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Bob Dylan — Man in the Long Black Coat
Album: Oh Mercy
Avg rating:
7.3

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1251









Released: 1989
Length: 4:23
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Crickets are chirpin' the water is high
There's a soft cotton dress on the line hangin' dry
Window wide open African trees
Bent over backwards from a hurricane breeze
Not a word of goodbye not even a note
She gone with the man in the long black coat.

Somebody seen him hangin' around
As the old dance hall on the outskirts of town
He looked into her eyes when she stopped him to ask
If he wanted to dance he had a face like a mask
Somebody said from the bible he'd quote
There was dust on the man in the long black coat.

Preacher was talking there's a sermon he gave
He said every man's conscience is vile and depraved
You cannot depend on it to be your guide
When it's you who must keep it satisfied
It ain't easy to swallow it sticks in the throat
She gave her heart to the man in the long black coat.

There are no mistakes in life some people say
It is true sometimes you can see it that way
But people don't live or die people just float
She went with the man in the long black coat.

There's smoke on the water it's been there since June
Tree trunks unprooted beneath the high crescent moon
Feel the pulse and vibration and the rumbling force
Somebody is out there beating on a dead horse
She never said nothing there was nothing she wrote
She gone with the man in the long black coat.
Comments (162)add comment
Uh oh.

Bob is sneaking around. Stalking us. Creeping up on us.

Turn around quick!  Was that him, in the long black coat?
A fantastic album. One of my favourites.
 SpinyNorma wrote:
As with a lot of Mr Zimmerman's works, to my ears a cover version by another artist is far, far better.  In this case, I am referring to Joan Osborne on 'Relish'. I'm not doubting his writing talents at all, but he has a voice like a goose farting in the fog. 

And don't get me started on the chuffin' harmonica solos... 
 
It's pretty good. I don't know who sang it first, and I don't care, truly. BD's singing it here, and so I'll listen. He's demonstrated good taste in the past.
Smoke? On the water?
As with a lot of Mr Zimmerman's works, to my ears a cover version by another artist is far, far better.  In this case, I am referring to Joan Osborne on 'Relish'. I'm not doubting his writing talents at all, but he has a voice like a goose farting in the fog. 

And don't get me started on the chuffin' harmonica solos... 
What atmosphere and great use of an odd beat and key...and then the great bridge and:

There are no mistakes in life some people say
It is true sometimes you can see it that way
But people don’t live or die people just float

I had to go 8 to 9 today....partly due to how great it flows into Cash's "Hurt"  Long Live RP!!  
 javelipix wrote:
A great song from one of the most underrated albums of all time. 
 

       and it's one of my favourite albums too.. 
 PeterMC3 wrote:
Covers that are better than the original - love this but Joan Osbourne's cover is stonking! Then Bill follows it with Johnny Cash's Version of 'Hurt'. Add that to the list...

 
Agreed.  Was in Nashville a couple of weekends ago and went to the Johnny Cash museum and they were playing this in one of the rooms.  Gave me chills.

yeah I didn't know about this and picked it up 2nd hand, wow! incredible songs
A great song from one of the most underrated albums of all time. 
So, is this a song about suicide?  The Man in the Long Black Coat is Death, right?
{#Frustrated}

 

From another great album that was made so much better thanks to the touch of Daniel Lanois. 


 westslope wrote:
I always enjoy Dylan but have to ask.

Did his voice get more gravelly over time due to tobacco and/or weed smoking or was there some other reason?  

 
I'm pretty sure Zimmy still smokes....or at least he did the one and only time I saw him in the summer of 2000.  I don't think weed smoking did that to him, even if he were still toking which I doubt he does with much regularity if at all.

And this album was out in the 80s; his voice has gotten even more gravelly since then! 

Oh...and as far as his singing voice goes, honestly, I can't even imagine his tunes sung in a "pretty" voice.  Heck, even the most famous cover (All Along the Watchtower) was sung by an artist with a voice I wouldn't consider great; Jimi had emotion, like Bob, in his voice, and that makes up for pure singing ability a lot!  Peace and Long Live RP!!


I always enjoy Dylan but have to ask.

