Thursday, September 07, 2006

When the deal goes down

Bob Dylan's tribute to Parchment? No, that would be far-fetched but quite possibly a tribute to the Incredible String Band.

The hookline of Dyan's hymn-like song, released as a single from Modern Times, comes from the traditional spiritual Golden Game, recorded by Parchment on Rehearsal for a Reunion.

The phrase "When the deal goes down" seems to be specific to the String Band version of the song rather than the original spiritual.

Parchment changed the String Band's words slightly to
"When the deal goes down, I'll rest my crown, Over in the old golden land"

The String Band's version, incorporated into their song Job's Tears : "When the deal goes down, I'll put my crown, Over in the old golden land"

The traditional version: "When the devil goes down, I'll take my crown, Over in the old golden land"

In one of his verses Dylan rhymes the line thus:
The midnight rain follows the train
We all wear the same thorny crown
Soul to soul, our shadows roll
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

Dylan's song and Golden Game are "end of life" songs, both anticipating eventual reunion. Dylan's lyrics are of course a little more opaque than the original. I've embedded a link to the video on YouTube in the heading.

This is the String Band's version of Golden Game in full:

Keep on walking where the angels showed
(All will be one)
Travelling where the saints have trod
Over in the old golden land
In the golden book of the golden game
The golden angel wrote my name
When the deal goes down I'll put my crown
Over in the old golden land

I won't need to kiss you when we're there
(All will be one)
I won't need to miss you when we're there
Over in the old golden land

We'll understand it better in the sweet bye and bye
You won't need to worry and you won't have to cry
Over in the old golden land


This, I understand, is the original version in full:
In the golden book of the golden game
A golden angel wrote my name
When the devil goes down
I'll take my crown
Over in the old golden land

You won't have to miss me when we're there
-all will be one all will be one
You won't have kisse me when we're there
-over in the old golden land

We'll understand it better in the sweet by and by
-all will be one, all will be one
You won't have to worry and you won't have to cry
-over in the old golden land

There in the land that is brighter than day
-all will be one, all will be one
The father will be waiting across the way
-over in the old golden land

And if you want to hear Parchment's highly-praised acapella version you will have to track down the vinyl. For reasons discussed previously, it's not on Simply...Parchment or any other CD.

I'm going to try embedding Dylan's video here:

8 comments:

pf said...

Some interesting blogs on this song:
Faith and Theology: Bob Dylan's Modern Times: some highlights from the lyrics

Literary Kicks

pf said...

I've checked on the web and on pandora.com and cannot find any evidence of anybody else recording this spiritual, either as Golden Game or as Job's Tears. If anybody knows of other recordings, please post them!

pf said...

This site discusses other aspects of the lyric.

pf said...

Golden Game was also recorded by Reynard in 1976. See a later posting for the connection between Reynard and Parchment

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's "When the deal goes down, I'll put ON my crown, over in the old golden land."

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

You should all be aware that the Scots word 'deil' (pronounced deel) means the Devil and occurs frequently in the Scottish folk music tradition. The lyric as printed for the record sleeve/insert spells the word "deal", but this hardly makes literal sense by remaining unexplained. If, however, Williamson is having a little joke, the hidden meaning of the double entendre will be picked up by many a speaker of Scots. That would bring his rendition into line with the Devil of the original spiritual.

pf said...

A good insight, anonymous. Maybe Robin Williamson got it from a bakelite 78RPM which didn't have a lyric sheet?