Absolutely Sweet Marie
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|"Absolutely Sweet Marie"|
|Song by Bob Dylan from the album Blonde on Blonde|
|Released||May 16, 1966|
|Recorded||March 8, 1966|
|Blonde on Blonde track listing|
Song and background
During a 1991 interview published in Paul Zollo's book Songwriters on Songwriting, Expanded Fourth Edition (New York: Da Capo Press, 1997), Dylan gives an idea of how he sees the song in his explanation of a line about a "yellow railroad":
- That's about as complete as you can be. Every single letter in that line. It's all true. On a literal and on an escapist level.... Getting back to the yellow railroad, that could be from looking someplace. Being a performer, you travel the world. You're not just looking out of the same window everyday. You're not just walking down the same old street. So you must make yourself observe whatever. But most of the time it hits you. You don't have to observe. It hits you. Like, "yellow railroad" could have been a blinding day when the sun was so bright on a railroad someplace and it stayed on my mind.... These aren't contrived images. These are images which are just in there and have got to come out.
Dylan did not perform "Sweet Marie" live until 1988, and has intermittently played it since, including during a session for his MTV Unplugged appearance.
"To live outside the law you must be honest"
The song contains the phrase "To live outside the law you must be honest". Jonathan Lethem points to a very similar line by the screenwriter Stirling Silliphant in the 1958 film The Lineup: "When you live outside the law, you have to eliminate dishonesty" and that Dylan "heard it…, cleaned it up a little, and inserted it into" this song. In 1940s, in notes on his lyrics page for "Pretty Boy Floyd," Woody Guthrie wrote: "I love a good man outside the law, just as much as I hate a bad man inside the law." Dylan, who in some ways, wore the Guthrie mantle, may have been honoring his predecessor.
The saying "honour amongst thieves" is an old proverb that dates back many centuries.
- C. J. Chenier: Blues on Blonde on Blonde (2003)
- Ducks Deluxe: Side Tracks & Smokers (2010)
- The Everly Brothers: Picks And Pens (ep) (1986)
- Flamin' Groovies: Jumpin' in the Night (1979)
- Les Fradkin: If Your Memory Serves You Well (2006)
- Benjamin Gibbard and Jay Farrar: One Fast Move or I'm Gone (2009)
- Steve Gibbons: The Dylan Project (1998); Live At Cropredy Festival (1999)
- George Harrison: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (1993)
- Jason & the Scorchers: Fervor (1984); Midnight Roads and Stages Seen (1998); Wildfires & Misfits: Two Decades of Outtakes & Rarities (2002)
- Kokomo (New Zealand band): In The Well (2008)
- Rich Lerner: Cover Down (2000)
- Ola Magnell: Gaia (1983)
- David Nelson Band: Visions Under the Moon (1999)
- Wolfgang Niedecken: Leopardefell (1995)
- Ernst Schultz: Dylan : Deutsch - Es ändern sich die Zeiten (2008)
- Robin Williamson: Just Like The River And Other Songs For Guitar (2008)
- Jonathan Lethem, "The Ecstasy of Influence", Harper's, February 2007, 59–71. p. 59.
- Campbell, Al. "Blues on Blonde on Blonde". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Ducks Deluxe: Side Tracks & Smokers". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
- Deming, Mark. "The Flamin' Groovies: Jumpin' in the Night". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
- Chadbourne, Eugene. "Rich Lerner & the Groove: Cover Down". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
- "Ola Magnell: Gaia". Ola Magnell Website. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
- "David Nelson Band: Visions Under the Moon". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
- "Robin Williamson: Just Like the River and Other Songs for Guitar". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-04-03.