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#SLS — “Absolutely Sweet Marie,” by George Harrison

Jim Adams is the name-promoting host of Song Lyric Sunday.  Jim also was kind enough to find a song he knew I would like to meet the prompt as it involves two of my favorite musical artists.  Jim says:
This week we have feminine name prompts of Maria/Marie/Mary and hopefully this will fit for everyone.

Here are the “rules”:
• Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not. If it does not fit, then please explain why you chose this song.
• Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
• Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
• Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
• Ping back to this post or place your link in the comments section below.
• Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
• Feel free to suggest future prompts.
• Have fun and enjoy the music.

George Harrison
George Harrison


I have both, “Blonde on Blonde” and “The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration” albums and so am very familiar with both versions of this hella good song.

Absolutely Sweet Marie” is a song written by Bob Dylan, released on his 1966 double album Blonde on Blonde.  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.

Absolutely Sweet Marie” was recorded on March 8, 1966, in Nashville, Tennessee. Only two complete takes of the song were recorded. The first take was released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966 in 2015.

Dylan did not perform “Absolutely Sweet Marie” live until 1988, and has intermittently played it since.

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“; without attribution, Lethem imagines that Dylan, “heard it…, cleaned it up a little, and inserted it into” this song.

In the 1940s, in notes on his lyrics page for the song “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 has acknowledged being heavily influenced by Guthrie, may have been honoring his predecessor.

George Harrison covered the song at The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration.

per wikipedia:
The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration is a live double-album release in recognition of Bob Dylan’s 30 years as a recording artist. Recorded on October 16, 1992, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, it captures most of the concert, which featured many artists performing classic Dylan songs, before ending with three songs from Dylan himself.

The house band for the show were the surviving members of Booker T. and the MG’s: Booker T. Jones on organ, Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass, and Steve Cropper on guitar. Joining them was drummer Anton Fig filling in for the late Al Jackson, plus drummer Jim Keltner. Longtime Saturday Night Live bandleader G. E. Smith served as the musical director. I would encourage you to go to wikipedia and see the mind-boggling list of musicians involved in the production of the album.

The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration, which reached #40 in the US and went gold,was released in August 1993 just before Dylan was about to deliver his second folk studio set inside of a year, World Gone Wrong. The concert was dubbed “Bobfest” by Neil Young at the beginning of his “All Along the Watchtower” cover.

A VHS collection of the same name was released on August 25, 1993. On March 4, 2014, the concert was released in Deluxe Edition 2-DVD and Blu-ray sets with bonus performances and behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage, as well as a 2-CD set with two bonus rehearsal tracks.



Well, your railroad gate
You know I just can’t jump it
Sometimes it gets so hard, you see
I’m just sitting here beating on my trumpet
With all these promises you left for me
But where are you tonight, sweet Marie?

Well, I waited for you when I was half sick
Yes, I waited for you when you hated me
Well, I waited for you inside of the frozen traffic
When you knew I had some other place to be
Now, where are you tonight, sweet Marie?

Well, anybody can be just like me, obviously
But then, now again, not too many can be like you, fortunately

Well, six white horses that you did promise
Were fin’lly delivered down to the penitentiary
But to live outside the law, you must be honest
I know you always say that you agree
Alright so where are you tonight, sweet Marie?

Well, I don’t know how it happened, but the
Riverboat captain, he knows my fate
But ev’rybody else, even yourself
They’re just gonna have to wait

Well, I got the fever down in my pockets
The Persian drunkard, he follows me
Yes, I can take him to your house but I can’t unlock it
You see, you forgot to leave me with the key
Oh, where are you tonight, sweet Marie?

Well now, I been in jail when all my mail showed
That a man can’t give his address out to bad company
And now I stand here lookin’ at your yellow railroad
In the ruins of your balcony
Wond’ring where you are tonight, sweet Marie
Songwriters: Bob Dylan

34 thoughts on “#SLS — “Absolutely Sweet Marie,” by George Harrison

    1. Kerfe, you should do Song Lyric Sunday. We get the prompts from Jim on Saturday night at 10pm, and he always gives a list of the next month’s weekly prompts in his post. You have good taste in music!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think someone already mentioned the Bob Dyland version this week but it is wonderful to hear Harrison’s version. I can admit that Harrison isn’t my favorite Beatle but his version is great.

    Liked by 1 person

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