor,
And I covered her up and then
Thought I'd go look through her drawer.

And, when I was through
I filled up my shoe
And brought it to you.
And you, you took me in,
You loved me then
You didn't waste time.
And I, I never took much,
I never asked for your crutch.
Now don't ask for mine.

Copyright © 1966; renewed 1994 Dwarf Music
 
 
 

HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE: In una versione rielaborata successivamente di questo traditional ci si riferisce all'assassinio del presidente John Fitzgerald Kennedy avvenuto a Dallas

HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE
traditional arranged by Bob Dylan

He was a friend of mine
He was a friend of mine
Every time I think about him now
Lord I just can't keep from cryin'
'Cause he was a friend of mine

He died on the road
He died on the road
He never had enough money
To pay his room or board
And he was a friend of mine

I stole away and cried
I stole away and cried
'Cause I never had too much money
And I never been quite satisfied
And he was a friend of mine

He never done no wrong
He never done no wrong
A thousand miles from home
And he never harmed no one
And he was a friend of mine

He was a friend of mine
He was a friend of mine
Every time I hear his name
Lord I just can't keep from cryin'
'Cause he was a friend of mine.

Ecco di seguito la versione riscritta nel 1963 dopo l'assassinio di Kennedy (interpretata dai Byrds)

He was a friend of mine
He was a friend of mine
His killing had no purpose
No reason or ryhme
He was a friend of mine

He was in Dallas town
He was in Dallas town
From a 6th floor window
A gunner shot him down
He died in Dallas town

He never knew my name
He never knew my name
Though I never met him
I knew him just the same
He was a friend of mine

Leader of a nation
At such a precious time
He was a friend of mine

Copyright © 1962; renewed 1990 MCA
 

HURRICANE: Questo brano racconta la storia vera del pugile nero Rubin "Hurricane" Carter ingiustamente accusato di triplice omicidio e poi scagionato successivamente.
Dylan e Carter divennero grandi amici e Bob con una serie di concerti raccolse fondi per la causa di Rubin.
Per il testo in italiano di Hurricane vedi la sezione "Testi in italiano" di Maggie's Farm

HURRICANE
words Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy
music Bob Dylan

Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall.
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood,
Cries out, "My God, they killed them all!"
Here comes the story of the Hurricane,
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

Three bodies lyin' there does Patty see
And another man named Bello, movin' around mysteriously.
"I didn't do it," he says, and he throws up his hands
"I was only robbin' the register, I hope you understand.
I saw them leavin'," he says, and he stops
"One of us had better call up the cops."
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashin'
In the hot New Jersey night.

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin' around.
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that.
In Paterson that's just the way things go.
If you're black you might as well not show up on the street
'Less you wanna draw the heat.

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops.
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin' around
He said, "I saw two men runnin' out, they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates."
And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head.
Cop said, "Wait a minute, boys, this one's not dead"
So they took him to the infirmary
And though this man could hardly see
They told him that he could identify the guilty men.

Four in the mornin' and they haul Rubin in,
Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs.
The wounded man looks up through his one dyin' eye
Says, "Wha'd you bring him in here for? He ain't the guy!"
Yes, here's the story of the Hurricane,
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

Four months later, the ghettos are in flame,
Rubin's in South America, fightin' for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley's still in the robbery game
And the cops are puttin' the screws to him, lookin' for somebody to blame.
"Remember that murder that happened in a bar?"
"Remember you said you saw the getaway car?"
"You think you'd like to play ball with the law?"
"Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw runnin' that night?"
"Don't forget that you are white."

Arthur Dexter Bradley said, "I'm really not sure."
Cops said, "A poor boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we're talkin' to your friend Bello
Now you don't wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow.
You'll be doin' society a favor.
That sonofabitch is brave and gettin' braver.
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain't no Gentleman Jim."

Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
But he never did like to talk about it all that much.
It's my work, he'd say, and I do it for pay
And when it's over I'd just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail.
But then they took him to the jailhouse
Where they try to turn a man into a mouse.

All of Rubin's cards were marked in advance
The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance.
The judge made Rubin's witnesses drunkards from the slums
To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger.
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger.
And though they could not produce the gun,
The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed.

