A few days ago, I told my youngest son it had been ages since I’d heard him play that “fare thee well” song on his guitar. As it turns out, the song is more properly called “Dink’s Song,” so named, according to this brief Wikipedia entry, for the woman who sang it for musicologist John Lomax back in 1908. The song was also recorded early on by Bob Dylan, but not included on his first album.

Within an hour or so, I heard my son, who is only slightly older than Dylan when he was starting out, “remembering” the piece on his ’69 Guild six-string. As he felt his way back into the simple palm-muted chord structure, I was pleased to hear how his understanding of the song had grown since he first tackled it two or three years ago, thus enabling him, like Dylan, to make it more his own.

As he worked on it the next day and the next, he let the notes ring more clearly than Dylan, which somehow suits his vocal treatment of the lyrics, which, in turn, in true folk tradition, he is amending slightly as his mood and experience dictate.

Here are the lyrics as set forth on this page at Bob Dylan Musical Roots:

Dink’s Song

If I had wings like Noah’s dove
I’d fly the river to the one I love
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

I had a man, who was long and tall,
Moved his body like a cannon ball.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

’member one evening, it was drizzling rain
And in my heart I felt an aching pain.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Once I wore my apron low,
Been a-keep’ you away from my door.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Now my apron is up to my chin,
You pass my door but you never come in.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Muddy river runs muddy ’n’ wild,
You can’t care the bloody for my unborn child.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Number nine train ain’ done no harm,
Number nine train take my poor baby home.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Fastest man I ever saw
Skid Missouri on the way to Arkansas.
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well.

Indeed, I do love the song, now more than ever. And with it I offer this reminder: what we do in our spare time is everything, because spare time is all we really have. What we don’t do remains forever undone, its bright light and peculiarity unknown.

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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