Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie


Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie
(edited) ~ by Bob Dylan

When yer head gets twisted
and yer mind grows numb
When you think you’re too old,
too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin’ behind
an’ losin’ yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl
of life’s busy race
No matter what yer doing
if you start givin’ up
If the wine don’t come
to the top of yer cup
If the wind’s got you sideways
with one hand holdin’ on
And the other starts slipping
and the feeling is gone
And yer train engine fire
needs a new spark to catch it
And the wood’s easy findin’
but yer lazy to fetch it
And yer sidewalk starts curlin’
and the street gets too long
And you start walkin’ backwards
though you know its wrong
And lonesome comes up
as down goes the day
And tomorrow’s mornin’
seems so far away

And you feel the reins
from yer pony are slippin’
And yer rope is a-slidin’
’cause yer hands are a-drippin’
And yer sun-decked desert
and evergreen valleys
Turn to broken down slums
and trash-can alleys
And yer sky cries water
and yer drain pipe’s a-pourin’
And the lightnin’s a-flashing
and the thunder’s a-crashin’
And the windows are rattlin’
and breakin’
and the roof tops a-shakin’
And yer whole world’s a-slammin’
and bangin’
And yer minutes of sun
turn to hours of storm
And to yourself
you sometimes say
“I never knew
it was gonna be this way
Why didn’t they tell me
the day I was born”

And you start gettin’ chills
and yer jumping from sweat
And you’re lookin’ for somethin’
you ain’t quite found yet
And yer knee-deep
in the dark water
with yer hands in the air
And the whole world’s a-watchin’
with a window peek stare
And yer good gal leaves
and she’s long gone a-flying
And yer heart feels sick
like fish when they’re fryin’
And yer jackhammer falls
from yer hand to yer feet
And you need it badly
but it lays on the street
And yer bell’s bangin’ loudly
but you can’t hear its beat
And you think yer ears
might a been hurt
Or yer eyes’ve turned filthy
from the sight-blindin’ dirt
And you figured you failed
in yesterdays rush
When you were faked out an’ fooled
white facing a four flush
And all the time
you were holdin’ three queens
And it’s makin you mad,
it’s makin’ you mean
Like in the middle of Life magazine
Bouncin’ around a pinball machine
And there’s something on yer mind
you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace
oughta be hearin’
But it’s trapped on yer tongue
and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly
when your layin’ in bed
And no matter how you try
you just can’t say it
And yer scared to yer soul
you just might forget it
And yer eyes get swimmy
from the tears in yer head
And yer pillows of feathers
turn to blankets of lead
And the lion’s mouth opens
and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin’
with you underneath
And yer flat on your belly
with yer hands tied behind
And you wish you’d never taken
that last detour sign

And you say to yourself
just what am I doin’
On this road I’m walkin’,
on this trail I’m turnin’
On this curve I’m hanging
On this pathway I’m strolling,
in the space I’m taking
In this air I’m inhaling
Am I mixed up too much,
am I mixed up too hard
Why am I walking,
where am I running
What am I saying,
what am I knowing
On this guitar I’m playing,
on this banjo I’m frailin’
On this mandolin I’m strummin’,
in the song I’m singin’
In the tune I’m hummin’,
in the words I’m writin’
In the words that I’m thinkin’
In this ocean of hours
I’m all the time drinkin’
Who am I helping,
what am I breaking
What am I giving,
what am I taking

But you try
with your whole soul best
Never to think these thoughts
and never to let
them kind of thoughts gain ground
Or make yer heart pound
But then again you know
why they’re around
Just waiting for a chance
to slip and drop down
Cause sometimes you hear ’em
when the night times comes creeping
And you fear that they might
catch you a-sleeping
And you jump from yer bed,
from yer last chapter of dreamin’
And you can’t remember
for the best of yer thinking
If that was you
in the dream that was screaming
And you know that it’s something
special you’re needin’
And you know that there’s no drug
that’ll do for the healin’
And no liquor in the land
to stop yer brain from bleeding
And you need something special
Yeah, you need
something special all right
You need a fast flyin’ train
on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace
and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind
on a stream engine howler
That’s been banging and booming
and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles
a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus
that don’t bar no race
That won’t laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets
in the book
Will be rollin’ long after
the bubblegum craze
You’re need something
to open up a new door
To show you something
you seen before
But overlooked
a hundred times or more
You need something
to open your eyes
You need something
to make it known
That it’s you
and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing,
that space that you’re sitting
That the world ain’t got you beat
That it ain’t got you licked
It can’t get you crazy
no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special
all right
You need something special
to give you hope
But hope’s just a word
That maybe you said
or maybe you heard
On some windy corner
’round a wide-angled curve