Rubin Carter was falsely tried.
The crime was murder "one," guess who testified?
Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride.
How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool's hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell.
That's the story of the Hurricane,
But it won't be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he's done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

Copyright © 1975 Ram's Horn Music

ISIS:
È lo stesso Dylan a spiegare, in occasione di un’esecuzione live del brano  (esattamente quella reperibile su “Biograph”), che Isis è una canzone sul matrimonio: “This  is a song about marriage”, dice. Potrà sembrare banale, ma sono profondamente convinto che Isis parli proprio di questo, del matrimonio. Più esattamente, è una canzone sulla crisi del matrimonio, sulla paura di non riuscire a sostenere un legame, come quello matrimoniale, (tendenzialmente) definitivo, sul desiderio di fuggire da tale legame, di   riacquistare la libertà, sul fascino delle tentazioni che si incontrano lungo il cammino (l’oro, i  diamanti e la più grossa collana del mondo). E, infine, sulla consapevolezza (che il Dylan di  Isis conquisterà solo al termine di un lungo viaggio attraverso canyons e piramidi) 
  dell’importanza di quel legame affettivo e dell’illusorietà e vacuità di una nuova vita senza Isis. Credo che ci sia molto di autobiografico in questa canzone: infatti, nel periodo in cui Bob l’ha scritta (non da solo, naturalmente, ma con l’aiuto di Levy), il suo matrimonio con Sara era oramai in crisi irreversibile, forse anche a causa della sua idiosincrasia (o, meglio, paura) verso qualunque forma di vincolo, più o meno definitivo, capace di limitare la sua libertà. E così il Dylan di Isis (voce narrante in prima persona) decide di fuggire il più lontano 
  possibile da quel 5 di maggio, giorno delle nozze con Isis (si taglia i capelli e lava i propri 
  vestiti), di cambiare radicalmente vita, insomma. È per questo motivo che cede alle 
  tentazioni, al canto delle sirene (l’uomo in un angolo che gli si avvicina per un fiammifero), 
  ovvero all’illusione di poter cancellare il suo matrimonio con Isis, ritornando indietro nel 
  tempo fino al quattro di maggio, fino, cioè, al giorno precedente a quel “fifth day of May” del suo matrimonio. E’ questo, secondo me, il significato del verso “we’d be back by the 
  fourth”, che ritengo preferibile tradurre: “torneremo indietro [nel tempo fino] al quattro [di maggio]” (e non “saremo di ritorno per il quattro”). Questa è la migliore notizia che il Dylan in fuga da Isis avrebbe mai potuto sentire! Il viaggio sarà lungo e non privo di insidie. Sarà però necessario: solo attraverso tale viaggio, Dylan comprenderà di amare Isis e di non  potere vivere senza di lei. Comprenderà di essere stato un pazzo a fuggire lontano da Isis  e a credere che ci fosse del vero nelle lusinghe-tentazioni dell’uomo (“Arrivai alla tomba ma la cassa era vuota non c'erano gioielli o altro, pensai di essere stato fregato…dovevo essere pazzo quando avevo accettato la sua offerta”). Dylan comprende che quel che cercava e di cui aveva bisogno non era né l’oro, né i diamanti e neppure la più grossa collana del mondo, ma solamente Isis ed una casa alla quale poter fare ritorno. Una 
  precisazione: quando Isis gli chiede “Resti?”, lui non risponde “Può darsi”, ma “If you want 
  me to, yes!”. 

  Credo che non sia necessario essere stati sposati per capire quanto siano vere le 
  sensazioni descritte da Dylan in Isis. Ciò non toglie che, come accade a molte delle sua 
  canzoni, Isis possa nascondere una serie infinita di altri significati. È interessante notare, 
  però, come Isis, a differenza di altre canzoni di Dylan, sia costruita come una vera e 
  propria storia, con un inizio ed una fine, una sorta di racconto breve, dotato di una coerenza narrativa (gli avvenimenti sono raccontati nella loro successione spazio-temporale: il 
  matrimonio, la fuga da Isis, il viaggio, il ritorno da Isis), molto probabilmente dovuta alla collaborazione con Levy, che facilita la comprensione del suo significato. 
Albert "Milkwood"

JOEY: La storia romanzata dell'ex-gangster italo-americano Joey Gallo la cui casa Dylan frequentò negli anni 70.
Joey dovette colpire l'immaginazione di Dylan da sempre affascinato dalle figure dei fuorilegge (basti pensare a canzoni da lui scritte per banditi come Billy the Kid, John Wesley Hardin, Ramblin' gamblin' Willie etc.).
Lo stesso Dylan interpretò la parte del bandito Alias, braccio destro di Billy the Kid, nel film di Sam Peckinpah "Pat Garrett e Billy the kid".

JOEY
words Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy
music Bob Dylan

Born in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in the year of who knows when
Opened up his eyes to the tune of an accordion
Always on the outside of whatever side there was
When they asked him why it had to be that way, "Well," he answered, "just
because."

Larry was the oldest, Joey was next to last.
They called Joe "Crazy," the baby they called "Kid Blast."
Some say they lived off gambling and runnin' numbers too.
It always seemed they got caught between the mob and the men in blue.

