Friday, September 25, 2009

Bob Dylan Song #153: One More Weekend

And with a reprise of that descending blues riff Dylan likes to whip out whenever he's in a rockin' (or, excuse me, "rawkin'") mood, we get one of the most outright fun songs Bob had written in years, a combination of Bob hearkening to the '50s rock-n-roll "two chords and a cloud of dust" mentality (he even starts the song "slippin' and slidin'") and the swaggering bump and grind of "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat". One wonders what impetus Bob had to interrupt all the pretty, low-key piano-driven tracks (there's piano on this song, make no mistake, but it's mixed pretty low to let some slide guitar work carry the day instead) to break out some barroom raunchiness, but it's a pretty good change-up on this album and something of a welcome mood shifter. After the quiet genius of "Sign on the Window", it's pretty neat to immediately break in with Dylan indulging ol' Elston Gunn.

I suppose if you wanted to buy into the theory brought up in the last post (that the songs here had as much to do with Bob screwing around as anything else), this might be the star witness in the case, so to speak. Quoting bits out of the lyrics doesn't make as much sense as actually reading the lyrics themselves - just look at some of the stuff he talks about. He compares himself to a weasel, for the love of Pete! Sure, you can argue that Bob's trying to sing a song to his wife about spending one more weekend together like things used to be - leaving the kids behind and all that - and just being together. But...I mean, take a look at those lyrics again. Does that sound like the kind of thing you'd sing to the woman you roll over and take a look at every morning, or to the woman that you have a crazy, looking over the shoulder, sleeping together in tawdry motels relationship with? I have a pretty good idea what the answer to that would be.

Okay, I know that I've had the occasional flight of fancy that hasn't really worked out, but try to go with me here for a second. You're listening to this album, one that not only has a general lyrical theme of pastoral life, of songs of love and devotion (to whoever), and of doing things the simple way, but also has a general instrumental motif of piano, loose band arrangements, and so on. In other words, you've got a mood going on this album. And then bang - you've suddenly got a song that's basically a slowed-down, loosey-goosey version of something off of Loud, Fast, and Out of Control, Dylan basically saying "come on, baby, let's go downtown" to some random woman that may or may not - probably may not - be his wife. In other words, the mood's been blasted to smithereens by some nasty lead guitar, and we've gone from strolling in a winter wonderland to whiling away some weekend doing Lord knows what. What are we to make of that?

What we can make of that, I think, is that Dylan's basically written himself the equivalent of an interlude to his little one-act about country life, almost like he's throwing in a dream sequence for the hero to fantasize about when he's peeling potatoes or reading "Jack and the Beanstalk" or something. Consider that the album then goes from "One More Weekend" directly into "The Man In Me" (which I've always figured was meant to be the album's centerpiece and linchpin, especially since the last two songs are short and almost anticlimactic), one of Dylan's most simplistic and direct declarations of love. If you want to assume Dylan's singing about somebody other than his wife in this song (and, I suppose, every other song here by proxy), I can certainly see that. But if you take the album on its face value and assume Dylan's being the family man both in life and in song, then "One More Weekend" takes on a completely different role. And, let's be honest, it's a pretty strong little bit of temptation, to head off on a cruise somewhere away from the kids and from his remote country home. You almost can't blame Bob for eventually succumbing to it.

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Anonymous said...

Fine analysis, assuming it's a concept album.

Tony said...

Fine analysis, assuming it's a concept album.

And that IS the rub, no? Otherwise, it's just a fun rock song.

Pearce said...

I don't think Tony mentioned it being a concept album, he's just pointed out New Morning's themes and musical template and noted that this song marks a distinct change from that.

Good post.

Anonymous said...

interesting blog. i went to the start and back to post this comment. bob's 1st producer was
john hammond & his 2nd tom wilson. you keep calling john hammond tom. just thought i'd let you know.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on the relationship between the slide guitar line in One More Weekend and Howlin Wolf's take on Little Red Rooster (aka The Red Rooster)?

David George Freeman said...

Hello there, thank you for posting this fine analysis. Had enough reading and writing? Then listen to every version of every song at Join us inside.