Bob Dylan I – Nobel Laureate

In case you missed it, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature Thursday. It was a first for a singer/songwriter so there has been some criticism of the Nobel judges for their choice.

I’ve seen Dylan in concert half a dozen times and I think, given this momentous award, I will post a few times over the next few weeks to share some of those memories.

Today though, something a little different. As I was leaving the house for a meeting yesterday I heard a radio announcer say he was going to have the audience call in with the name of their favourite Dylan song. I presume his plan was to record people explaining why a particular tune was a special to them, then play that on air with the song.

I didn’t get a chance to call in and it wouldn’t have made any difference. Dylan has never officially recorded the song of his that I like best. Maybe he made a studio recording at some point, but if so it has never surfaced in official or bootleg form. You can find it online though, fan recordings from the 46 times he played it on his 1980 tour. If you are a Dylan fan you know about that tour. People walked out of the show each night because Dylan wasn’t playing the hits they wanted. He was playing new material and talking about a new focus in his life.

I first heard “Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody” on April 22, 1980 at Theatre Saint Denis in Montreal. Back in those pre-Internet days you didn’t know what a musician had played the night before – set lists were not posted online because there was no online. So I didn’t know in advance that Dylan had premiered this song five days previously.

I did know when I first heard it that it was special. The master lyricist, who had recently become a Christian, was making a statement of faith. He was acknowledging his way with words, and declaring that he was going to use that God-given talent in a new way. He was rejecting the idea of using his talent to manipulate others.

If you’re trying to follow along, the lyrics below don’t match the video clip. The song, like many Dylan songs, was still evolving. I didn’t have time to look for a version online that matched what you hear here if you scroll down – which was recorded two days before I first heard it (I saw three shows in a row that week).

So why not take a listen to a Bob Dylan song you have probably never heard before, one of his best.

 

Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody

I can manipulate people as well as anybody

Force ’em and burn ’em, twist ’em and turn ’em

I can make believe I’m in love with almost anybody

Hold ’em and control ’em, squeeze ’em and tease ’em

All that satisfies the fleshy needs

I’ve been down that road, I know what it needs.

 

But I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

Not today, not tonight, not tomorrow, no never, no way!

 

I can persuade people as well as anybody

I got the vision but it caused division

I can twist the truth as well as anybody

I know how to do it, I’ve been all the way through it

But it don’t suit my purpose and it ain’t my goal

To gain the whole world, but give up my soul.

 

But I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

Not for father, not for mother, not for sister, not for father, no way!

 

I can twist the truth around as well as anybody

Wine ’em and dine ’em, fool ’em and rule ’em

I can rob and steal from people as well as anybody

I know how to do it

But it don’t suit my purpose and it ain’t my goal

To gain the whole world but give up my soul.

 

But I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

Not for father, not for mother, not for sister, not for father, no way!

 

Smoke arises forever, on a one-way ticket to burn

A place reserved for the devil

And for all those that done evil

A place of darkness and shame, you can never return.

 

I can influence people as well as anybody

I can cause division, can cause division

I can mislead people as well as anybody

Burn ’em and roll ’em, rob ’em and hold ’em

Won’t get my story in tricks or cards

I can see through man’s delusions, I can see through his facades.

 

But I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

Not today, not tonight, not tomorrow, no never, no way!

 

I can write and steal from people as well as anybody

Know all the devices, paid a lot of prices

I can influence people as well as anybody

Go right up to ’em, I know how to do ’em

Don’t need to depend on tricks or on cards

I can see through man’s delusions, I can see through his facades

 

But I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody

Not today, not tonight, not tomorrow, no never, no way!

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