Song Lyric Sunday: Books – ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man’

Jim at A Unique Title For Me is looking for some educational or cultural references to meet the theme of this week’s Song Lyric Sunday: ‘School/Books/Learning’

‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ from Dylan’s 1965 album, Highway 61 Revisited’ is another selection where the key word is in the lyrics of the song rather than its title.

Mr Jones – increasingly uncomprehending of, and alarmed by, current events – seems to find little consolation in the fact that he has ‘been through all of F Scott Fitzgerald’s books’ (although that’s rather more than I have).

Sometimes it’s not enough to be ‘very well-read’, however very well known that fact may be.

You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you, you say, “Who is that man?”
You try so hard
But you don’t understand
Just what you will say
When you get homeBecause something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?You raise up your head
And you ask, “Is this where it is?”
And somebody points to you and says
“It’s his”
And you say, “What’s mine?”
And somebody else says, “Well what is?”
And you say, “Oh my God
Am I here all alone?”But something is happening
And you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?You hand in your ticket
And you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you
When he hears you speak
And says, “How does it feel
To be such a freak?”
And you say, “Impossible”
As he hands you a bone

And something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You have many contacts
Among the lumberjacks
To get you facts
When someone attacks your imagination
But nobody has any respect
Anyway they already expect you
To all give a check
To tax-deductible charity organizations
You’ve been with the professors
And they’ve all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You’ve been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books
You’re very well read
It’s well known

But something is happening here
And you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you
And then he kneels
He crosses himself
And then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice
He asks you how it feels
And he says, “Here is your throat back
Thanks for the loan”

And you know something is happening
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word “NOW”
And you say, “For what reason?”
And he says, “How?”
And you say, “What does this mean?”
And he screams back, “You’re a cow
Give me some milk
Or else go home”

And you know something’s happening
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, you walk into the room
Like a camel and then you frown
You put your eyes in your pocket
And your nose on the ground
There ought to be a law
Against you comin’ around
You should be made
To wear earphones

‘Cause something is happening
And you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Written by Bob Dylan

Song Lyric Sunday 17 March 2019

3 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: Books – ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man’

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