Episode 20. “I Want You.” Blonde on Blonde. Budokan. Completely Unplugged. Cutting Edge. Bunker. New microphones. July 13, 2017. Outburst Citrus and Portland IPA.
“I Want You” was recorded on March 10, 1966 (from three am to seven am) and was the last song recorded for Blonde on Blonde. Al Kooper noted, “
The song proved to be Kooper’s favorite song of the session and believes Dylan played it last just to bug him. And because Kooper knew the song, he was able to teach it to the musicians beforehand (which is a rarity in a Dylan studio session). In 1978, Dylan reflected on the record:
Before they delved into the song, Kelly let Daniel in on the secrets of the chambermaids (6:30): Admonishing Daniel, Kelly explains that a “maid” is someone that cleans and a “chamber” means room. Daniel thought only of chamber pots and prostitutes, which could apply, as a bathroom is a room and sex work is a thing. The first appearance of a chambermaid is in 1548 but it’s really quite simple. Kelly delved into “lady in waiting,” part of a royal court, confidante of the queen, someone who would take care of her. She could also be taken by the king at any time, so that’s probably where Daniel is coming from. Famous chambermaids? No. But three poems emerged on them. The first two are from Yeats, “Chambermaid’s First Song” and “Chambermaid’s Second song.”
“These Songs are not meant to be understood, you understand. They are only meant to terrify & comfort.” – John Berryman
How do we tackle this song? (13:00) Lyrically? Do we assign definitions to the words? We as humans want things spelled out but good poetry, good songwriting will constantly grow with or without us.
Before we looked into some Theories from the Internet, Kelly presented (16:00) her unified theory of “I Want You” (which is definitely not inspired by the upcoming Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones). Before that, just why did Kelly hate this song to begin with? “
Bob Dylan is a murderous king. The barrage of images are seen through his eyes in the streets of a medieval city. There’s the guilty undertaker (guilty because Bob’s killing people), the organ grinder, the bells ringing for his victims. The scorn is being heaved toward him from the people – they know the score. Mother’s weep. Father’s mourn the insatiable appetite of the king. Open the gate, he’s coming home to his queen but only wants his chambermaid. Then, in the songs climatic finale, Bob murders the chambermaid’s son because he was real annoying with his dancing. All the “I Want You’s” throughout are seen through Bob’s murder face!
That said, why do they bring all these up? Because Sign on the Window is all about this interpretation. Nothing is going to top the idea of Dylan sitting on a park bench in Episode 2, “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” something of a cousin to “I Want You,”
So what?, Daniel mused. “I Want You” is made up of
In the end, we have our recommendations (29:10). Kelly spent the week watching Top Chef and catching up with Game of Thrones and recommended niche artist Miles Davis and his classic, Birth of the Cool.
Daniel finished Netflix’s GLOW a week too late and recommended John Moreland’s newest Big Bad Luv (and, by extension, High on Tulsa Heat) and Bong Mountain’s You’re Doing Great (For the Record).
This week’s Mixed Up Confusion, we confessed, will essentially become a low-key Game of Thrones podcast, as if enough of those don’t already exist. Listen below:
After a few show notes (33:33), we chose next week’s track at random. Between 1 and 522. Kelly guessed #201. It was #74. It could have been the delightful “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” (“dude loves trains and bells” – Kelly) but instead… instead… is “Woogie Boogie” from 1970’s Self Portrait, our second song from the “album.”