Black Crow Blues

Commentary

Dylan plays keyboards on Black Crow Blues, the first time on an official recording. In 1959, he very briefly played piano in pop singer Bobby Vee’s band, using the alias Elston Gunn. (Vee saw Dylan’s picture on an album cover after he became well-known and remarked, “Hey, isn’t that Elston Gunn?”)

Dylan is not a great piano player. His playing is sometimes as subtle as a police bullhorn. Yet, it exudes considerable charm. On Black Crow Dylan barrels along with a rollicking enthusiasm that pulls the listener in like a rude but charismatic friend.

The rollicking music is incongruous with the dark lyrics. The song, continuing in the vein of All I Really Want to Do, outlines a crumbling relationship. The narrator tells of the devastating affect his lovers absence has caused, and his willingness to do anything to mend fences.

Dylan commentator Paul William’s notes that Dylan used Robert Johnson’s Kind-Hearted Woman as a model for the lyrics. Author Matthew Zuckerman sees a relationship with Richard “Rabbit” Brown’s James Alley Blues. Dylan’s cover of James Alley Blues can be found on many bootlegs, including The Minnesota Tapes.

Dylan has never played this song live. Maybe he will reconsider now that he is playing keyboards at his shows on a regular basis.

Alternate take,  Dylan on guitar.

The underrated Peter Case.


Lyrics

I woke in the mornin’, wand’rin’,
Wasted and worn out.
I woke in the mornin’, wand’rin’,
Wasted and worn out.
Wishin’ my long-lost lover
Will walk to me, talk to me,
Tell me what it’s all about.

I was standin’ at the side road
Listenin’ to the billboard knock.
Standin’ at the side road
Listenin’ to the billboard knock.
Well, my wrist was empty
But my nerves were kickin’,
Tickin’ like a clock.

If I got anything you need, babe,
Let me tell you in front.
If I got anything you need, babe,
Let me tell you in front.
You can come to me sometime,
Night time, day time,
Any time you want.

Sometimes I’m thinkin’
I’m too high to fall.
Sometimes I’m thinkin’
I’m Too high to fall.
Other times I’m thinkin’ I’m
So low I don’t know
If I can come up at all.

Black crows in the meadow
Across a broad highway.
Black crows in the meadow
Across a broad highway.
Though it’s funny, honey,
I just don’t feel much like a
Scarecrow today.

1 thought on “Black Crow Blues”

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