But that’s what you need man,
and you need it bad
And yer trouble is
you know it too good
Cause you look
an’ you start getting the chills
Cause you can’t find it
on a dollar bill
And it ain’t
on Macy’s window sill
And it ain’t
on no rich kid’s road map
And it ain’t
in no fat kid’s fraternity house
And it ain’t
made in no Hollywood wheat germ
And it ain’t
on that dimlit stage
With that half-wit comedian on it
Ranting and raving
and taking yer money
And you thinks it’s funny
No you can’t find it
in no night club or no yacht club
And it ain’t in the seats
of a supper club
And sure as hell
you’re bound to tell
That no matter how hard you rub
You just ain’t a-gonna find it
on yer ticket stub
No, and it ain’t in the rumours
people are tellin’ you
And it ain’t
in the pimple-lotion
people are sellin’ you
And it ain’t
in no cardboard-box house
Or down any movie star’s blouse
And you can’t find it
on the golf course
And Uncle Remus can’t tell you
and neither can Santa Claus
And it ain’t in the cream puff
hair-do or cotton candy clothes
And it ain’t
in the dime store dummies
or bubblegum goons
And it ain’t
in the marshmallow noises
of the chocolate cake voices
That come knockin’ and tappin’
in Christmas wrappin’
Sayin’ ain’t I pretty
and ain’t I cute
and look at my skin
Look at my skin shine,
look at my skin glow
Look at my skin laugh,
look at my skin cry
When you can’t even sense
if they got any insides
These people so pretty
in their ribbons and bows
No you’ll not now
or no other day
Find it on the doorsteps
made out-a paper mache
And inside it
the people made of molasses
That every other day
buy a new pair of sunglasses
And it ain’t
in the fifty-star generals
and flipped-out phonies
Who’d turn yuh in
for a tenth of a penny
Who breathe and burp
and bend and crack
And before you can count
from one to ten
Do it all over again
but this time behind yer back
My friend

The ones that wheel and deal
and whirl and twirl
And play games with each other
in their sand-box world
And you can’t find it either
in the no-talent fools
That run around gallant
And make all rules
for the ones that got talent
And it ain’t in the ones
that ain’t got any talent
but think they do
And think they’re foolin’ you
The ones who jump on the wagon
Just for a while
’cause they know it’s in style
To get their kicks,
get out of it quick
And make all kinds
of money and chicks
And you yell to yourself
and you throw down yer hat
Sayin’, “Christ …
do I gotta be like that
Ain’t there no one here
that knows where I’m at
Ain’t there no one here
that knows how I feel
Good God Almighty

No but that ain’t yer game,
it ain’t even yer race
You can’t hear yer name,
you can’t see yer face
You gotta look some other place
And where do you look
for this hope that yer seekin’
Where do you look
for this lamp that’s a-burnin’
Where do you look
for this oil well gushin’
Where do you look
for this candle that’s glowin’
Where do you look
for this hope
that you know is there
And out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk
down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look
through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell
two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs
Or . . .
~ by Bob Dylan

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:
if any man hear my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me”. ~ Jesus

Photo: Daniel Kramer

77 thoughts on “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie”

      1. Thanks for the follow David, I’ll have my shower, it’s nearly midday here, only a mierable wet 10’C, my mate coming around, and we’ll go find my car, down near the pub somewhere, after last nights session !!

        Liked by 2 people

  1. My God, this is quite a screed.
    Woody was too much of a leftist simpleton for me. I loved his songs as a kid, but later I discerned the socialist naivetΓ©.
    I don’t think Guthrie was saved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The lyrics to Dylan’s
      ‘It’s Alright, Ma (I’m only bleeding)’,
      are alone worthy
      of a Nobel Peace Prize.

      Chris, you know about
      the Irishman who invented
      the silent alarm clock ⏰?
      They awarded him
      the No Bell Peace Prize.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes Chris, I’ll profile that away,
        in my politically correct filing cabinet,
        under, “Racial but Factual”.
        The Irish truly are a breed apart,
        as my wife, from county Monaghan,
        keeps reminding me.


