Song of the Day #3,592: ‘Sign On the Cross’ – Bob Dylan & The Band

Of all the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series releases, volume 11 (The Basement Tapes Complete) is definitely the most impressive.

Spanning six discs and 138 tracks, this volume contains all of the unreleased tracks recorded by Dylan and The Band in the basement of a house called Big Pink between May and October of 1967.

Dylan released a 2-disc album (The Basement Tapes) in 1975 containing two dozen songs, and others have trickled out on various releases through the years, but this massive box set delivers the whole shebang.

It delivers it at over $100, however, so I don’t own it. I love Dylan, but I’m also cheap. And this release isn’t available on streaming services.

What I do own is the 2-disc abridged version, containing 38 of the best tracks from the full set. And given that the 6-disc collection contains a lot of alternate takes of the same songs, I think that might be the best way to go anyway.

Today’s SOTD is one of the niftier offerings on the album. It’s a lazy, partly improvised gospel track featuring a beautifully evocative vocal by Dylan.

Now, I try, oh for so awf’ly long
And I just try to be
And now, oh it’s a gold mine
But it’s so fine
Yes, but I know in my head
That we’re all so misled
And it’s that ol’ sign on the cross
That worries me

Now, when I was just a bawlin’ child
I saw what I wanted to be
And it’s all for the sake
Of that picture I should see
But I was lost on the moon
As I heard that front door slam
And that old sign on the cross
Still worries me

Well, it’s that old sign on the cross
Well, it’s that old key to the kingdom
Well, it’s that old sign on the cross
Like you used to be
But, when I hold my head so high
As I see my ol’ friends go by
And it’s still that sign on the cross
That worries me

Well, it seem to be the sign on the cross. Ev’ry day,
ev’ry night, see the sign on the cross just layin’ up
on top of the hill. Yes, we thought it might have
disappeared long ago, but I’m here to tell you, friends,
that I’m afraid it’s lyin’ there still. Yes, just a
little time is all you need, you might say, but I don’t
know ’bout that any more, because the bird is here and
you might want to enter it, but, of course, the door might
be closed. But I just would like to tell you one time,
if I don’t see you again, that the thing is, that the sign
on the cross is the thing you might need the most.

Yes, the sign on the cross
Is just a sign on the cross
Well, there is some on every chisel
And there is some in the championship, too
Oh, when your, when your days are numbered
And your nights are long
You might think you’re weak
But I mean to say you’re strong
Yes you are, if that sign on the cross
If it begins to worry you
Well, that’s all right because sing a song
And all your troubles will pass right on through

One thought on “Song of the Day #3,592: ‘Sign On the Cross’ – Bob Dylan & The Band

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Wow, I thought these bootleg albums were out of control without knowing about this 6 disc set. There is simply no artist on this planet for whom I would have the interest or patience to listen to that much material.

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