Did his voice get more gravelly over time due to tobacco and/or weed smoking or was there some other reason?  
Wahouuuuuuu magnifique !!!  {#Roflol}
Covers that are better than the original - love this but Joan Osbourne's cover is stonking! Then Bill follows it with Johnny Cash's Version of 'Hurt'. Add that to the list...
An excellent song from one of my favourite Dylan albums. This was a great record all 'round.
{#Devil_pimp}zesty! front to back " what was it u wanted ? "
 LAwolf8 wrote:
I hear great songs on RP, and want to explore the CD or album but then Bill puts on another great one and I don't play mow own collection because he's playing new things.  LOL

 
I find I don't need anything else.  Albums feel like a letdown after hearing RP, which is the greatest playlist I've ever come across.  Listen to commercial radio?  I don't think so.
I hear great songs on RP, and want to explore the CD or album but then Bill puts on another great one and I don't play mow own collection because he's playing new things.  LOL
I bought this used at a small record shop, it's a really good Dylan album, I have so many of those and The Band
 Schmoogsley wrote:
Not a Bob Dylan fan at all, but, this song sounded GREAT on my stereo. 

 
Same here!
I absolutely love this song and the way it's played.
 Schmoogsley wrote:
Not a Bob Dylan fan at all, but, this song sounded GREAT on my stereo. 

 
Try some of the other tunes on Oh Mercy.  It's a good album.  

Love the Crickets on this one. 
Mr. Nobel prize winner!
Congrats to him!
{#Notworthy} 
Oh Mercy...sing on Brother Bob. 

The Never Ending tour will end some day and the world will become a little less fun. 

Sing on Brother.    
Not a Bob Dylan fan at all, but, this song sounded GREAT on my stereo. 
It's always nice to hear Bob Dylan's voice. Thanks RP!!!  {#Music}
 saloutwest wrote:

Are you seriously still talking about Dylan's voice, that's like complaining or criticizing Neil Young's or Leonard Cohen's voice for that matter while we're on the subject why not criticize Tom Waits too? These are all accomplished great artists and poets their diminished vocals only makes them different and different is always better. It's the fabric of rock and roll.

 
Amen brother
 gregskrtic wrote:
I am a great fan of Bob—I love how his voice changes, becoming more gravelly as the years go by.  One of the other things I like about Bob is that just about anyone can cover one of his songs and make it distinctively their own—not better, mind you, but seriously different.  While Bob was singing "All along the Watchtower" as a folk tune back in the 60's, Jimi took it and psychedelicked the shit out of it!  Same story with many of his well known tunes—check out "Chimes of Freedom" for a great mix of covers.   {#Notworthy}
 
{#Cheers}
Never realized what awesome bass there is on this song.

More proof you don't actually have to sing to make a real good living as a singer.
 lemmoth wrote:

Amen OTB - This is rock and roll people

 
Are you seriously still talking about Dylan's voice, that's like complaining or criticizing Neil Young's or Leonard Cohen's voice for that matter while we're on the subject why not criticize Tom Waits too? These are all accomplished great artists and poets their diminished vocals only makes them different and different is always better. It's the fabric of rock and roll.
Sing on brother Bob. Oh Mercy....
Basically a lyric short story.  Brilliant. 
  On_The_Beach wrote:
People still whining about Dylan's voice after all these years?
Get over it people!
His distinctive vocals are part of what makes him great.

  
lemmoth wrote:

Amen OTB - This is rock and roll people

 

I am a great fan of Bob—I love how his voice changes, becoming more gravelly as the years go by.  One of the other things I like about Bob is that just about anyone can cover one of his songs and make it distinctively their own—not better, mind you, but seriously different.  While Bob was singing "All along the Watchtower" as a folk tune back in the 60's, Jimi took it and psychedelicked the shit out of it!  Same story with many of his well known tunes—check out "Chimes of Freedom" for a great mix of covers.   {#Notworthy}
Godlike to me

 
 On_The_Beach wrote:
People still whining about Dylan's voice after all these years?
Get over it people!
His distinctive vocals are part of what makes him great.

 
Amen OTB - This is rock and roll people
AvoidingWork wrote:
It's not very often that I don't like a song.  But this is really not doing it for me.  I really like the original.  But this...  Just not my cup 'O tea.
 
