SONG TO WOODY

(Bob Dylan/tune: WOODY GUTHRIE: "1913 MASSACRE") (1961)


Bob Dylan, 1961 (John Cohen)


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The Gleasons have a sheet of yellow ruled legal paper and on it, in Dylan's tight but somewhat sloppy handwriting is "A Song to Woody." At the bottom of this copy he wrote:
"Written by Bob Dylan in Mills Bar on Bleeker [sic] Street in New York City on the 14th day of February, for Woody Guthrie."
Kevin Krown clearly remembers that Dylan had written the song while he was in Chicago, a couple of months before this. It's possible Krown is mistaken. It is also possible that this was another minor Dylan deception, trying to leave the impression he had written it only after getting to know Woody. A little later, after he met Joan Baez sometime in March or April, friends remember him saying:
"Joanie wants to sing my 'Song to Woody.' But I ain't gonna let her. Don't like her. Don't want her to do any song about Woody because she don't know Woody."

Anthony Scaduto, Bob Dylan, London, 1973, pp. 56-57.


Partially alternate lyrics as performed by Bob Dylan, 1st Gaslight Tape, New York, NY, Sep 6, 1961;
transcribed by Manfred Helfert.
Published lyrics © 1962, 1965 Duchess Music.


I'm out here a thousand miles from my home,
Walkin' a road other men gone down,
Seein' your world of places and things,
Your paupers and peasants and princes and kings.

Hey, hey, Woody, I wrote you a song
'Bout a funny ol' world that's comin' along,
Sick an' it's hungry, it's tired an' it's torn,
It looks like it's a-dyin' an' never been born.

Hey, hey, Woody Guthrie, but I know that you know
All the things I'm a-sayin' an' a-many a times more.
I'm a-singin' you this song, but I can't sing enough,
'Cause there's not many men who done the things that you done.

Here's to Cisco an' Sonny an' Leadbelly too,
An' to all good people that traveled with you.
Here's to the hearts and the hands of the men
That come with the dust and are gone with the wind.

I'm leavin' tomorrow, but I could leave today,
Somewhere down the road someday.
The very last thing that I'd want to do
Is to say I been hittin' some hard travelin' too.


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