030 – “Maybe Someday”

Episode 30 (!). “Maybe Someday.” Knocked Out Loaded. September 21, 2017. The Apartment. Rainier’s.

The song was recorded as an instrumental in December, 1984 for the sessions that resulted in Empire Burlesque and overdubbed in May of 1986 for what became Knocked Out Loaded, released in July 1986. It was originally titled “Prince of Plunder” but its lyrics were completely changed into what became “Maybe Someday.” The record credits Don Heffington on drums, Mike Campbell on guitar, and Howie Epstein on bass – though after all the overdubs and toggling and other nonsese, it’s worth questioning how much of them actually remained.

This song was never played live. Knocked Out Loaded went on to be considered one of Dylan’s all-time loathsome outputs. As Michael Gray notes in his Bob Dylan Encyclopedia: 

An album title suggesting that its contents were thrown together when Dylan was drunk bodes ill by its very defensiveness.

Dylan, being Dylan, but this time being correct, described this album (and by extension “Maybe Someday” as all sorts of stuff … not really hav[ing] a theme or a purpose.” Howard Sounes, in Down The Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan, quotes Dylan saying, if the records I’m making only sell a certain amount anyway, then why should I take so long putting them together?”

With that ringing endorsement, what are we waiting for? Let’s dive in!

The music (12:30): This is our first significant Dylan overdubbed song. And no one liked it. Kelly: “This song sucks and I don’t want to be a part of it,” “I was interested in 80s Bob. But I hoped it would be like The Cure or the Violent Femmes and less a terrible version of Huey Lewis and the News,” Dylan sounds like “someone is trying and failing to start a car” and “doesn’t know what tempo it is or wants to be.” In the end, “relentlessly repetitive” sums it up quite nicely.

Michael Gray is generous when he likens the music to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. He is, quite quotable, when it comes to Dylan’s vocals. The song would be “terrific”

if the voice weren’t half-way to sounding like a Chipmunks parody of Dylan recorded from the far side of a football field.

Songs like this prove the rule, for Bob at the very least, that recording in a room trounce trying to piece an album together.

As for the lyrics, Kelly and Daniel are in disagreement with the general consensus. There isn’t a gem here. Underneath all the butt rock and generic chords is nothing of note. A few of these turns of phrases work well, in general, but is that, now or in 1986, all we had to hold Dylan up to? Is Maybe someday when you’re by yourself alone / You’ll know the love that I had for you was never my own or Maybe someday, you will understand / That something for nothing is everybody’s plan good enough?

The reality is that Dylan has already written this song, and the songs from those one-liners, before. In the case of “Maybe Someday,” I’ll direct you to “Like a Rolling Stone.” Dylan did super salty on an unimaginable scale before. We don’t need him of twenty more years singing it again. The only interesting idea comes from the close of verse 4:

Maybe someday you will look back and see
That I made it so easy for you to follow me

I had always been drawn to this because, while this song is terrible, it does have a coherence and this degree of self-reflection is notable. It also speaks in a broader sense that, per usual, Tony Attwood articulates:

That is one of the most extraordinary Dylan verses of all time.  We’re in Eliot land throughout but now who is following who?  Is Dylan following Jesus?  Is the lover following the singer?  Are the fans following Dylan?  Are Eliot and Pound still fighting in the captain’s tower?  Probably yes, all round.

I admire the convictions all around that this track is good, a “forgotten masterpiece” even. I can’t jump on that train but I’m happy to watch.

Finally, the references. Knocked Out Loaded is best remembered for purely being the wasteland that contains “Brownsville Girl,” a formidable masterwork. Daniel makes the point that “Brownsville Girl” was the perfect synthesis of an anesthetic that gets dragged into other songs. The heights of “Brownsville Girl” (and all that it contains) drags “Maybe Someday” (and all the rest of this album’s songs) through the mud because, unlike there, this song (and the rest) use old movies like Dylan uses the Bible – as a way to fill in a line in a verse that makes up a song.

As for “Maybe Someday,” Dylan references T.S. Eliot (1927’s Journey of the Magi), Bert Lancaster in Separate Tables (1958), Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past (1947), and Sabrina (1955). The references, or other scenes in the films, are featured in the episode.

Recommendations (30:00): Kelly finished iZombie and is plowing through Queery, so not much new. She’s listening to the new Queens of the Stone Age album, Villians, for the next Mixed Up Confusion.

Daniel has been listening to Choke Up’s newest “Stormy Blue” (and also recommends 2015’s Black Coffee, Bad Habits). He is currently in the middle of 10Q, which asks you daily questions about the last year (and predictions for the future), locks them away and shows them to you the next year. Also, who can forget, but the newest iteration of The Bootleg Series has just been announced: Volume 13, Trouble No More: 1979-1981.

Endings: 504 songs left. Kelly guessed #392. “Went to See the Gypsy.” It’s #10. “If Dogs Run Free” from New Morning(Our first from the record, and getting closer to “Sign on the Window” every day.)

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