Song of the Day #4,360: ‘Jack-a-Roe’ – Bob Dylan

My #7 album of 1993 is Bob Dylan’s World Gone Wrong, the second of back-to-back albums featuring covers of classic folk and blues songs.

This album, and its predecessor Good As I Been To You, fulfilled a recording contract Dylan had signed five years earlier and can reasonably be looked at as a low-effort way of meeting that obligation. But the entirely acoustic recordings feature some wonderful performances. World Gone Wrong even won a Grammy, for Best Traditional Folk Album.

World Gone Wrong is the tighter album, running three songs and 12 minutes shorter than Good As I Been To You. After catching some flack for not crediting the original arrangers on the first album, Dylan provided extensive liner notes on this record, tracing his versions back to their origins and providing lots of interesting color.

These early 90s releases were the first Bob Dylan albums I bought upon their release, after I spent my teenage years obsessing over his 60s and 70s work. They will always have a special place in my heart for that reason.

At the time, they felt like a summation of his career, a full-circle return to the folk covers he played as a young man. Little did I know that in a few years he would release the first of a trio of original albums as good as anything in his catalog.

Oh, there was a wealthy merchant, in London he did dwell
He had a lovely daughter, the truth to you I’ll tell
Oh, the truth to you I’ll tell

She had sweethearts a-plenty and men of high degree
There was none but Jackie Frazier, her true love e’er to be
Oh, her true love e’er to be

“Oh daughter, oh daughter, your body I will confine
If none but Jack the sailor would ever suit your mind
Oh, would ever suit your mind

“This body you may imprison, my heart you can’t confine
There’s none but Jack the sailor would have this heart of mine
Oh, would have this heart of mine

Now Jackie’s gone sailing with trouble on his mind
To leave his native country and his darling girl behind
Oh, his darling girl behind

She went into the tailor shop and dressed in men’s array
Then she went into the vessel to convey herself away
Oh, convey herself away

“Before you step onboard, sir, your name I’d like to know.”
She smiled all in her countenance, said, “They call me Jack-A-Roe
Oh, they call me Jack-A-Roe.”

“Your waist is light and slender, your fingers neat and small
Your cheeks too red and rosy for to face the cannonball
Oh, to face the cannonball

“I know my waist is slender and my fingers they are small
But they would not make me tremble for to see ten thousand fall
Oh, to see ten thousand fall.”

The war soon being over, they hunted all around
Among the dead and dying her darling love she found
Oh, her darling love she found

She picked him up all in her arms and carries him to town
And sent for her physician to quickly heal his wounds
Oh, to quickly heal his wounds

This couple, they got married, so well they did agree
This couple they got married, so why not you and me
Oh, so why not you and me

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,360: ‘Jack-a-Roe’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Dylan sounds in decent form here, but I will always favor originals over covers and his work in the 60’s and 70’s over anything he did since.

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