 On_The_Beach wrote:

The original??

  
Yeah, Bob wrote this, not Joan Osborne. From Wikipedia:

"In his own assessment of 'Man in the Long Black Coat', Dylan wrote that 'in some kind of weird way, I thought of it as my 'I Walk the Line,' a song I'd always considered to be up there at the top, one of the most mysterious and revolutionary of all time, a song that makes an attack on your most vulnerable spots, sharp words from a master'."

RPers seem to either love or hate The Bob. I'm in the former camp but sometimes he wears me out real fast. Not on this song, though. 

Still from video to "Subterranean Homesick Blues" showing Bob Dylan holding a card that says "I CAN'T SING." 

Oh Bob! Don't be so hard on yourself!  

Why does his delivery remind me of the 3 witches dancing around the cauldron  in MacBeth?


"People don't live or die. People just float . . . . " Those are some very cool lyrics. Who is this guy?
One of Dylan's finest...this and Most of the Time, both from the same album, both outstanding.

This a subtle song, note the high pitched 'cricket' sound in the background adding to the atmosphere...love it!
 AvoidingWork wrote:
It's not very often that I don't like a song.  But this is really not doing it for me.  I really like the original.  But this...  Just not my cup 'O tea.
 
The original??
Just an absolutely great song with tons of soul.  What an incredible life Mr. Dylan has lived.
 TerryS wrote:
The syncopated Dylan.

 
Still prefer the Joan Osborne version.
It's not very often that I don't like a song.  But this is really not doing it for me.  I really like the original.  But this...  Just not my cup 'O tea.

(edit)

But I am all for the latter half of Lazarus's comment. 
Everybody in my homeless camp loves this song...  we be dancing...  love sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll...
I'm liking this, and it still impresses/amazes me that Dylan has such staying power for someone who doesn't really sing in the typical sense. Ditto for Tom Waits and Johnny Cash.
10, next
There are not many songs by "Ol Gravel Voice" that I can sit through without hitting the PSD button but this is one of them. A solid 6.
Bob Dylan will never die!
 On_The_Beach wrote:
People still whining about Dylan's voice after all these years?
Get over it people!
His distinctive vocals are part of what makes him great.

 
I'd have said that it was just a small part of his overall crapness.
 oldfart48 wrote:
Dylan's worst beats someone screaching at me in some language that gets me soaking wet if I get close.....



 
Man, you need to get out more. Dylan is great but so was Callas. I'd bet she never spat at anyone without reason. Screeching has no a in it.
High pitch background sounds! Very unpleasant. Had to turn down the volume. 
People still whining about Dylan's voice after all these years?
Get over it people!
His distinctive vocals are part of what makes him great.
The syncopated Dylan.
What a horrible version of this song. It sounds like he's singing with the hiccoughs. 
 KalleB wrote:

You prefer pretty voices?

Visit the opera!



  Dylan's worst beats someone screaching at me in some language that gets me soaking wet if I get close.....


 Elroweho wrote:
Starts out great until he starts "singing"!
 

You prefer pretty voices?

Visit the opera!


Starts out great until he starts "singing"!
 Cynaera wrote:
I agree that the pauses between phrases are difficult - but I think it's an effective way of making the listener actually stop and LISTEN to the words (as usual, very vivid imagery, and I bet Stephen King could write a hell of a story around this song.) When a song flows along effortlessly, sometimes one has a tendency to forget to absorb other aspects of the song, such as the instruments, the lyrics, the cadence...

This song uses an unorthodox method to pull focus back to the song. Whether you love it or hate it, I feel one must at least respect the approach and the intention.

Me?  I kinda like it. It reminds me of when I was learning to ice-skate.  Three steps, a little coast, and a hard landing. Get up, take three more shaky steps, coast a little further, land again... By the end, I truly appreciated ice-skating to the point where I never wanted to do it again.
 

Miss you so much, Cynaera...

love this song...
 
 hippiechick wrote:
I am so used to the Joan Osborne version, I think I like hers better, but it's a great song.

 
thanks for mentioning this--I wanted to buy her version but couldn't remember her name. 

