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|Song by Bob Dylan|
|from the album Highway 61 Revisited|
|Released||August 30, 1965|
|Recorded||July 29, 1965|
|Studio||Columbia Studios, New York|
|Highway 61 Revisited track listing|
"Tombstone Blues" is the second track of Bob Dylan's 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited. Musically it is influenced by the blues, while the lyrics are typical of Dylan's surreal style of the period, with such lines as "the sun's not yellow, it's chicken".
The song was performed by Marcus Carl Franklin and Richie Havens in I'm Not There, the film based on Dylan's life. The soundtrack version is performed solely by Havens. Two lines from the song, spoken by the "Commander in Chief" – "Death to all those who would whimper and cry" and "The sun's not yellow; it's chicken" – are spoken by a digitally manipulated Lyndon B. Johnson in another scene in the film.
Sheryl Crow performed the song on her live album Sheryl Crow and Friends: Live from Central Park alongside Eric Clapton, Chrissie Hynde, Keith Richards, Stevie Nicks, Sarah McLachlan, and the Dixie Chicks.
- "Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
- That could hold you dear lady from going insane
- That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
- Of your useless and pointless knowledge".
And again quotes from the song with the line:
- "you will not die, it's not poison"
in chapter eleven of the novel Gerald's Game.
The lyrics fit the surreal style of the era, while being scathing of society and authority. The song contains several direct and indirect allusions to biblical characters as well as historical references. For instance to John the Baptist, to which Dylan dedicates four lines:
- "John the Baptist after torturing a thief
- Looks up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief
- Saying, “Tell me great hero, but please make it brief
- Is there a hole for me to get sick in?”".