Pass it Around

"If I made records for my own pleasure, I would only record Charley Patton songs." - Bob Dylan

The Virtually Unknown Band Masterpiece Doukhobors in the Nude in Baltimore

The recent American Songwriter special issue on the Band is a welcome thing…with little debate, the greatest Canadian band ever produced in America. 

They picked the top 20 Band songs, for the most part masterpieces written by Robbie.  They missed my favorite, not only a song begging to be covered today, but one from the glorious days when they were in the woodshed with Dylan.  If you like Danko singing about "Crazy Chester" in "The Weight" wait until you hear an entire song the same!  Full of obscure references, real people and events, convoluted non-sequiturs and even DOUKHOBORS, who were crazy Russian / Canadian guys who ran around naked. In fact, above is a little picture of the guys "being free" but I had to crop their wangers out in order to put it here.

Not only that, the only song in history to rhyme Doukhobor with Baltimore.

Although it appeared eventually on the jazzed-up reissue of  Music from Big Pink, this majestic obscurity came out on a few versions of The Basement Tapes in a half-finished version, and then in the version here.  I don't think it was ever really finished.  There is apparently a third version which I am sure would be worth finding as well. 

One of their most beautiful melodies, filled with obtuse but logical lyrics…and my favorite Hawks song.  I am sure the lyrics and song are copyrighted, but hopefully this post will sell enough itune songs everyone will be happy.  Robbie wrote it.  Richard on Drums, probably. Ricky on Vocals. 

"Ferdinand The Imposter"

Ferdinand standing in the tower thinkin how to get the power
Empress knows that it would cost her
For Ferdinand The Imposter
Came to me to make a deal,
Dressed like General Butterfield.

Couldn't wait to thank him for the stuffed birds and rubber door
Donated to him from the poor
But its just his game
And he carries no shame
Still, he done nobody wrong
He knew he didn't belong
But he went along

Looking to see if there's somebody else he'd like to be
Benny the Barber, Luke and me,
Passed out tickets cautiously,
To see the burning of the soup,
Down at Lucy's chicken coop.
Then of course Ferdinand,
Started out doing Charlie Chan.
That last atlas honkey's fall,
He says he's gonna do them all.

A voice just said he's not for real,
But its just his game,
And he carries no shame.
Still he done nobody wrong,
He knew he didn't belong,
But he went along.
Lookin' to see if there's somebody,
Else he'd like to be.

Oh its hard, oh, don't you know
To be somebody that you dont even know
But he's friendly, yes he's kind
I can't help wonderin why they'd want to change his mind

Got a message in the mail,
Ferdinand was thrown in jail.
I left the snow with Abigail,
Went on down to fix his bail.
They had him locked in a gunny sack,
His hands were tied behind his back.
He claimed he was a Doukhobor
But they never heard of that in Baltimore.
The police said he'd better go home,
And he went back alone,
Back to the snow.

Still he done nobody wrong,
He knew he didn't belong,
But he went along.
Lookin' to see if there's somebody,
Else he'd like to be,
Mainly free.