“Blind Willy McTell”–Bob Dylan

Released in 1991 on the The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991

Dylan Plays “Blind Willie McTell” Live

Dylan’s folk ballad, “Blind Willie McTell” reminds me of the southern fiction of Faulkner or O’Conner. The story telling is at once dark, vivid, beautiful, and enigmatic. The extraordinary power of the language is still second to the plaintiff blues of the melody. This uniquely American song is written by a great American literary giant at the height of his story telling powers. At once lyric and narrative Dylan opens with:

Seen the arrow on the doorpost
Saying, “This land is condemned
All the way from New Orleans
To Jerusalem.”
I traveled through East Texas
Where many martyrs fell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell.

To follow an ominous beginning, Dylan drives it home like a shank in the gut:

English: Bob Dylan performing in Rotterdam, Ju...

English: Bob Dylan performing in Rotterdam, June 23 1978 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, God is in heaven
And we all want what’s his
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is
I’m gazing out the window
Of the St. James Hotel
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Dylan-Blind Willie McTell-Oberhausen 2011 

Amazing Covers

Allman Brothers  w/Bruce Katz & Danny Louis

Wanee Music Festival in Live Oak Florida 4/20/12

Oddly Unique Version (Audio Only) DREAM SYNDICATE

From the Album May Your Song Always be Sung – The Songs of Bob Dylan

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