Aug 5, 2021Liked by Ray Padgett

A nice perspective! And part of the greatness of the never-ending tour, and what keeps it interesting year after year, in my opinion. I'm listening to Yea heavy and a bottle of bread from 2003 now, by the way ... Looking forward to the next two parts!

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Yeah Heavy and a Bottle of Bread


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This is only Part 1 of 3, the really REALLY surprising stuff is still coming…

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Want to register my objection to the statement that Handy Dandy is a "goofy novelty song." As with much of Dylan, surfaces betray. Many of the songs on Under the Red Sky fall into this category--seemingly silly, deadly serious. I forget who it was, I think in RS--maybe Marc Jacobs?--who said he lamented the lack of Bob's early Borscht Belt humor in his later career. I think UTRS actually brings some of that back, similar to "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," a parable, funny, but with a vicious underside to it.

Handy Dandy is one of at least two songs in UTRS that makes a reference to the assassinated Louisiana demagogue Huey Long (the other is "Wiggle, Wiggle"). This lyric gives it away:

He got an all girl orchestra and when he says

"Strike up the band", they hit it

And here's the video, from the 1930s:


Obviously, the song isn't about Huey Long--it might not even be about anyone resembling Long much! But it's about a certain type of man--see the liner notes to World Gone Wrong for some hints--that Dylan's always been fascinated by: confident, popular, wealthy, manipulative, maybe wicked, but a human being, not a stereotype.

(Just as an aside, one of the pre-famous Ken Burns's documentaries in the 1980s was on Huey Long--I suspect Dylan saw it, and that's how we got these references. Pure speculation, of course.)

I see UTRS as in some ways a jeremiad about an America where people of that character have risen to leadership positions in the culture and in government, and what that's doing to us. Hence the last line: "May the Lord have mercy on us all!" Dylan does not say such things lightly.

I gave a talk on this at the Tulsa conference two years ago, maybe I'll get back to it one day.

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So they all sucked. Practice makes perfect!

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On 2009-03-22 he played Billy 4 for the first and, I believe the last time.

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Hazel was played as part of the Last Waltz set, I think. So he didn't wait 10 years to play it. But, still, a great song and worth including!

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