Bob is doing a Tom Waits imitation here. Hard to understand him with the growl and choppy bitten-off delivery.  

edit 4/14/14: but tonight it's effin' great. 
 ZiegZeon wrote:
This is one of the few Dylan songs that I actually enjoy. The atmosphere set up by the back ground make sound great. Like out in a swamp with the crickets. 
 
This.  Dylan drives me crazy most of the time but this is actually rather nice.
 hippiechick wrote:
I am so used to the Joan Osborne version, I think I like hers better, but it's a great song.
 

Amen sister!
I am so used to the Joan Osborne version, I think I like hers better, but it's a great song.
Not today!  WTH?  7 {#Arrow}  6  Way too staccato!

This is one of the few Dylan songs that I actually enjoy. The atmosphere set up by the back ground make sound great. Like out in a swamp with the crickets. 
I prefer Rolf Harris's "The Big Black Hat".
 Maggle_Bish wrote:

And another one to add to the list - I know it's wrong but I just like her cover better.
 
Ha! I was just thinking the same thing myselg
 alanthecowboy wrote:

Here's a fellow heretic, agreeing wholeheartedly with you.  Joan's was the first version I heard, but even if that wasn't the case, it works way better for me.

 
And another one to add to the list - I know it's wrong but I just like her cover better.

I agree that the pauses between phrases are difficult - but I think it's an effective way of making the listener actually stop and LISTEN to the words (as usual, very vivid imagery, and I bet Stephen King could write a hell of a story around this song.) When a song flows along effortlessly, sometimes one has a tendency to forget to absorb other aspects of the song, such as the instruments, the lyrics, the cadence...

This song uses an unorthodox method to pull focus back to the song. Whether you love it or hate it, I feel one must at least respect the approach and the intention.

Me?  I kinda like it. It reminds me of when I was learning to ice-skate.  Three steps, a little coast, and a hard landing. Get up, take three more shaky steps, coast a little further, land again... By the end, I truly appreciated ice-skating to the point where I never wanted to do it again.
With ya...

 
rabbi_phil wrote:
Oh Mercy is right!    I'm one of Dylans' biggest fans but this just brutal.  
 


 SlinkyJ wrote:
I know this is heresy, but I like Joan Osborne's cover better.
 
Here's a fellow heretic, agreeing wholeheartedly with you.  Joan's was the first version I heard, but even if that wasn't the case, it works way better for me.

 Baby_M wrote:
What's up . . . with the abrupt . . . pauses in the middle . . . of each line.  Is this Bob . . . Dylan or . . . Paul Harvey, . . . the "Prince . . . of Pause"?

Good day!
 

{#Roflol}
Oh Mercy is right!    I'm one of Dylans' biggest fans but this just brutal.  
Solitary men in long black coats, some are bad guys and some are good guys


Bob Dylan channels Cake.
Dear god this is awful.
This is as boring as a poem in Iambic Pentameter.
What's up . . . with the abrupt . . . pauses in the middle . . . of each line.  Is this Bob . . . Dylan or . . . Paul Harvey, . . . the "Prince . . . of Pause"?

Good day!
Amazing how Dylan conveys the ominous undercurrent of this waltz so well. Other versions may be prettier to the ear but this is a treat for the mind's eye.
 Marcuse wrote:
The wonderful Daniel Lanois touch.
 
Agreed. On one level, all the albums he produces are about him.

I know this is heresy, but I like Joan Osborne's cover better.
 Huey wrote:
Amazing. 8.
 
Yes, this is very nice!

Amazing. 8.
The wonderful Daniel Lanois touch.

The man in me by ~alusbaykan
Alus Baykan  ©2007-2010 ~alusbaykan

Bob Dylan@Milano '07

The man in me will do nearly any task,
And as for compensation, there's little he would ask.
Take a woman like you
To get through to the man in me.

Storm clouds are raging all around my door,
I think to myself I might not take it any more.
Take a woman like your kind
To find the man in me.

But, oh, what a wonderful feeling
Just to know that you are near,
Sets my a heart a-reeling
From my toes up to my ears.

The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein' seen,
But that's just because he doesn't want to turn into some machine.
Took a woman like you
To get through to the man in me.

