Song of the Day #734: ‘Love Henry’ – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan followed up his first album of covers, Good As I Been to You, a year later with 1993’s very similar World Gone Wrong. Again, the album featured just Dylan on his guitar and harmonica playing old folk and blue songs.

This might be the first time in Dylan’s career that he repeated himself. Over the previous 30 years, each of his new albums invariably marked a thematic or stylistic change from its predecessor. But World Gone Wrong sounded like it could have been made up of the outtakes of Good As I Been to You. The album received more critical praise than its partner, however, mostly due to its tighter focus.

Dylan also received effusive praise for his liner notes on World Gone Wrong, the first he’d written in many years. He laid out his take on each of the songs in his trademark prose, reminding fans that he’s as interesting to read as to listen to.

Here’s how he described ‘Love Henry’:

LOVE HENRY is a “traditionalist” ballad. Tom Paley used to do it. a perverse tale. Henry — modern corporate man off some foreign boat, unable to handle his “psychosis” responsible for organizing the Intelligentsia, disarming the people, an infantile sensualist — white teeth, wide smile, lotza money, kowtow to fairy queen exploiters & corrupt religious establishments, career minded, limousine double parked, imposing his will & dishonest garbage in popular magazines. he lays his head on a pillow of down & falls asleep. he shoulda known better, he must’ve had a hearing problem.

1. “Get down, get down, Love Henry,” she cried.
“And stay all night with me.
I have gold chains, and the finest I have
I’ll apply them all to thee.”

2. “I can’t get down and I shan’t get down,
Or stay all night with thee.
Some pretty little girl in Cornersville
I love far better than thee.”

3. He layed his head on a pillow of down.
Kisses she gave him three.
With a penny knife that she held in her hand
She murdered mortal he.

Instrumental

4. “Get well, get well, Love Henry, ” She cried,
“Get well, get well,” said she.
“Oh don’t you see my own heart’s blood
Come flowin’ down so free?”

5. She took him by his long yellow hair,
And also by his feet.
She plunged him into well water, where
It runs both cold and deep.

6. “Lie there, lie there, Love Henry,” she cried,
“Til the flesh rots off your bones.
Some pretty little girl in Cornersville
Will mourn for your return.”

Instrumental

7. “Hush up, hush up, my parrot,” she cried,
“And light on my right knee.
The doors to your cage shall be decked with gold
And hung on a willow tree.”

9. “I won’t fly down, I can’t fly down
And light on your right knee.
A girl who would murder her own true love
Would kill a little birdlike me.”

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #734: ‘Love Henry’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Jeff says:

    Such a great tune. My ex girlfriend was mainly a fan of hip hop top 40 junk but amazingly, she loved this song.
    I must say this album and Good At I Been to You have affected my non-fingerstyle guitar playing more than any other albums by other artists. Bob has a cool way of bringing out a melody that most strummers simply are unable to do, or have ignored the possibility. This song certainly highlights these abilities as does Arthur McBride and Diamond Joe.

  2. Dana says:

    Hard to read Dylan prose without hearing his odd DJ style on his Sirius radio show.

    Anyway, another great cover. These last few posts on Dylan’s covers have made me long for more. I will definitely have to go through at some point and listen to the rest of these albums.

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