063 – “Walkin’ Down the Line”

Episode 63
“Walkin’ Down the Line.”
The Bootleg Series, Volume 1-3. The Bootleg Series, Volume 9.
Recorded July 29, 2018.

Context (3:00)

Originally recorded for Broadside in November 1962. It was recorded for music publisher Witmark in March 1963. This era with Albert Grossman hasn’t been talked about enough on the podcast but writing songs for others was a serious business. The song would be covered far and wide from Joan Baez to Glen Campbell, Odetta and Ricky Nelson, Arlo Guthrie and as recently as Sean Hayes. He’s never played the song live, although Clinton Heylin quips in relation to Dylan’s ill-fated tour with The Grateful Dead:

Another song he was content to give away, ‘Walkin’ Down the Line’ came back to haunt him in June 1987, when at least one member of the Dead expressed a yen for it. He even ran it down at tour rehearsals, though that was as far as it got.

Walking (7:30)

To find the inspiration for a nice walk, Daniel asks you to consider:

We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return; prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only, as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again; if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man; then you are ready for a walk.

Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”

…the subject of walking is, in some sense, about how we invest universal acts with particular meanings. Like eating or breathing, it can be invested with wildly different cultural meanings, from the erotic to the spiritual, from the revolutionary to the artistic.

Rebecca Solnit, “Wanderlust: A History of Walking”

If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.

Charles Dickens

Distance changes utterly when you take the world on foot. A mile becomes a long way, two miles literally considerable, ten miles whopping, fifty miles at the very limits of conception.

Bill Bryson, “A Walk in the Woods”

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

Woody Guthrie

Walk This Way


Song Itself (11:30)

Reminded Kelly of “Paths of Victory.” Similar timeframes, darker lyrics with upbeat melodies. Apparently it’s about the perils of a hobo walking down the road (which prompts Daniel to talk about “Hobo Code” from Mad Men), but it also speaks to twists and turns of life. There’s also a chorus (!) and great harmonica work (!!). 

Recommendations (29:00)

Kelly recommends the GLOW documentary, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting and the movie Sorry to Bother You.

Daniel listened to Remember Sports (previously just Sports) and their newest record Slow Buzz. And for discoveries, Fresh!


There’s 468 songs left. Kelly guessed #106: “Young But Daily Growing” from The Basement Tapes. Nope. It’s #79. “Hard Times” from Good As I Been to You.

Published by Daniel

Occasional writer, persistent nomad; restless, moving, changing. Currently in Portland, Oregon.

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