MAMA, YOU BEEN ON MY MIND

Perhaps it's the color of the sun cut flat
An' cov'rin' the crossroads I'm standing at,
Or maybe it's the weather or something like that,
But mama, you been on my mind.
I don't mean trouble, please don't put me down or get upset,
I am not pleadin' or sayin', "I can't forget."
I do not walk the floor bowed down an' bent, but yet,
Mama, you been on my mind.
Even though my mind is hazy an' my thoughts they might be narrow,
Where you been don't bother me nor bring me down in sorrow.
It don't even matter to me where you're wakin' up tomorrow,
But mama, you're just on my mind.
I am not askin' you to say words like "yes" or "no,"
Please understand me, I got no place for you t' go.
I'm just breathin' to myself, pretendin' not that I don't know,
Mama, you been on my mind.
When you wake up in the mornin', baby, look inside your mirror.
You know I won't be next to you, you know I won't be near.
I'd just be curious to know if you can see yourself as clear
As someone who has had you on his mind.

-Bob Dylan, Bootleg Series (1-3) 1991


The first time I heard this song, I was listening to a Bob Dylan tape my fanatical-friend had made me, with excerpts from a good-quality bootleg of a recent concert. It was around 1 in the morning, and I was fairly tired, so perhaps that had something to do with it. When the intro to this song started up, I just had to stop what I was doing and listen. It was, at the time, the most beautiful tune I had ever heard. The combination of the guitar and the harmonica seemed to say things no words ever could. That's another reason I love this song so much: I fell in love with it before I heard the lyrics, which I was soon to fall in love with anyway. Doubly loved, if you like.

Anyway, just as the two beats of the drum marked the entrance into the lyrics, the tape ran out, and everything screeched to a halt. I couldn't believe my tape-making "friend" would do such a thing to me. The first thing I did the next day was go down to his house and have a few words with him about his insensitivity towards me, leading me on like that and all the other bad stuff he had done. He said that he was just laying the beautiful intro there to fill the space, that he would put the song in full on his next compila, and that he was really very sorry. I forgave him with time.

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