Song of the Day #4,517: ‘Song For Bob Dylan’ – David Bowie

‘Song For Bob Dylan’ is a track on David Bowie’s excellent 1971 album Hunky Dory. It’s something between a tribute and a jab at Dylan, one of the biggest music stars in the world at that time.

Dylan was checking out in the early 70s. After producing a string of classic, groundbreaking albums in the 60s, he was releasing gentle country albums Nashville Skyline and New Morning, along with Self Portrait, a collection of odds and ends that was easily his worst work to date.

Bowie used this song as a response to that lull in Dylan’s output. As he told Melody Maker at the time:

“There’s even a song – Song for Bob Dylan – that laid out what I wanted to do in rock. It was at that period that I said, ‘okay (Dylan) if you don’t want to do it, I will.’ I saw that leadership void. Even though the song isn’t one of the most important on the album, it represented for me what the album was all about. If there wasn’t someone who was going to use rock ‘n’ roll, then I’d do it.”

[Verse 1]
Oh, hear this Robert Zimmerman
I wrote a song for you
About a strange young man called Dylan
With a voice like sand and glue
His words of truthful vengeance
They could pin us to the floor
Brought a few more people on
And put the fear in a whole lot more

[Chorus]
Ah, here she comes, here she comes
Here she comes again
The same old painted lady
From the brow of a superbrain
She’ll scratch this world to pieces
As she comes on like a friend
But a couple of songs from your old scrapbook
Could send her home again

[Verse 2]
You gave your heart to every bedsit room
At least a picture on my wall
And you sat behind a million pair of eyes
And told them how they saw
Then we lost your train of thought
The paintings are all your own
While troubles are rising, we’d rather be scared
Together than alone

[Chorus]
Ah, here she comes, here she comes
Here she comes again
The same old painted lady
From the brow of a superbrain
She’ll scratch this world to pieces
As she comes on like a friend
But a couple of songs from your old scrapbook
Could send her home again

{Instrumental Bridge}

[Verse 3]
Now hear this Robert Zimmerman
Though I don’t suppose we’ll meet
Ask your good friend Dylan
If he’d gaze a while down the old street
Tell him we’ve lost his poems
So we’re writing on the walls
Give us back our unity
And give us back our family
You’re every nation’s refugee
Don’t leave us with their sanity

[Chorus]
Ah, here she comes, here she comes
Here she comes again
The same old painted lady
From the brow of a superbrain
She’ll scratch this world to pieces
As she comes on like a friend
But a couple of songs from your old scrapbook
Could send her home again

Ah, a couple of songs from your old scrapbook
Could send her home again
Oh, here she comes, ooh, here she comes
Oh, here she comes, ooh

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,517: ‘Song For Bob Dylan’ – David Bowie

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I’ve never heard or heard of this song. Rather fascinating.

  2. Peg says:

    I agree it’s fascinating. He sounds a lot like Dylan too

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