      2. And the invisible Welsh puka 6 ft. tall bunny rabbit (a friend of the sleeping Irishman) would go from hangover to Harvey Wallbanger to headbanger in a single minute all with the stroke of a regular alarm clock.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve come back to this comment three times. Lol I could not comment a deserving response. Salubrious poetry is a feast in itself but in poetry can there really be whining?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought this was you. Until I read it all until the end. I have to say. This part for me is what sticks out: You need something
    to make it known
    That it’s you
    and no one else that owns
    That spot that yer standing,
    that space that you’re sitting / this entails the whole idea of perception, individuation, but also, the value of life and our own lives. The preciousness of it. And the why we must live up to it. Just from there we can expand. Let alone if I was to pick more lines.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s up to you
      to create
      your own ‘personal space’,
      with style and grace.
      To be, or not to be …
      Fulfillment, or just avoiding
      the void with distractions
      of side show attractions.
      Claim it … Own it.
      with a.whisper or a shout.
      Life is a privilege.
      Don’t sell it short.
      Don’t throw it out


  3. But as you know. There is more than 2 ways of viewing the world. Although in some ways he taps on the contrast and binarity (does that exist? From binary) or duality of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luiza,
      I’m no heavy duty philosopher.
      The Dylan once said,
      “Don’t think twice, it’s alright”.
      That’s enough duality
      for a simple me . . .
      till I’ve had my morning coffee.
      Then It’s beyond to the galaxy
      of Holy Trinity.


      1. Haha I like how you answer me in this buzz. Well, I am afraid…I am just having my morning coffee and my head is exploding.currently stuck in a loop of a song I thought was long gone.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely. I saw that scene a while ago,
      and thought, this is a set up. Dylan doesn’t
      go anywhere in public without a bodyguard
      or two. Especially, in a fruit basket like
      Las Vegas. He likes to do the unexpected,
      and who would expect him to do a walk on
      cameo on Pawn Stars?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I bet Rick Harrison almost passed out. But, these days, Rick is pretty well known, too…albeit for a different reason.
        I read above that you blocked a Dylan despiser. How did you block someone on WordPress?
        Changing the subject completely, there is a Canadian that has some poetry on his blog. He is a scream and his humor reminds me if yours:

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The whole ‘Dylan Signature’ scenario I’m
        certain was a set up. The big giveaway is
        when Rick Harrison, in feigned frustration,
        gives the album to Chum Lee, since Dylan
        had personalised the signature.
        Rick Harrison is not that good an actor.
        Yes Victoria, I found one particular puffed
        up patronizing person who pontificates
        profusely pertaining to the Poet Laureate of
        Rock ‘n’ Roll prophecy, particularly putrifying.
        So I, first time ever, pushed the block button.
        It’s a button on the WordPress function.
        And thanks for the recommendation.
        I’ll check it out 😎


    1. Happy to be of service, Paul.
      Dylan actually penned a book of poetic
      surrealistic prose, called ‘Tarantula’.
      Reading it was a bit like being taken on an excursion through the Labyrinth of Beat by an eccentric refugee elf of Middle Earth.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Truly one of my favorite pieces by Bob. Though I’m a bit puzzled why you edited out the ending as Dylan wrote it:

    You can touch and twist
    And turn two kinds of doorknobs
    You can either go to the church of your choice
    Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
    You’ll find God in the church of your choice
    You’ll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

    And though it’s only my opinion
    I may be right or wrong
    You’ll find them both
    In the Grand Canyon
    At sundown

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just felt that Woody Guthrie is no longer in a hospital bed at that Brooklyn State Hospital.
      Guthrie had been one of those legendary
      folk music rambling men, who “come with
      the dust and are gone with the wind.”
      Agreed that it is a fascinating insight into
      where Dylan’s mind was at when he was at
      the folk music start of his epic career. About
      the time he was penning ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’.
      I appreciate your thoughts on the subject.
      Thanks for commenting, John πŸ™

      Liked by 1 person

    1. He was always an outsider in his
      own country due to his outpsoken
      views on social justice. Back when
      things were seen by the ruling elite
      as black or white, capitalist or
      communist. So poor Woody was
      designated a non-person, in the
      attempt to erase him from American
      cultural history. Bob Dylan did much
      to ensure that Woody Guthrie was
      not so easily forgotten.

      Liked by 1 person

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