A song by Bob Dylan, originally released on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume II in 1971, and later released in a substantially different version on Basement Tapes in 1975. Judging from other sources on the internet, most people do not seem to be aware that the Greatest Hits version is different from the Basement Tapes version, and even less are aware that it has largely different lyrics. To complicate matters, the song has also been released on The Essential Bob Dylan and Ultimate Collection - the "Essential" version is probably the same as on Greatest Hits II.

A third, extremely peculiar version of the song was recorded by Dylan with The Band providing backing vocals as well as instrumentals. While it is not officially commercially available, it originates from the same "basement tapes" as the official Basement Tapes release, and along with many other recordings from that period, it has been copied and passed around for years. It can be found on a four-disc bootleg set called "A Tree With Roots" compiled from the best-quality fan-collected duplicates of the basement tapes as well as remastered recordings. A Tree With Roots was released several times by various groups in 2001 and 2002, though most editions were produced in small quantities.
one Reagen Ward brought this to my attention, clearing up years of wondering. thank you, fine sir.

Joan Baez, The Byrds, and several other artists have covered this song. The Byrds originally released it on Sweetheart Of The Rodeo in 1968, and Baez originally released it on Any Day Now, also in 1968 - all with songwriting credit to Dylan, and all before Dylan ever officially released the song, though the two basement tapes versions were probably recorded in '67.
If anyone knows those artists well enough to point out what involvement they might have with the lyrics and the changes made to them, I'd like to know; I'm especially interested in the Byrds' version, because of the possible reference to Roger McGuinn in the Greatest Hits version. kto9 tells me that the title is supposedly a reference to Dylan's inactivity after his 1966 motorcycle accident - in that case, if McGuinn was around while Dylan was immobile, recuperating, and writing this song, then The Byrds' 1968 cover of it and the reference to McGuinn in Dylan's 1971 version would make a lot of sense.


According to the liner notes, this version, released on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume II, was recorded in October 1971 (along with versions of I Shall Be Released and Down In The Flood, also on the album - which both had alternate versions released on Bootleg Series and Basement Tapes, respectively) with Happy Traum on bass, banjo, second guitar and vocal harmony. Happy seems to just be plunkin' on the banjo and singing along on this track, though it sounds like there's some kind of light percussion in the background - it might be one of their feet tapping. It's a really pleasant song, Traum's cheery harmonization does a lot for it.

Lyrics:


Clouds so swift and rain fallin' in
Gonna see a movie called Gunga Din
Pack up your money, pull up your tent, McGuinn
You ain't a-goin' nowhere

Ooh-wee, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day that my bride's a-gonna come
Ooh-wee, a-we gonna fly
Down into the easy chair

(harmonica)

Genghis Khan and his brother Don
Couldn't keep on keepin' on
We'll climb that bridge after it's gone
After we're way past it

Ooh-wee, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day my bride's a-gonna come
Ooh-wee, a-we gonna fly
Down into the easy chair, yeah

(harmonica)

Buy me some rings and a gun that sings
A flute that toots and a bee that stings
A sky that cries and a bird that flies
A fish that walks and a dog that talks

Ooh-wee, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day my bride's a-gonna come
Ooh-wee, a-we gonna fly
Down into the easy chair

(harmonica)

Ooh-wee, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day my bride's a-gonna come
Ooh-wee, a-we gonna fly
Down into the easy chair

(harmonica, fade out)



Here's the Basement Tapes version, featuring The Band. These lyrics are as transcribed by my friend Chloe, and they sound accurate to me. Personally, I prefer the other version - this one has a lot more to it, with a larger ensemble performing the music, but it loses that casual, folky feel. It's also a lot slower, to go with the more somber cast to the lyrics, and so it's really not much fun to sing along with. Without the endearing qualities of the banjo, the song becomes a lot less distinctive... and I like Dylan's harmonica bridges, absent from this version. It's funny- despite all the changes in tone, tempo, and wording, all three versions of the song clock in at right about 2:45.

Lyrics:


Clouds so swift
Rain won't lift
Gate won't close
Railings froze
Get your mind off wintertime
You ain't goin' nowhere

Whoo-ee, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day
My bride's gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair

I don't care how many letters they sent
Morning came and morning went
Pick up your money and pack up your tent
You ain't going nowhere

Whoo-ee, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day
My bride's gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair

Buy me a flute and a gun that shoots
Tailgates and substitutes
Strap yourself to the tree with roots
You ain't goin' nowhere

Whoo-ee, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day
My bride's gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down to the easy chair

Genghis Khan, he could not keep
All his kings supplied with sleep
We'll climb that hill no matter how steep
When we come up to it

Whoo-ee, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day
My bride's gonna come
Oh, oh, we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair



And here's the unofficially released basement tapes version. The lyrics seem to cross the boundary between apparant symbolism and total nonsense. The delivery is disconcerting - it's spoken rather than sung, and Dylan sounds like he's not all there in terms of concentration. It's possible he made up the lyrics as he went along, which would be impressive. They're actually pretty funny, if you don't find it all unsettlingness, and there are some phrases in there which make great insults.

Lyrics:

Now look here, dear Sue
You'd best feed the cats
The cats need feeding
You're the one to do it
Get your hat
Feed the cats
You ain't goin' nowhere

Oh, oh, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day my bride's gonna come
Ooh-wee, a-we gonna sit
Down in the easy chair

Look here, you bunch of basement noise
You ain't no punchin' bag
I seen you walkin' out there
And you're the one to do it
Pick up your nose, you penny eye
You ain't goin' nowhere

Ooh-wee, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day my bride's gonna come
Ooh-wee, a-we gonna sit
Down in the easy chair

Just pick up that oilcloth
Cram it in the corn
I don't care if your name is Michael
You're gonna need some boards
Get your lunch
You foreign bib
You ain't goin' nowhere

Ooh-wee, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day my bride's gonna come
Ooh-wee, a-we gonna sit
Down in the easy chair

Now look here, you pile of money
You best go better find a file
I seen you out there beatin' on your hammer
You ain't no head a' lettuce
Feed that buzzard
Lay him on the rug
You ain't goin' nowhere

Oh, oh, ride me high
Tomorrow's the day my bride's gonna come
Ooh-wee, a-we gonna sit
Down in the easy chair

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