Joey, Joey,
King of the streets, child of clay.
Joey, Joey,
What made them want to come and blow you away?

There was talk they killed their rivals, but the truth was far from that
No one ever knew for sure where they were really at.
When they tried to strangle Larry, Joey almost hit the roof.
He went out that night to seek revenge, thinkin' he was bulletproof.

The war broke out at the break of dawn, it emptied out the streets
Joey and his brothers suffered terrible defeats
Till they ventured out behind the lines and took five prisoners.
They stashed them away in a basement, called them amateurs.

The hostages were tremblin' when they heard a man exclaim,
"Let's blow this place to kingdom come, let Con Edison take the blame."
But Joey stepped up, he raised his hand, said, "We're not those kind of men.
It's peace and quiet that we need to go back to work again."

Joey, Joey,
King of the streets, child of clay.
Joey, Joey,
What made them want to come and blow you away?

The police department hounded him, they called him Mr. Smith
They got him on conspiracy, they were never sure who with.
"What time is it?" said the judge to Joey when they met
"Five to ten," said Joey. The judge says, "That's exactly what you get."

He did ten years in Attica, reading Nietzsche and Wilhelm Reich
They threw him in the hole one time for tryin' to stop a strike.
His closest friends were black men 'cause they seemed to understand
What it's like to be in society with a shackle on your hand.

When they let him out in '71 he'd lost a little weight
But he dressed like Jimmy Cagney and I swear he did look great.
He tried to find the way back into the life he left behind
To the boss he said, "I have returned and now I want what's mine."

Joey, Joey,
King of the streets, child of clay.
Joey, Joey,
Why did they have to come and blow you away?

It was true that in his later years he would not carry a gun
"I'm around too many children," he'd say, "they should never know of one."
Yet he walked right into the clubhouse of his lifelong deadly foe,
Emptied out the register, said, "Tell 'em it was Crazy Joe."

One day they blew him down in a clam bar in New York
He could see it comin' through the door as he lifted up his fork.
He pushed the table over to protect his family
Then he staggered out into the streets of Little Italy.

Joey, Joey,
King of the streets, child of clay.
Joey, Joey,
What made them want to come and blow you away?

Sister Jacqueline and Carmela and mother Mary all did weep.
I heard his best friend Frankie say, "He ain't dead, he's just asleep."
Then I saw the old man's limousine head back towards the grave
I guess he had to say one last goodbye to the son that he could not save.

The sun turned cold over President Street and the town of Brooklyn mourned
They said a mass in the old church near the house where he was born.
And someday if God's in heaven overlookin' His preserve
I know the men that shot him down will get what they deserve.

Joey, Joey,
King of the streets, child of clay.
Joey, Joey,
What made them want to come and blow you away?

Copyright © 1975 Ram's Horn Music
 
 
 

JOKERMAN: Secondo quanto scritto da più persone, il Jokerman in questione sarebbe Dylan stesso.
You are the man of the mountains = Bob è nativo del Minnesota
Manipulator of crowd = Qui il senso apparirebbe abbastanza chiaro se visto in chiave autoironica
You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowin' = Secondo alcune interpretazioni il serpente in questione equivale al microfono

JOKERMAN
words and music Bob Dylan

Standing on the waters casting your bread
While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing.
Distant ships sailing into the mist,
You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was
blowing.
Freedom just around the corner for you
But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

So swiftly the sun sets in the sky,
You rise up and say goodbye to no one.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,
Both of their futures, so full of dread, you don't show one.
Shedding off one more layer of skin,
Keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

You're a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds,
Manipulator of crowds, you're a dream twister.
You're going to Sodom and Gomorrah
But what do you care? Ain't nobody there would want to marry your sister.
Friend to the martyr, a friend to the woman of shame,
You look into the fiery furnace, see the rich man without any name.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

Well, the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy,
The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers.
In the smoke of the twilight on a milk-white steed,
Michelangelo indeed could've carved out your features.
Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space,
Half asleep near the stars with a small dog licking your face.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
Oh. oh. oh. Jokerman.

Well, the rifleman's stalking the sick and the lame,
Preacherman seeks the same, who'll get there first is uncertain.
Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks,
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain,
False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin,
Only a matter of time 'til night comes steppin' in.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

It's a shadowy world, skies are slippery gray,
A woman just gave birth to a prince today and dressed him in scarlet.
He'll put the priest in his pocket, put the blade to the heat,
Take the motherless children off the street
And place them at the feet of a harlot.
Oh, Jokerman, you know what he wants,
Oh, Jokerman, you don't show any response.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman.

Copyright © 1983 Special Rider Music

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