I believe that Bob Dylan’s lyrics are poetry, plain and simple. He strings words together in an incredibly dense, evocative way. Putting them to music doesn’t overshadow the power of the words, either. It simply lends subtle, understated support to the effect they produce. Good folk music has that incredible ability to convey feeling without manipulating the listener’s emotions. It doesn’t tell you how to feel. It puts you in touch with what’s already in your soul, because it appeals to the things that we all have in common.

And you know that it’s something special you’re needin’
And you know that there’s no drug that’ll do for the healin’
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding

Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan

For this reason, I listen to Bob Dylan’s music almost daily. Although I know he’s published some poetry, I’ve never bothered to seek out his poems. Recently, however, one of them found me. The other day, I decided to check out the Bob Dylan offerings on Amazon Music, and I started by listening to The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3. At the end of the first volume, I stumbled upon a live recitation of a poem called “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie.” It’s a charming ramble on coping with life’s hardships, and remaining hopeful and optimistic. It was just what I needed on a day when I’m feeling down. The recording provides the audio for the video below. I find the video itself distracting, but when I close my eyes, Dylan’s voice delivers that “something special [I’m] needin’.”

You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it’s you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you’re sitting
That the world ain’t got you beat
That it ain’t got you licked
It can’t get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked

Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan

Sometimes, a mood needs to be indulged. Getting deeper into a mood, and probing all of its dark places, can help to break the cycle of repetitive, negative thoughts. This, I find, is when it’s beneficial to write, to bleed all over the page. At other times, you simply need something to “stop yer brain from bleeding.” When there are no further feelings and thoughts to explore, it’s time to put a plug in it, and move on. This week, it’s the latter for me. I’m finding it hard to write anything, but poetry and folk music are calling to me. When I’m exhausted beyond belief, both mentally and physically, I can still draw strength from the words that others have written.

Read more about celebrating National Poetry Month, check out my other posts on poetry, and check back throughout the month for more in this series.

One thought on “A Drug That’ll Do for the Healin’

  1. I enjoyed the Woodie Guthrie poem… and I especially liked the visual illustrations. Illustrating videos and other presentations is something I used to do when I had my own production company. I miss it.

    Liked by 1 person

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