Thursday, November 16, 2017

Every step of the way we walk the line
Your days are numbered, so are mine
Time is pilin’ up, we struggle and we scrape,
We’re all boxed in, nowhere to escape

City’s just a jungle; more games to play
Trapped in the heart of it, tryin' to get away
I was raised in the country, I been workin’ in the town
I been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down


Got nothin' for you, I had nothin' before
Don’t even have anything for myself anymore
Sky full of fire, pain pourin’ down
Nothing you can sell me, I’ll see you around

All my powers of expression and thoughts so sublime
Could never do you justice in reason or rhyme
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Well, the devil’s in the alley, mule’s in the stall
Say anything you wanna, I have heard it all
I was thinkin’ 'bout the things that Rosie said
I was dreaming I was sleepin' in Rosie’s bed

Walkin' through the leaves, falling from the trees
Feelin' like a stranger nobody sees
So many things that we never will undo
I know you’re sorry, I’m sorry too

Some people will offer you their hand and some won’t
Last night I knew you, tonight I don’t
I need somethin’ strong to distract my mind
I’m gonna look at you ’til my eyes go blind

Well I got here followin' the southern star
I crossed that river just to be where you are
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Well my ship’s been split to splinters and it’s sinkin' fast
I’m drownin’ in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it’s light and it’s free
I’ve got nothin’ but affection for all those who’ve sailed with me

Everybody movin’ if they ain’t already there
Everybody got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interestin' right about now

My clothes are wet, tight on my skin
Not as tight as the corner that I painted myself in
I know that fortune is waitin’ to be kind
So give me your hand and say you’ll be mine

Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long


12 comments:

Mr. Baez said...

I hadn't read the lyrics and only listened to Dylan's voice on this great song; so many wonderful couplets. A satisfying read. Thanks for sharing it in its entirety.

peabody nobis said...

One of Dylan's best, ever. Released on 09/11/01, the day of the terrorist attacks. As much as I loved the record, there was much discord at the time, which has only increased since then.

Michael Giltz said...

No wonder he won the Nobel!

A walk in the woods said...

One of his best!

Bill said...

this song has been running around in my head for the last week or so. I've tracked down some cover versions--including by Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks--that I don't think capture the weariness of Dylan's lyrics.

A towering song.

big bad wolf said...

dylan's work starting with time out of mind have clinched, for me, that he is the giant of the rock era. mississippi mesmerizes. like many of his later songs, it puts the undeniable songs of his youthful genius to shame. the songs of the young dylan will remain interesting; the song of the older dylan strike me as songs that will be here as folk music whether we turn into AI bots or collapse into some new dark ages. they are that somehow aged, here, and prescient at once. unlike the songs of his youth they are never superior, never merely clever or cutting; they know and feel too much of the within of too many.

Anonymous said...

Poetry versus lyrics that is the question.

I vote incredible lyrics.

Captain Al

Noam Sane said...

I'm with B.B Wolf, above, and very well said. But this song has got to be the jewel from that remarkable string of records. It also seems to stand up to any arrangement he throws at it, which is a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

The jewel from that remarkable string of records is "Red River Shore." Check it.

Chris Collins said...

Although I LOVE "Red River Shore" I still vote for "Mississippi". That song is one of his 5 best ever. Maybe THE best.

Anonymous said...

The spare two guitar arrangement on Tell Tale Signs highlights the lyrics much better than the full band version on Love and Theft. Dylan's vocal sounds farther away and more deeply felt in that version as well. A terrific lyric, and of course being Dylan it skirts all known rules for writing lyrics. Supposedly Bob worked on this set of songs (Mississippi was first recorded for Time Out of Mind in 1997) intensely for a year or so prior to showing them to Daniel Lanois, and I think the effort shows.

big bad wolf said...

red river shore is tremendous, beatles and stones aside, it might be most anyone else's career best. red river shore depends on its romantic bereftness. it leaves open the possibility that the romance never was, doubling the never seen-ness of the narrator, his inability to find confirmation of his existence. or maybe tripling it. it happened, she moved on, everyone else who sort of noted the relationship moved past any sense of it, and he can't quite make it real. he is lazarus, but not quite come from the dead.
great as red river shore is, i think mississippi leaves it in the dust. red river reaches for empathy. its narrator wants to be heard and empathised with. its narrator wants to have his loneliness recognized. mississippi just is. there is no romance or reaching or excuse. the endless emptiness is inevitable and unavoidable, not because she was lost. it was, is, and shall be, between ballgames and loves. that day too long is every day, endless and cold. amazing.

As good as the version on Love and Theft is i completely agree that the Tell Tale Signs spare version brings out the lyric.

The other revelation on TTS, for me, is most of the time, a song i barely noticed on oh, mercy that, slowed down, is arresting.