Bob Dylan-1970


you can't rate dylan on his vocal quality. I really dig the harmonica that slices through everything on this one.
 ScottN wrote:

And, don't forget Leonard Cohen.  Who, btw, can still fill a room w/his voice. An arena even. 02 arena in London in 2008. See and/or hear his DVD&CD Live in London performed when LC was 73 for a taste. Amazing & wonderful.  Dylan has earned his props for sure, but why oh why, did he do that awful Christmas album?

 

I saw Leonard in November and it was transcendent. The best concert I've ever seen and his voice (for those of us who like it) was superb. Of course, he has always used his female back up singers to perfection, and they were also superb.

But now, Bob's voice is sadly a shadow of what it once was. He simply doesn't have any range left at all.
Huge Dylan fan here, but not even I can defend him on this one!{#Lol}
I seriously thought that this song was a cover of Bob Dylan by someone doing a parody of his singing.

It's like someone has their hand on Bob's volume control and twisting it back and forth while he's singing...
 keller1 wrote:


Dylan is arguably the best songwriter of the last four or five decades, ......
 
And, don't forget Leonard Cohen.  Who, btw, can still fill a room w/his voice. An arena even. 02 arena in London in 2008. See and/or hear his DVD&CD Live in London performed when LC was 73 for a taste. Amazing & wonderful.  Dylan has earned his props for sure, but why oh why, did he do that awful Christmas album?

 popmat wrote:
LOL - it never fails to amaze me that here we are nearly 50 years after Bob made his first recordings <1962> that there is still discussion over whether he can carry a tune or not or he 'can't sing'...blah...blah...blah!!   Like someone else noted earlier you either get it or you don't.  The first time I heard Dylan in 1965 I 'got it' and I've been listening to him ever since.   Yup, some people have prettier voices but rarely has anyone one-upped Bob on his own stuff.  Hendrix comes to mind......Oh well, it's good to know after all these years he still evokes this kind of passion  .... and laughing all the way to the bank!  LOL
 

Dylan is arguably the best songwriter of the last four or five decades, but almost invariably I prefer other peoples' versions of his songs to his own.

And if anybody offers to spin you some tracks from his new Christmas album, turn and run ... I heard his version of Do You Hear What I Hear about a week ago and I'm still trying to get over it.

 popmat wrote:
LOL - it never fails to amaze me that here we are nearly 50 years after Bob made his first recordings <1962> that there is still discussion over whether he can carry a tune or not or he 'can't sing'...blah...blah...blah!!   Like someone else noted earlier you either get it or you don't.  The first time I heard Dylan in 1965 I 'got it' and I've been listening to him ever since.   Yup, some people have prettier voices but rarely has anyone one-upped Bob on his own stuff.  Hendrix comes to mind......Oh well, it's good to know after all these years he still evokes this kind of passion  .... and laughing all the way to the bank!  LOL
 
I like to think I 'get' Bob, but Joan Osborne 'one-upped' him on this tune, big time.  Just my opinion, of course, but that's a great version.

 FlatCat wrote:

I USED (pause) to like DYLAN (pause) and ALL (pause) that he WROTE  (p—a—-u—-s—-e).
Now I WINCE (pause) at the SOUND (pause) of EV'RY (pause) black NOTE.

 
{#Lol}

For a minute there I thought he was singing about a "Strong Black Goat".
 newwavegurly wrote:
The cadence/rhythm in which he "sings" this song is extremely annoying.
 
I USED (pause) to like DYLAN (pause) and ALL (pause) that he WROTE  (p—a—-u—-s—-e).
Now I WINCE (pause) at the SOUND (pause) of EV'RY (pause) black NOTE.

popmat wrote:
LOL - it never fails to amaze me that here we are nearly 50 years after Bob made his first recordings <1962> that there is still discussion over whether he can carry a tune or not or he 'can't sing'...blah...blah...blah!! Like someone else noted earlier you either get it or you don't. The first time I heard Dylan in 1965 I 'got it' and I've been listening to him ever since. Yup, some people have prettier voices but rarely has anyone one-upped Bob on his own stuff. Hendrix comes to mind......Oh well, it's good to know after all these years he still evokes this kind of passion .... and laughing all the way to the bank! LOL

I think that's probably because a lot of people find it better to discuss Bob than actually listen to him.


