Song of the Day #777: ‘Santa Fe’ – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3 was the first box set I ever bought, and remains one of only two I own. I’ve always viewed box sets as extravagant purchases, the musical equivalent of buying a solid gold hat. Paying $50+ for something that won’t even fit on the shelf alongside your other CDs? No, thank you.

But the promise of this first set of bootleg recordings — 58 tracks spanning Dylan’s earliest days to his most recent — was too much to pass up. So I laid down my hard-earned cash and cradled that package like a newborn.

Nineteen years later, I can’t count the hours of enjoyment that resulted from that impulse buy. As AllMusic.com puts it in their review of the set, “every song here would qualify as the best song on anybody else’s album. And that’s no exaggeration.”

I particularly like the first and second discs, which cover outtakes and unreleased tracks from Dylan’s first decade or so of recording. There you’ll find many gems, both major and minor.

One of my very favorites is this track, ‘Santa Fe,’ an outtake from The Basement Tapes. It’s about as throwaway and low-fi a song as you can imagine but it makes me so damn happy.

Santa Fe, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear Santa Fe
My woman needs it ev’ryday
She promised this a-lad she’d stay
She’s rollin’ up a lotta bread to toss away

She’s in Santa Fe, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear Santa Fe
Now she’s opened up an old maid’s home
She’s proud, but she needs to roam
She’s gonna write herself a roadside poem about Santa Fe

Santa Fe, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear Santa Fe
Since I’m never gonna cease to roam
I’m never, ever far from home
But I’ll build a geodesic dome and sail away

Don’t feel bad, no, no, no, no, don’t feel bad
It’s the best food I’ve ever had
Makes me feel so glad
That she’s cooking in a homemade pad
She never caught a cold so bad when I’m away

Santa Fe, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear Santa Fe
My shrimp boat’s in the bay
I won’t have my nature this way
And I’m leanin’ on the wheel each day to drift away from

Santa Fe, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear Santa Fe
My sister looks good at home
She’s lickin’ on an ice cream cone
She’s packin’ her big white comb
What does it weigh?

10 thoughts on “Song of the Day #777: ‘Santa Fe’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Jo Morley says:

    I recommend some ear drops.

    Your “lyrics” are completely wrong.

    For example, where did you get “old maid’s home” from that track? “geodesic dome”???

    Appalling …

    • Mike says:

      Well, if you asked the Songwriter, he’d probably say “Hell Yeah! – So I used my Artistic Licence – And it’s not something you have to Pay for, or take a Test for – yet…”

  2. bokhara says:

    Yes these lyrics are completely wrong but come from Dylan’s official site or his official “Lyrics” book. Many unreleased and released Basement songs have completely different lyrics than what Dylan sang with the boys at Big Pink. Likely cause Grossman wanted to copyright these songs in late 60s/early 70s and Bob or someone else just filled in whatever to make them official. Bob was doing an awful lot of ad-libbing in the basement so he might not have even remembered the lyrics. Two other egregious examples are “Sign on the Cross” and “Going to Acapulco. A real shame with a masterpiece like Sign on the Cross that the sang lyrics were not preserved. Just take a look at them and then listen to the real song. Regarding Santa Fe, these lyrics from Olaf’s “dylanchords” site are much closer to what Bob might have sang:

    G
    Sante Fe,
    C D G
    dear dear dear dear dear Sante Fe
    C G
    My woman needs every day
    C G
    She promised to let me stay
    C G D
    She’s rollin’ up a knot to pray to gods away
    G
    She’s in Sante Fe
    C D G
    Dear dear dear dear dear Santa Fe.
    C G
    Now she opens up and lets me home
    C G
    She’s brown but she keeps from roam
    C G
    She’ll open up a happy home
    C D G
    She’ll think when will that be warm in Sante Fe.

    Sante Fe, dear dear dear dear Sante Fe
    She’s arms never teach to roam
    They’re never never far from home
    I’ll never ever ever roam
    To sail away
    She’s all feel bad
    No no no no don’t don’t don’t feel bad
    She’s the worst thing he’s ever had
    She’s a mad, man that he’s so glad
    She’s over above the hat to bad
    She’s never disappear so bad
    I went away.

    Sante Fe, dear dear dear dear dear dear Sante Fe
    My own heart city lay
    I won’t have a nature way
    And I’m leavin’ every day to run away
    From Sante Fe, dear dear dear dear dear Sante Fe.
    My woman’s left sittin’ at home
    She’s actin’ the police unknown
    She cried like an evening stone
    She leap back under a broom
    But she ain’t gonna find a room
    And the tears send her on own ever day.

  3. Clay says:

    Yes, I’ve used the “official” lyrics from Dylan’s website for all of these songs, though they are often different from what he sings on record (today’s song being the most obvious example so far).

    Thanks, bokhara, for offering up the lyrics on the recorded version.

  4. Dana says:

    Good song, though perhaps just a bit too low-fi for repeated listening for me.

  5. George says:

    I have always loved this song. I heard a bit of it in the 70’s from The Great White Wonder and it stuck in my head for 30 odd years. I just love it and really don’t know why.

  6. John says:

    I would agree… this has always been one of my favorite songs off this Bootleg set. Whatever the lyrics might be, haha!

  7. Penny says:

    Oh, I think this is a wonderful song, I’m so glad to see it featured here. I’ve listened to it over and over. Don’t care what the lyrics are! It’s just such a joyous sound!

  8. garrick says:

    Speaking as a Santa Fe resident and as someone – like the rest of you – who’s got 50+ Dylan booklegs, outtakes, radio tapes, etc. I have listened to this song – for the lyrics – over and over and over and I still can’t make ’em out. All the stuff in the comments written above is close for sure. A musicologist I played it for told me, “The words? Easy….it’s ‘Sanna Fe, Sanna Fe..La, La, La, La La, Sanna Fe……Jus’ put in any words that rhyme…..Ones that keep the beat and time….Oh that’s the way….they do it down in Sanna Fe……Sanna Fe, Sanna Fe, La, La, La, La La….Sanna Fe.

  9. kevin cramsey says:

    Commentors are right on — this song is about as throwaway as one gets, and maybe that’s why it’s so much fun. For more on the background of these sessions, there’s a great book by Sid Griffin which goes song by song for all Basement sessions. Garth Hudson provides some much-needed historial accuracy. Dylan, of course, declined to be interviewed. If I recall correctly, “Santa Fe” is one of the most obscure of all songs, which no one apparently able to remember even cutting it. At least no one who is alive or willing to talk. Makes it all the more fun to me.

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