New Morning

New Morning is perhaps the most successful of the many simple love songs on the album, New Morning. Personally, I’m a big fan of Dylan’s versions of McCartney’s “silly love” songs. Occasionally, these songs can be faulted, like many love songs, as being too mundane, too cliched, too simple-mind. Take, for example, Born in Time. Nice song and performance, but the lyrics are just too predictable, too easy. Dylan doesn’t often fall into this trap. He’s written many effective simple love songs, such as Love Sick, Tomorrow is a Long TIme, and If Not for You.

Al Kooper, who played a major role in the production and arrangement of the album, in an interview cited by Clinton Heylin in Behind the Shades, says that many of the songs on the album were “just things that were going on in his life. It’s like a diary.”

Stephen Scobie, in his book Bob Dylan: Alias, makes a point I think worth seconding. He notes that an off-heard criticism of Dylan is that only writes well when angry. Definitely not accurate. Scobie notes that this song is a good argument against that point of view. I’d say it’s not the best one, but point taken.

I wonder if Dylan was reading the Transcendentalist – Thoreau, Emerson et al – during this time period. Or perhaps it was just the result of living in the country. Either way, Dylan seems to be celebrating nature in a lot of the New Morning songs.

Dylan mentioned in an interview that this song, like Father of Night and Time Passes Slowly (according to Heylin), for Archibald MacLeish‘s play, Scratch, which was based on The Devil and Daniel Webster. Apparently, Dylan and MacLeish didn’t see eye-to-eye on the project, so the songs were not used.

Oliver Trager says in his Keys to the Rain that New Morning is a metaphor for rebirth after celebrity chaos of the 60s. Makes sense I suppose (although the whole happy simple life rings a little false with me).

Note the phrase “rooster crowin”, which is surely included, perhaps unconsciously, as the result of Dylan being so familiar with old folk and blues.

A more rambunctious version.

A more recent version.

Lyrics

Can’t you hear that rooster crowin’?
Rabbit runnin’ down across the road
Underneath the bridge where the water flowed through
So happy just to see you smile
Underneath the sky of blue
On this new morning, new morning
On this new morning with you

Can’t you hear that motor turnin’?
Automobile comin’ into style
Comin’ down the road for a country mile or two
So happy just to see you smile
Underneath the sky of blue
On this new morning, new morning
On this new morning with you

The night passed away so quickly
It always does when you’re with me

Can’t you feel that sun a-shinin’?
Groundhog runnin’ by the country stream
This must be the day that all of my dreams come true
So happy just to be alive
Underneath the sky of blue
On this new morning, new morning
On this new morning with you

So happy just to be alive
Underneath the sky of blue
On this new morning, new morning
On this new morning with you
New morning . . .

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