“The people I feel sorry for are the ones who try to make definitive sense of a Bob Dylan lyric, particularly the stuff from his pre-motorcycle-crash-peak-amphetamine (and whatever else) period. I mean, take the first two lines of Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues. When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez and it’s Eastertime too – And your gravity fails And negativity don’t pull you through. You can go anywhere from there. Or nowhere. Which is the whole point, of course. Maybe. What I mean is, I first heard it when I was maybe fourteen, three decades ago now, and I’m sure I’ve heard it hundreds of times since, but I still couldn’t tell you what any of it’s actually about. Not a single line. And I don’t care. It takes me regardless, maybe nowhere at all. And if you don’t get the appeal in all that, then there’s someone you need to meet. His name is Mr. Jones.” (Philip Random)
For those that believe that Dylan is just random word salad, or that he’s a careless singer, out-takes/alt. versions like the one used in the linked video are so instructive. Every small change made in the released version improves the song.
I think you are so right about a lot of Bob Dylan songs of the pre-motorcycle crash/break period in your beautiful and concise description above–just not this one. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” is isn’t all that obscure, it’s just a bluesy take on a vacation/adventure/trip/spring break gone just a bit wrong.
thanks, Frank Hudson. On giving the lyrics the read, I can see your point.
I suppose a big part of that early Dylan genius was his willingness to risk “just random word salad” in order to expand his poetic reach.
Mission accomplished, to my mind.