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TALKING BEAR MOUNTAIN PICNIC MASSACRE BLUES

(Bob Dylan)

"McKenzie manuscripts," Summer 1961


Bob Dylan, 1961 (John Cohen)


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First transcribed by Chris C. in "Isis", No. 45, Oct-Nov 1992.

Substantially alternate lyrics to published version © 1962, 1965 Duchess Music Corp.


...on June 19, 1961, Stookey sat in the Gaslight reading the New York Herald Tribune, which contained an article about a Father's Day boat cruise up the Hudson River to Bear Mountain that had gone awry due to counterfeit tickets and overcrowding. Stookey showed the story to a recent acquaintance, a 20­year­old singer named Bobby Dylan who had arrived in New York from Minnesota the previous winter. "I remember handing him an article on the Bear Mountain thing," Stookey said, "and he brought a song back the next day. Astounding." The song was "Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Disaster Blues," which Dylan wrote in the style of his idol, Woody Guthrie. Dylan was not at that point known as a songwriter, which made the composition all the more surprising.


I saw it advertised one day,
That the Bear Mountain Picnic was out this way.
Come along and take a trip,
We'll transport you there on a ship.

Bring the wife and kids, fun for all.

I ran down and got a ticket,
To this here Bear Mt. Picnic.
Little did I realise,
That I was in for a pleasant surprise.

Took the wife and kids down to the pier,
To see 6 thousand people there.
They all had tickets for the trip,
Oh its a pretty big ship.

Besides the more the merrier.

We all got in and what do you think,
The big boat started to sink.
More people kept piling on,
That old ship was a going down.

This ain't no way to start a picnic.

I lost sight of my kids and wife,
Never saw so many people in my life.
That ol boat sinking down in the water
6 thousand people fighting each other -- dogs barking etc.

Maybe we just better call off the picnic.

I was shoved down stumbled around,
All I could hear was a screaming sound.
From then on I don't remember no more,
I got knocked out & woke up on the shore.

As I got up and looked around,
There were people splattered about the ground.
Some were on land, some were afloat
Then I took one look at the boat.

Looked like the ghosts had come.

Feeling like I climbed out of my casket,
I grabbed hold of my picnic basket.
With my wife I started walking home,
Wishing I never got up that morn.

To hell with picnics.

So if you have a picnic that's up to you,
I don't care what you do.
But don't tell me I don't want to hear it,
Cause I lost all my picnic spirit.

Picnic in my bathroom.

Now it don't seem to me so very funny,
What some people will do for money.
There's a new gimmick everyday,
To take somebody's money away.

I think we oughta send all them people on a boat, send 'em up to Bear Mt.


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