John Wesley Harding (1967)

Liner notes:

There were three kings and a jolly three too. The first one had a broken nose, the second, a broken arm and the third was broke. "Faith is the key!" said the first king. "No, froth is the key!" said the second. "You're both wrong," said the third, "the key is Frank!"

It was late in the evening and Frank was sweeping up, preparing the meat and dishing himself out when there came a knock upon the door. "Who is it?" he mused. "It's us, Frank," said the three kings in unison, "and we'd like to have a word with you!" Frank opened the door and the three kings crawled in.

Terry Shute was in the midst of prying open a hairdresser when Frank's wife came in and caught him. "They're here!" she gasped. Terry dropped his drawer and rubbed the eye. "What do they appear to be like?" "One's got a broken vessel and that's the truth, the other two I'm not so sure about." "Fine, thank you, that'll be all." "Good" she turned and puffed. Terry tightened his belt and in an afterthought, stated: "Wait!" "Yes?" "How many of them would you say there were?" Vera smiled, she tapped her toe three times. Terry watched her foot closely. "Three?" he asked, hesitating. Vera nodded.

"Get up off my floor!" shouted Frank. The second king, who was first to rise, mumbled, "Where's the better half, Frank?" Frank, who was in no mood for jokes, took it lightly, replied, "She's in the back of the house, flaming it up with an arrogant man, now come on, out with it, what's on our minds today?" Nobody answered.

Terry Shute then entered the room with a bang, looking the three kings over and fondling his mop. Getting down to the source of things, he proudly boasted: "There is a creeping consumption in the land. It begins with these three fellas and it travels outward. Never in my life have I seen such a motley crew. They ask nothing and they receive nothing. Forgiveness is not in them. The wilderness is rotten all over their foreheads. They scorn the widow and abuse the child but I am afraid that they shall not prevail over the young man's destiny, not even them!" Frank turned with a blast, "Get out of here, you ragged man! Come ye no more!" Terry left the room willingly.

"What seems to be the problem?" Frank turned back to the three kings who were astonished. The first king cleared his throat. His shoes were too big and his crown was wet and lopsided but nevertheless, he began to speak in the most meaningful way, "Frank," he began, "Mr. Dylan has come out with a new record. This record of course features none but his own songs and we understand that you're the key." "That's right," said Frank, "I am." "Well then," said the king in a bit of excitement, "could you please open it up for us?" Frank, who all this time had been reclining with his eyes closed, suddenly opened them both up as wide as a tiger. "And just how far would you like to go in?" he asked and the three kings all looked at each other. "Not too far but just far enough so's we can say that we've been there," said the first chief. "All right," said Frank, "I'll see what I can do," and he commenced to doing it. First of all, he sat down and crossed his legs, then he sprung up, ripped off his shirt and began waving it in the air. A lightbulb fell from one of his pockets and he stamped it out with his foot. Then he took a deep breath, moaned and punched his fist through the plate-glass window. Settling back in his chair, he pulled out a knife, "Far enough?" he asked. "Yeah, sure, Frank," said the second king. The third king just shook his head and said he didn't know. The first king remained silent. The door opened and Vera stepped in. "Terry Shute will be leaving us soon and he desires to know if you kings got any gifts you wanna lay on him." Nobody answered.

It was just before the break of day and the three kings were tumbling along the road. The first one's nose had been mysteriously fixed, the second one's arm had healed and the third one was rich. All three of them were blowing horns. "I've never been so happy in all my life!" sang the one with all the money.

"Oh mighty thing!" said Vera to Frank, "Why didn't you just tell them you were a moderate man and leave it at that instead of goosing yourself all over the room?" "Patience, Vera," said Frank. Terry Shute, who was sitting over by the curtain cleaning an ax, climbed to his feet, walked over to Vera's husband and placed his hand on his shoulder. "Yuh didn't hurt yer hand, didja Frank?" Frank just sat there watching the workmen replace the window. "I don't believe so," he said.

Bob Dylan -- Vocal, Guitar, Harmonica and Piano
Charles McCoy -- Bass
Kenny Buttreyo -- Drums
Pete Drake -- Steel Guitar on "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" and "Down Along The Cove"
Engineering -- Charlie Bragg

Produced by Bob Johnston

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