Song 7 - Po' Boy.

BY MIKE JOHNSON

Off the innovative 2001 album Love and Theft, the song casts a wide net from humour to sharp social commentary. The racial issue, always near the surface of American popular music, partly thanks to Bob Dylan’s early songs like Blowin’ in the Wind, is handled here quite playfully, but the intent is the same.

Time and love has branded me with its claws
Had to go to Florida, dodgin' them Georgia laws
Poor boy, in the hotel called the Palace of Gloom
Calls down to room service, says, "Send up a room"

This jazzy, minimal backing version from 2009 does justice to the song, as does Dylan’s weather-beaten voice, perfect for bringing out the world-weary ironies of the song. Dylan plays the stilted little organ riff and a fine, whimsical harmonica solo.

Next week: a rockin’ out version of Blowin’ in the Wind.

Po’ boy:

Man came to the door I say, "For whom are you looking?"
He says, "Your wife", I say, "She's busy in the kitchen cookin'"
Poor boy where you been?
I already tol' you won't tell you again

I say, "How much you want for that?", I go into the store
The man says, "Three dollars", "All right", I say, "Will you take four?"
Poor boy - never say die
Things will be all right by and by

Workin' like on the mainline, workin' like the devil
The game is the same it's just up on a different level
Poor boy, dressed in black
Police at your back

Poor boy in a red hot town
Out beyond the twinklin' stars
Ridin' first class trains making the rounds
Tryin' to keep from fallin' between the cars

Othello told Desdemona, "I'm cold, cover me with a blanket
By the way, what happened to that poison wine?"
She says, "I gave it to you, you drank it"
Poor boy, layin' 'em straight pickin' up the cherries fallin' off the plate

Time and love has branded me with its claws
Had to go to Florida, dodgin' them Georgia laws
Poor boy, in the hotel called the Palace of Gloom
Calls down to room service, says, "Send up a room"

My mother was a daughter of a wealthy farmer
My father was a traveling salesman, I never met him
When my mother died, my uncle took me in, he ran a funeral parlor
He did a lot of nice things for me and I won't forget him

All I know is that I'm thrilled by your kiss
I don't know any more than this
Poor boy, dressed in black
Police at your back

Knockin' on the door, I say, "Who is it and where are you from?"
Man says, "Freddy!" I say, "Freddy who?" He says, "Freddy or not here I come."
Poor boy 'neath the stars that shine
Washin' them dishes, feedin' them swine