A Bit Like You And Me Radio

March 28, 2013

Bob Dylan - Percy's Song (1963)

Bob Dylan’s first album, appropriately titled Bob Dylan, was comprised mostly of traditional folk tunes or tunes written by other folk artists. There were only two songs that were penned by Dylan himself (“Talkin’ New York” and “Song to Woody”). Dylan’s second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, featured nineteen tracks, most of which were written by him, with three borrowing heavily from other artists (“Corrina, Corrina,” “Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance,” and “I Shall Be Free”). Containing many political and some humorous songs, the popularity of the album began Dylan’s legacy as the “spokesman of a generation” as he shot to international stardom. By the time of Dylan’s third album, The Times They Are a-Changin’, he was recording one hundred percent of his own material. Attempting to reach the same success as Freewheelin’, which featured “Blowin’ in the Wind” and other lasting compositions, Dylan laced a-Changin’ with classics such as the eponymous “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “With God On Our Side,” “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” and more. The album reached number twenty in the United States and number four in the United Kingdom.

With ten tracks being chosen for the release of the album, there was quite a bit of material that had to be set aside. Three days after recording the final track of the song, Dylan performed a concert at Carnegie Hall that featured eight tracks from his soon-to-be-released album, as well as numerous songs that didn’t make the album’s final cut. Heard below is a song written by Dylan in 1963, omitted from the final cut of The Times They Are a-Changin’ and not officially released until the 1985 album Biograph. Although not officially released until 1985, the song was available via bootleg in a very rough version which was full of scratches, clicks, pops, and warps. This version is clean.

The song itself is based on the melody of the song “The Wind and the Rain,” which had been taught to Dylan by his friend, the folksinger Paul Clayton. The lyrics, written by Dylan, tell the story of a man who approaches a judge on behalf of his friend in Joliet Prison having recently been convicted of manslaughter. If you’re not a big fan of Bob Dylan, there’s a cover of this song performed by Fairport Convention which I highly recommend. That version appeared on their third album, Unhalfbricking.

album art

Bob Dylan - Percy's Song (1963)

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Lyrics:

Bad news, bad news
Came to me where I sleep
Turn, turn, turn again
Sayin’, “One of your friends”
“Is in trouble deep”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

Tell me the trouble
Tell once to my ear
Turn, turn, turn again
Joliet Prison
And ninety-nine years
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

Oh, what is the charge
Of how this came to be?
Turn, turn, turn again
Manslaughter
In the highest of degrees
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

I sat down and wrote
The best words I could write
Turn, turn, turn again
Explaining to the judge
I’d be there on Wednesday night
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

Without a reply
I left by the moon
Turn, turn, turn again
And was in his chambers
By the next afternoon
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

“Could you tell me the facts?”
I said without fear
Turn, turn, turn again
“That a friend of mine”
“Would get ninety-nine years”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

A crash on the highway
Flew a car into a field
Turn, turn, turn again
There was four persons killed
And he was at the wheel
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

But I know him as good
As I’m knowin’ myself
Turn, turn, turn again
And he wouldn’t harm a life
That belonged to someone else
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

The judge spoke
Out of the side of his mouth
Turn, turn, turn again
Sayin’, “The witness who saw”
“He left little doubt”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

“That may be true”
“He’s got a sentence to serve”
Turn, turn, turn again
“But ninety-nine years”
“He just don’t deserve”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

“Too late, too late”
“For his case, it is sealed”
Turn, turn, turn again
“His sentence is passed”
“And it cannot be repealed”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

“But he ain’t no criminal”
“And his crime it is none”
Turn, turn, turn again
“What happened to him”
“Could happen to anyone”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

At that the judge jerked forward
And his face it did freeze
Turn, turn, turn again
Sayin’, “Could you kindly leave
My office now, please?”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

The room was funny
And I stood up so slow
Turn, turn, turn again
With no other choice
Except but for to go
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

I walked down the hallway
And I heard his door slam
Turn, turn, turn again
I walked down the courthouse stairs
And I did not understand
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

I played my guitar
Through the night to the day
Turn, turn, turn again
And the only tune
My guitar could play
Was, “Oh the Cruel Rain
And the Wind”

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