A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 250: A Master of Songcraft

Jakob

“Well this place is old
It feels just like a beat up truck
I turn the engine, but the engine doesn’t turn
Well it smells of cheap wine, cigarettes
This place is always such a mess
Sometimes I think I’d like to watch it burn”

I had a guitar teacher once upon a time who also happened to be a blues guitar player and songwriter. One time he quoted the lyric above and just shook his head and said, “Man, I wish I wrote that!”

Jakob Dylan wrote that lyric. Likely you’ve heard it as a couple of songs from The Wallflowers’ 1996 album “Bringing Down the Horse” got serious radio airplay. Jakob has an iconic and uber-famous songwriting father, of course, but he is one master of words and songcraft himself. That apple landed directly at the base of that tree! A couple of years ago I picked up a solo album he released in 2008 called “Seeing Things”. It only took a couple of listens for me to realize that I was hearing some incredible writing. Lines and couplets from the songs on this album are now entrenched in my brain.

Today on this blog I want to give a sample of lyrics from each song on the “Seeing Things” album. It is a collection of ten sublime songs, delivered with acoustic guitar and sparse arrangements. It’s a haunting sounding album and at times seems like music from a hundred years ago.

Here are the lyrics but I’d encourage you to search out the music as, really, Jakob intended this to be a complete-package deal.

from “Evil is Alive and Well”
May be too humble to want to speak
May have a blood soaked bird in its teeth
Smoked filled skies and bees in the well
Evil is alive and well
May be in a palace, it may be on the streets
May be here among us on a crowded beach
May be asleep in a roadside motel
But evil is alive and well

from “Valley of the Low Sun”
The earth’s still climbing as it keeps on grinding
Its way up around the sun
As cool water crashes down to the masses
Bootlegged and bottled like rum
My dreams are humble, lean as arrows
Streetwise ready and fair
As we bum rush the ages tied to the rails
On high seas not fit to be sailed
Whatever we’ve taken does feel like heaven
But baby we just look like hell
Act like you mean it where paradise was
In the valley of the low low sun

from “All Day and All Night”
I been working double shift all night
Bees make honey, I’m making mine
Good men are busy all the time
I been working double shift all night

My line of work suits me fine
Split that apple and chuck that rind
Pull no wishbone that ain’t dry
My line of work suits me fine

Sweet you ramble, sweet you roll
Through the bedrock of my soul
I got more good luck than I’ll ever use
All day and all night like a mule

from “Everybody Pays as They Go”
You’ve got to pull yourself together
Your chin up off your throat
Whistle for the dogs
And get your sled into the snow
Nothing’s ever buried
Under skull and bones
Everybody pays as they go

from “Will It Grow”
I made a promise to not let go
Our tug of war has only made me want you more
Steeped in hard luck and doomed to roam
My love is braver than you know

My forefathers they worked this land
And I was schooled in the tyranny of nature’s plans
Dressed in thunder a cloud came round
In the shape of a lion a hand came down

from “I Told You I Couldn’t Stop”
All this beauty’s sticky sweet
This naughty world is due for a good deed
Give me your poor tired huddled masses
Bring the head of a mule and my glasses
Sing that lonesome high melody
Rumble young man but rumble behind me

from “War is Kind”
Like a lost dog between houses
In the unknown open country
Line up at dawn to see who’s missing
My age is a metaphor
It only speaks of everything before

from “Something Good This Way Comes”
Watching the streets filling up
In the shade of the summer sun
Sweet apple pie on the stove
The birds they’re all flying low
‘Cause they know
Something good this way comes

from “On Up the Mountain”
Here it comes and there it goes
The unbearable sound
Of the earth making men out of boys
First you learn, then you’ll teach
About the bright light

There’s a light making its way
On up the mountain night and day
You’ll go down and you’ll go deep
But you won’t surrender your masterpiece

from “This End of the Telescope”
Alone you ramble the whole of the world
Through black water jungles for bliss
It’s feast of famine you eat what you kill
There’s no need to bring God into this
My heart is heavy and pressed to the bone
Some people too heavy to hold
Salutations take me as I am
You can have me or leave me alone
Sun kissed lemons in a grave below
Here in death you see new adventures grow
I see you at last but mostly ghosts
On this end of the telescope

 

 

2 thoughts on “A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 250: A Master of Songcraft

  1. Greg says:

    Good Ron! I saw the Wallflowers in concert. I haven’t listened to this CD in years(?). You’re spot on with the writing chops, and Dylan 2.0 voice quality is pretty darn good too. Thanks for putting your fingers on the keys today! Aloha

    Liked by 1 person

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