"High Water (For Charley Patton)" as written by and Bob Dylan....
High water risin', risin' night and day
All the gold and silver are being stolen away
Big Joe Turner lookin' East and West
From the dark room of his mind
He made it to Kansas City
Twelfth Street and Vine
Nothing standing there
High water everywhere

High water risin', the shacks are slidin' down
Folks lose their possessions and folks are leaving town
Bertha Mason shook, it broke it
Then she hung it on a wall
Says, "You're dancin' with whom they tell you to
Or you don't dance at all"
It's tough out there
High water everywhere

I got a cravin' love for blazing speed got a hopped up Mustang Ford
Jump into the wagon, love, throw your panties overboard
I can write you poems, make a strong man lose his mind
I'm no pig without a wig
I hope you treat me kind
Things are breakin' up out there
High water everywhere

High water risin', six inches 'bove my head
Coffins droppin' in the street
Like balloons made out of lead
Water pourin' into Vicksburg, don't know what I'm going to do
"Don't reach out for me," she said
"Can't you see I'm drownin' too?"
It's rough out there
High water everywhere

Well, George Lewis told the Englishman, the Italian and the Jew
"You can't open your mind, boys
To every conceivable point of view"
They got Charles Darwin trapped out there on Highway Five
Judge says to the High Sheriff
"I want him dead or alive
Either one, I don't care"
High Water everywhere

Well, the cuckoo is a pretty bird, she warbles as she flies
I'm preachin' the word of God
I'm puttin' out your eyes
I asked Fat Nancy for something to eat, she said, "Take it off the shelf
As great as you are a man,
You'll never be greater than yourself"
I told her I didn't really care
High water everywhere

I'm getting' up in the morning I believe I'll dust my broom
Keeping away from the women
I'm givin' 'em lots of room
Thunder rolling over Clarksdale, everything is looking blue
I just can't be happy, love
Unless you're happy too
It's bad out there
High water everywhere


Lyrics submitted by nitsirhc

"High Water (For Charley Patton)" as written by Bob Dylan

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High Water (For Charley Patton) song meanings
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    General CommentThis song is incredible, tied with "Mississippi" for the best song on "Love and Theft," and one of the best Bob's ever written. Anyway, the reason the song is titled "High Water (For Charley Patton)" is because the chorus, "high water everywhere," refers to the song of the same name by early Delta Blues musician Charley Patton. There are several other references to old Blues musicians and songs scattered throughout the album, including the line "I believe I'll dust my broom," a reference to the legendary Robert Johnson. It's quite genius how Bob uses these to create vivid images in the listener's head, and turn the song into something entirely new. As pointed out before, the "high water" is not a literal flood, but rather represents increasing trouble. It reminds me quite a bit of "Desolation Row," which featured a lot of metaphorical imagery and references to classic literature and culture. The verse featuring Charles Darwin in particular is similar to many of the lines in that song. In this case, the "Englishman, Italian, and the Jew" are warned not to "open their minds to any conceivable point of view." In other words, they should blindly accept what they are told without questioning it and opening the door to other possibilities. Charles Darwin was infamous in his day for questioning things and changing the idea of what we previously believed to be fact. This is why the "Judge" wants him dead or alive - he doesn't like change and will do anything it takes to stop it, even at the expense of the truth. Every verse in this song is filled with similar metaphors and strokes of genius, and I could spend hours writing an essay analyzing it, but you'd be better off just listening to it and enjoying it for yourself. I remember first hearing it, along with the rest of the album, with high expectations following the brilliant "Time Out of Mind," released four years later. This is the moment where I realized that album was no fluke. Bob was back, and I'm happy to say that, at the age of 70, he's as brilliant as he ever was.
    HyperBullyon July 21, 2011   Link

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