Obviously Five Believers

Commentary

Obviously Five Believers is a minor song. It’s inessential Dylan, something seemingly thrown in just to fill up the side. Still, even minor. The lyrics are throwaway, yet another sardonic breakup song, but they are not without interest. More importantly, Dylan and the Nashville session musicians really came up with the goods.

Five Believers is a blues number, with Dylan repeating the first couple of lines of most of the verses, and ending two of them with the same lines: “Yes, I guess I could make it without you/If I just didn’t feel so all alone”. The opening line – Early in the mornin’ – is used in many early blues songs. A search on Robert Taft’s Pre-War Blues Concordance produces over fifty hits on this phrase (including slight variations such as “early one morning”).

The term “black dog” has been in use for hundreds of years, often to symbolize death or depression. Winston Churchill used the phrase to describe his personal bouts with depression. See medical historian Paul Foley’s paper Black Dog as a Metaphor for Depression for an interesting discussion on how the phrase has been used in both songs and prose.

Dylan didn’t play the song live until he started using it as the show opener in 1995. No alternate version has been officially released.


Lyrics

Early in the mornin’
Early in the mornin’
I’m callin’ you to
I’m callin’ you to
Please come home
Yes, I guess I could make it without you
If I just didn’t feel so all alone

Don’t let me down
Don’t let me down
I won’t let you down
I won’t let you down
No I won’t
You know I can if you can, honey
But, honey, please don’t

I got my black dog barkin’
Black dog barkin’
Yes it is now
Yes it is now
Outside my yard
Yes, I could tell you what he means
If I just didn’t have to try so hard

Your mama’s workin’
Your mama’s moanin’
She’s cryin’ you know
She’s tryin’ you know
You better go now
Well, I’d tell you what she wants
But I just don’t know how

Fifteen jugglers
Fifteen jugglers
Five believers
Five believers
All dressed like men
Tell yo’ mama not to worry because
They’re just my friends

Early in the mornin’
Early in the mornin’
I’m callin’ you to
I’m callin’ you to
Please come home
Yes, I could make it without you
If I just didn’t feel so all alone

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