 popmat wrote:
LOL - it never fails to amaze me that here we are nearly 50 years after Bob made his first recordings <1962> that there is still discussion over whether he can carry a tune or not or he 'can't sing'...blah...blah...blah!!   Like someone else noted earlier you either get it or you don't.  The first time I heard Dylan in 1965 I 'got it' and I've been listening to him ever since.   Yup, some people have prettier voices but rarely has anyone one-upped Bob on his own stuff.  Hendrix comes to mind......Oh well, it's good to know after all these years he still evokes this kind of passion  .... and laughing all the way to the bank!  LOL
 
Thinking Grateful Dead's version of Knocking on Heaven's Door. Jerry Garcia, also of debatable voice talent, did an exceptional job on that and other tunes from Bob.

Steve Hackett - Wild Orchids
 keller1 wrote:


And Steve Hackett's.
 
Which Hackett album is this on??

LOL - it never fails to amaze me that here we are nearly 50 years after Bob made his first recordings <1962> that there is still discussion over whether he can carry a tune or not or he 'can't sing'...blah...blah...blah!!   Like someone else noted earlier you either get it or you don't.  The first time I heard Dylan in 1965 I 'got it' and I've been listening to him ever since.   Yup, some people have prettier voices but rarely has anyone one-upped Bob on his own stuff.  Hendrix comes to mind......Oh well, it's good to know after all these years he still evokes this kind of passion  .... and laughing all the way to the bank!  LOL
Good catch.  You're right.

 
birdland wrote:
I LOVE this. Funny, it's not likely that there was influence either way, but I can hear a bit of Waits in this. "Nighthawks" and this released the same year.

Interesting.

 


help
The cadence/rhythm in which he "sings" this song is extremely annoying.
Give me Joan Osborne over this any day.
 stalfnzo wrote:
Of all of Dylan's horrible songs (and ALL of them ARE horrible), this is by far his most horrible.
 

Sorry, stalfnzo, I have to disagree with you.
The worst song by far, is "Lay Lady Lay (lay across my big brass bed...)," which makes me gag. I don't know what ever possessed him to write that one, or to think that it could be sexy. Or was that even his intention? Because it is repulsive. OK. I'm done.
Great Album. Great Tune. If you don't get Bob, you don't get it.
Of all of Dylan's horrible songs (and ALL of them ARE horrible), this is by far his most horrible.
I LOVE this. Funny, it's not likely that there was influence either way, but I can hear a bit of Waits in this. "Nighthawks" and this released the same year.

Interesting.

Form is temporary, but CLASS IS PERMANENT!
Krispian wrote:
What a gorgeous song. First I've heard of the original, and I LOVE ALL the covers I've heard. Joan Osborne's version is very nice, as is Emmylou's.
And Steve Hackett's.
Happy Birthday (3 days ago)! We claim him as one of our own, straight from the Iron Range, though he doesn't talk much about his birth state.
Joan Osborne's cover is way better. It doesn't sound so much like cigarette smoke breathed in time to music..
What a gorgeous song. First I've heard of the original, and I LOVE ALL the covers I've heard. Joan Osborne's version is very nice, as is Emmylou's.
virginiadreaming wrote:
nice song, but it needs Billy Corgan :drunk:
A cruel and unusual torture to be sure.
stalfnzo wrote:
First of all, just to make sure everyone knows how I truly feel about this whole matter, I HATE BOB DYLAN! My distaste for Dylan comes from the fact that I usually can't figure out what language he's singing in. Second, does anyone have a worse voice than Dylan? Third, when I bother to look up the lyrics to his songs (remember, I can't understand a single word he says), I find them simplistic and juvenile. That being said, let me comment on how I feel about this song. This has got to be the worst Dylan song ever. I mean, this really sucks. Joan Osborne's version truly emotes the feeling of the tale with her wonderful voice. Dylan, on the other hand, has created an ugly and cruel farce that nauseates me. Please, Bill, never play this song again.
Feelin' the love on Valentine's Day, eh? :roflol:
This is how we torture our prisoners in Iraq: Make them listen to this song over and over and over.... Once was enough to drive me mad. Poor prisoners...
I thought Joan Osborn wrote this number ? Certainly she sings it better than Dylan.