(Bob Dylan)

Bob Dylan (with "Greenbriar Boys" Ralph Rinzler & John Herald), 1961 (John Cohen)

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Influenced by Woody Guthrie's "Talking Subway" (as sung by John Greenway on "Talking Blues," 1958).

Version #1; as performed at Gerde's Folk City, prob. Apr 1962.
Transcribed by Manfred Helfert

Alternate lyrics to published version © 1962, 1965 Duchess Music Corp;
partially from "Talking Folklore Center", © 1969 Folklore Center & Consolidated Music Publishers, Inc.

Here's a New York song... alright...
This isn't like the usual New York songs...
A lot of the songs you hear nowadays about New York,
they're all the glamor kind on 42nd Street... Broadway theaters...
you hear 'em all the time --
New York, New York, the wonderful town,
let's go to New York for our vacation
and see what a great town it is --
this wasn't written up there where all those songs were written.
This is written down in the United States.

Ramblin' outa the wild West,
Leavin' the towns that I love the best.
I thought I'd seen some ups and down,
Till I rambled into New York town.
Buildings goin' down to the ground,
People goin' up to the sky.

Well, I got on the subway, took a seat [SUNG AS "sheet"]
An' got off on 42nd Street.
I met this fellow named Dolores there,
He started rubbin' his hands through my hair --
I run through ten hot-dog stands, four movie houses,
An' a couple of dancin' studios -- back on the subway.

Well, I swung on to my old guitar,
As I grabbed hold of that ol' subway car,
From a rockin', rollin', reelin' ride,
I landed up on the downtown side;
Greenwich Village, Folklore Center,
Izzy Young, Theodore Bikel

Well, I walked down there and I ended up
In one of the old coffee-houses on the block.
But I'd get on the stage to sing and play,
Man there say, "Come back some other day,
Sound like a hillbilly;
We want folk singers here."

Got a harmonica job, begun to play,
Blowin' my brains out for a dollar a day.
I blowed inside out and upside down.
The man there said he's crazy 'bout my sound,
He's ravin' about it, he's tellin' all his friends about it --
Dollar a day's worth.

And after weeks and weeks of hangin' around,
I finally got a job in New York town,
In a bigger place, bigger money too,
Even joined the union and paid m' dues --
Six months in advance.

Aw, some very great man he once said
Some people rob you with a fountain pen.
In New York it take... take [sic] too long to find out
Just what he was talkin' about [CHUCKLES].
Lot of people don't have too much food on their tables,
But they got a lotta forks, lotta knives,
And they gotta cut somethin' -- watch out.

So one mornin' when the sun was warm,
I rambled out of New York town.
Pulled my cap down over my eyes
Headed out for the western skies.
So long, New York.
Howdy, East Orange.

Version #2; from McKenzie manuscripts, Summer 1961.

First transcribed by Chris C. in "Isis", No. 44, Aug-Sep 1992.

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

I rambled to N Y one time,
Came to see a friend of mine.
After I finally found my way in,
Couldn't find my way out again

Too big -- mazes -- too many turnstiles -- people

When I rolled into this here town,
Two feet a snow covered the ground.
I couldn't find no place to stay,
I rode the subway for a couple of days.

Light it wouldn't turn off -- burnin'

Got off the train with no place to go,
Pushed my way through all that snow.
My head was swimming from all that cold,
Soon hands turned purple and feet they froze.

Paper said -- 17 years -- I -- bad

I happened to have my old guitar,
So I swung back into a subway car.
Got off somewhere way down-town.
Started off making the rounds

Rounds -- bars

I wandered down Mc Street,
Trying to play for something to eat.
But I'd play a song and the man would say,
Sorry we can't use you today.

Said--you--sound like a Hillbilly -- they wouldn Folk capital F

So one day I slipped out from 3rd Ave
Shovelling snow way out, there in ROCKVIEW
Me and about 30 other men,
Shovelled snow out from a railroad bridge.

I listened to the trains come rumblin' down,
watched them go too.

I found a harmonica Job and started to play,
Blowin' my lungs out for a dollar a day.
Blowed inside out and upside down,
Boss said he liked my sound

Dollar a days worth.

After weeks of me hangin' around,
I got me a job in this man's town,
In a better place with a bigger pay,
My name was even posted on this door outside of the place.

Now a very great man once said,
That some people rob you with a fountain pen.
It didn't take you long to find out,
Just what he was talkin' about.

That -- tables -- knives and forks -- cut something

So one day when the sun was down,
I rambled out of this here town.
I pulled my cap down over my eyes,
Headed out for western skies.

Goodbye N Y, Howdy East Orange