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Bob was Like A Rolling Stone.

Mr. Tambourine Man was calling him to the road.

So he made a Restless Farewell to family and friends.

Farewell, Angelina, he said.

He knew he would miss this Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowland.

But he had Stayed in Mississippi Way Too Long.

He wanted Trouble No More.

He just needed Shelter from the Storm.

He told her goodbye, and I’ll Remember You.

He offered to send her some Boots of Spanish Leather, from a place he knew in Ensenada.

She said she would just settle for his Basement Tapes and took them in return for any perceived obligation. Then there would be a New Morning. The Charleston Girl would be gone.

So he left in a van with Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.

They left Under A Red Sky.

Gotta Serve Somebody, they told themselves, and it might as well be us.

So Ring Them Bells.

But soon they were all Tangled Up in Blue.

She lied and he told her point blank: I Don’t Believe You.

And you also look silly, he told Lily, in that Leopardskin Pillbox Hat.

But she made an angry retort: Go Away From My Window then.

She made it final about his aspirations: It Ain’t Me Babe.

Well, Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, he said and left quickly on his Harley

It felt like a Motor-psycho Nightmare as he sped off into the night.

It felt devastating. It was Talking World War III Blues.

Here he was flying down the famous blues road. Highway 61.

Then he decided to veer west. Goin’ To Acapulco, he said.

Only to be stopped at the border. The guard addressed him suspiciously as … Senor.

We’ve been watching you All Along the Watchtower.

They searched his saddlebags and poured out Every Grain of Sand.

Felt like he might be Cold Irons Bound.

He told them he wasn’t John Wesley Harding or anything like that.

They told him he had nevertheless looked like a Wicked Messenger.

And advised him not to be  a Jokerman and they might let him pass.

They then noted that Blind Willie McTeal could have seen that weed they had themselves planted there.

It’s All Right, Ma, I’m Only Crying, he told himself silently.

But the officers said a bust would be strictly Maggie’s Farm stuff and they weren’t working there any more.

They said: Baby, Let Me Follow You Down — to your pockets to get a tip for these fine border guards who serve you so well.

I’m not The Mighty Quinn, he said, but here’s all the cash I’ve got, and he dispensed it and quickly left.

It all slowed him down, but not like the time he was Stuck in Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.

But the Idiot Wind that had blown him there had blown him right back out again.

The Changing of the Guard could always be expected in life.

Tomorrow is a Long Time

Full of Visions of Dreams.

And the ultimate goal is to Get to Heaven Before They Close the Door.

The Chimes of Freedom would then be truly flashing.

And the Masters of War will be no more.

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall on them.

He laughed now at his previous confusions and proclaimed: It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.

He knew he would be Forever Young in his new life.

As I Walked Out This Morning, he began to write, and poetry flowed.

He was Watching the River Flow, and it was his words.

Joyous, because he knew that his Girl of the North Country was coming down today.

She’s An Artist, she don’t look back, he reminded himself. But Just Like A Woman, she appeals to me.

He told her on the phone: Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.

He asked her, jokingly: Will you Lay, Lady, Lay.

She said sure, but he needed to help her first with her Subterranean Homesick Blues. A water pipe broke in the basement.

The plumbers are on the way but it’s like a Slow Train Coming.

Be patient, he advised: It Takes A Lot to Laugh; It Takes A Train to Cry.

She told him there are no milk trains any more, and that was nonsensical, but … Baby, You’ve Been On My Mind.

He replied: I don’t need any Rainy Day Women, just you.

Be there soon, she cooed, and when I get there, I Shall Be Released  

I got some stuff, he said, that will make you think you’re Blowing in the Wind.

And kinda like Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.

So she flew down there, and then it came, A Simple Twist of Fate.

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, her aunt, and she wanted to leave after three days.

It was just a temporary matter of Tombstone Blues, she said.

But at the time it felt like Seven Curses to him.

He knew he had to be generous, however, and not apply a Foot of Pride.

And so when he asked: What Was That You Wanted, she said she wanted to be at the funeral. OK, then.

I Want You, he said … to go and pay your respects.  

All I Really Want To Do, he said, is for you to be happy.

And soon she returned, proving the worth of his eternal axiom: Love Minus Zero/No Limits.

When I Paint My Masterpiece, he vowed, and When the Ship Comes In, I will remember her and dedicate it … To Ramona.

I Shall Be Free then, even though The Times They Are A’Changing.

I may sing my Ballad in Plain D for One Too Many Mornings, even revealing My Back Pages, but the North Country Blues will be gone.

I may only be A Pawn in Their Game.

But I’ll Be Your Baby tonight.

Everybody must get stoned.


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© Jim Cleveland 2017

Jim Cleveland