“Lay Down Your Weary Tune” by Bob Dylan
There really is no such thing as a simple Dylan song, at least not one that we’ve ever come across. Usually his pieces tend to be multi-subjected, with said subjects themselves being pretty weighty, such as dealing with religious or existential matters. Moreover, due to Bob’s heavy reliance of symbolism, there’s usually a considerable amount of conjecture involved in trying to make sense out of his lyrics.
So with all of that in mind, “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” is surprisingly straightforward. That’s not to say that it’s the type of song which would generally be classified as simple. To the contrary, this piece reads very much like a somewhat-complex poem. But what is being suggested is this being a song that virtually any listener can understand without having to resort to any type of additional research.
And that’s because what we’re basically dealing with here is Dylan comparing certain natural phenomena to music. For the most part, he does so by likening particular events, such as the following to specific musical instruments:
- “crying rain”
- “crashing waves”
- “morning breeze”
The feeling that is derived from this piece is that the vocalist finds nature’s sounds to be by and large soothing. Well, that theory is a bit of conjecture in and of itself. So more specifically, it can be said that being the person/artist that he is, Dylan is very much cognizant of the sounds natural events make. This is something most of us may take for granted from an auditory standpoint. But Dylan doesn’t.
Relatedly, what this piece theoretically serves as is an encouragement to take a break from composing or listening to human-created music and to rather enjoy the sounds of nature.
When was “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” released?
This is a song that Dylan recorded way back in 1963. It was originally intended for an album he dropped the following year titled “The Times They are a-Changin’”. But ultimately, “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” wasn’t officially released until 7 November 1985. Dylan released it as part of a compilation box set called “Biograph“. As such, the first musical act who actually got around to dropping an official rendition of this song was The Byrds in 1965.
Dylan wrote this tune at the home of Joan Baez, another musician/activist who is one of his contemporaries. He laid it down in one take at the studio and, as aforenoted, intended to feature it on one of his 1964 albums. But instead, he opted to include the track “Restless Farewell” on that LP instead.
The only time Dylan is on record as having ever played this song live was in October of 1963. This was shortly after he had written it. That rendition can be found on 2005’s “Live at Carnegie Hall 1963”.
Dylan’s musical inspiration for this track was an unspecified Scottish ballad. The said ballad is generally considered to be a centuries’ old folk song called “The Wide Is Wide (aka O Waly, Waly)”.
It has also been suggested that perhaps the reason Bob didn’t release this track when he originally conceived it was because at the time he was getting a lot of flak associated with allegations of plagiarizing.
The song was issued by Columbia Records. This is the label behind almost every entry in Bob’s discography, which by the way currently encompasses seven decades.
Dylan is the only one credited with writing this song. And for the record, he authored it when he was 24 years old.
This track was produced by the late Tom Wilson (1931-1978). Wilson really ran hard with Dylan during the 1960s.