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Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

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2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Commentary

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Sad-Eyed has a compelling melody, one of not that many Dylan songs that leave the listener whistling long after the record stops playing. It’s a wonderful sounding song, written in the unusual 6/8 time.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The lyrics of the chorus are glorious. The repeated long vowels give it a sonorous, romantic sound. The biblical images of lowlands, prophets, and the giving of gifts to a god-like creature give the song a hymnal quality.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Lyrical gems are strewn all over. The first two lines:

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 With your mercury mouth in the missionary times
And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 A bunch of isolated phrases stand out for their freshness and surprise:

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 …flesh like silk
…your face like glass
…geranium kiss

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 There are also some not-so-great lyrical moments:

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 And your streetcar visions which you place on the grass…
And your cowboy mouth and your curfew plugs…
Now you stand with your thief, you’re on his parole…

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 The song never builds much narrative or emotional force. Tim Riley, author of Hard Rain, defines the problem well: “Dylan winds his way through situations and visions so vivid and yet so allusive that they end up only skirting the feelings he’s trying to get a handle on.”

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 The song is obviously written about Dylan’s first wife, Sara Lownds. In fact, Dylan tells us so in Sara, released on the Desire album of 1975.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 I can still hear the sound of the Methodist bells
I had taken the cure and had just gotten through
staying up for days in the Chelsea Hotel
writing “Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands” for you

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 The line “your magazine husband who just had to go” is another clue, given that Sara’s first husband was a fashion magazine photographer.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Curiously, in the performance released on the album Dylan changes the published line “My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums” to “My warehouse eyes as my Arabian drums”, which makes absolutely no sense (at least to me), and also makes the next line – when he speaks of “leaving them at her gate” – even more confused.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 This long song was recorded in one take. Dylan commentator Betsy Bowden notes that Dylan doesn’t slur the words in this performance; he’s very careful to enunciate each sound. When it was released on vinyl it took up an entire side all by itself. Dylan was certainly trying to make a grand statement, but maybe didn’t quite pull it off. Close though.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Others have a different take, including singer Tom Waits.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 For me, ‘Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands’ is a grand song. It is like Beowulf and it takes me out to the meadow. This song can make you leave home, work on the railroad or marry a Gypsy. I think of a drifter around a fire with a tin cup under a bridge remembering a woman’s hair. The song is a dream, a riddle and a prayer.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Dylan has never played the song live in front of an audience. A version can be found on the Renaldo and Clara soundtrack and the bootleg 1966 Denver Hotel Tape.

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22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Baez live in 1972.

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24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Steve  Howe  of Yes.

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29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 Lyrics

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 With your mercury mouth in the missionary times,
And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes,
And your silver cross, and your voice like chimes,
Oh, who among them do they think could bury you?
With your pockets well protected at last,
And your streetcar visions which you place on the grass,
And your flesh like silk, and your face like glass,
Who among them do they think could carry you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 With your sheets like metal and your belt like lace,
And your deck of cards missing the jack and the ace,
And your basement clothes and your hollow face,
Who among them can think he could outguess you?
With your silhouette when the sunlight dims
Into your eyes where the moonlight swims,
And your match-book songs and your gypsy hymns,
Who among them would try to impress you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 The kings of Tyrus with their convict list
Are waiting in line for their geranium kiss,
And you wouldn’t know it would happen like this,
But who among them really wants just to kiss you?
With your childhood flames on your midnight rug,
And your Spanish manners and your mother’s drugs,
And your cowboy mouth and your curfew plugs,
Who among them do you think could resist you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?s

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 Oh, the farmers and the businessmen, they all did decide
To show you the dead angels that they used to hide.
But why did they pick you to sympathize with their side?
Oh, how could they ever mistake you?
They wished you’d accepted the blame for the farm,
But with the sea at your feet and the phony false alarm,
And with the child of a hoodlum wrapped up in your arms,
How could they ever, ever persuade you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 With your sheet-metal memory of Cannery Row,
And your magazine-husband who one day just had to go,
And your gentleness now, which you just can’t help but show,
Who among them do you think would employ you?
Now you stand with your thief, you’re on his parole
With your holy medallion which your fingertips fold,
And your saintlike face and your ghostlike soul,
Oh, who among them do you think could destroy you
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

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Source: http://www.bobdylancommentaries.com/blonde-on-blonde/sad-eyed-lady-of-the-lowlands/