Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
Release Date: August 30th, 1965
Words by: Jim Abbott
September 11th, 2015
I was fourteen years old when I first consciously listened to Bob Dylan. It was 1974. I had heard him on the radio a time or two, knowing him as the smoothvoiced crooner of a song that I kept hearing called "Lay Lady Lay". I also knew that he lived nearby, in my home county, in upstate New York. At some point in 1973, my dad started getting these bootleg 8 track tapes with minimal labelling usually just the artist's name, album title and song list very basic and covert. One of these tapes was Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits; a pretty straightforward collection of fairly normal sounding acoustic songs and a few with a band. I wore that tape out, amazed at the way the guy could change styles, genres and even his voice. The lyrics started to make sense to my developing mind.
It was "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" that really changed the way I saw Dylan, though. The rather silly title, for a song that had nothing to do with Tom Thumb and was not even close to being a blues number, gave me insight into Dylan's sense of humor, in a vein that continued in his novel from the same era, Tarantula.
Not enough credit is given to Dylan for his melodies on his mid-60's albums. Unlike the early folk stuff, where melodies were borrowed from old traditionalise or obscure songs, there was no template for the music to go with lines like "When you're lost in the rain in Juarez and it's Easter time too." In fact and it's only taken me 55 years to recognise this there was no template for Dylan, period.
Be sure to listen to a range of covers of "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" below.