The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Genghis Khan and His Brother Don

Where were you in 1968? Oh me. In 1968 I was 28. I'm never quite sure how they figure a generation, but by my calculations, that was like two generations ago.

Joyce and little Bo and I were living in Columbia, a small town about 35 miles south of Nashville. I was finally gettin' paid regular after another year in grad school. We (along with the bank) owned a big blue '65 Catalina four door. We had our first stereo (a Magnavox), our first color TV (RCA, I believe), a couple or three good friends (an artist, a writer, and a theater type), and at the time it seemed like we had the world by the tail. Maybe we did.

I still had lots of hair, even though it was already gray. I wore ties to work, big wide ones, double breasted sport coats, and my slacks were flared. Hell, everybody's slacks were flared. Our brains were even flared for awhile.

Sometimes on early Fall evenings we'd sit out under the car port and look at the spectacular sunsets courtesy of the strange smoke from the Monsanto Chemical company plant located on the outskirts of town. The sunsets looked absolutely, totally psychedelic, and we were not using drugs of any kind.

On weekends we and our friends drank Schlitz or Schoenlings' Little Kings Cream ale, ate ham sandwiches, discussed the Apollo program and the Vietnam War, pontificated about literature and art, and listened to the Weavers, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Credence on vinyl. As far as I can remember, we didn't listen to any of the Byrds' stuff.

I listened to the car radio as I drove to work every morning, but I don't remember hearing the following song anytime that fall. "You "Ain't Goin' Nowhere" was written (and recorded but not released commercially at that time) by Bob Dylan a year earlier. The Byrds put it on their album "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" and released it as the lead single in August of 1968.

I don't particularly care for the Byrd renditions available on youtube and would have preferred the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band version for use here, but their youtube takes weren't up to the high and exacting standards of the Post's musical staff either. So, that leaves Dylan's version. Which is pretty damn good.

If I had heard this song back then, I think I would have remembered it because of it's almost narcotic, swaying, euphoric melody which makes me want to hear it over and over again. I love the lyrics (especially "Genghis Khan and his brother Don"); the whole damn shebang just makes me feel happy.

UPDATE: Dylan video removed, so here's the Byrds instead...

If you've got some time on your hands, you can read about the Byrds' troubles in making this, their first country album, here. You can read about how and why Dylan wrote it here. The Byrds were really ahead of their time with this fusion of  country and rock, predating such groups as the Eagles, America, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Creedence. It's all interesting stuff, so interesting that it took up about 3 hours of my time while I could have been knocking this out and hitting the sack a little earlier.

One thing that caught my eye while reading wiki about the Byrds who recorded almost half of the album in Nashville was their experience at the Grand Ole Opry. As the first long haired hippies to play the Opry, they were greeted with catcalls, heckling, and booing from the audience as they tried to sing Merle Haggard's "Sing Me Back Home." That's the way things were in middle Tennessee back in '68. We didn't need no stinkin' hippies messin' with our music. :-)  Check out the whole story on wiki.


  1. In 1968 I was 25 years old and directing funerals for a large firm in Memphis. After visitation was over in the evening and the place was locked up, a bunch of us would use the really great sound system in the chapel to listen to Dylan. Great music for the times that were a changin!

  2. Where were you in 1968? Oh me. In 1968 I was 28.

    1968 was a watershed year for me. Like Scooney, I was 25 and began the year at Vandenberg AFB, CA; followed by four months at Keesler AFB, MS; and then on to my first tour in Japan... at Wakkanai AS, as far north as you can go in Japan while keeping your feet dry. SN2 was born in '68 and I made Staff Sergeant that year. That was the year I first raced mo'sickles, too. Great times!

    As for the tune... I always liked Baez' version best. She was in her prime then and just had the sweetest voice!

  3. Speaking of the Byrds in '68, "Sweetheart of the Rodeo", there were two gals, Janis Gill & Kristine Arnold, in '86 (reversing the digits), calling themselves "Sweethearts of the Rodeo" recorded a nice song which was the first cut on their CD called, "Midnight Girl/Sunset Town", where the hell was I in '68?

  4. Scooney, I'll bet you guys had Dylan cranked up loud enough to raise the dead!

    Buck, sounds like '68 was a great year for you. I liked Baez back in the day, but can't get past her politics now. I think we've talked about this before.

    George, your mind works in mysterious ways. Thanks for the reminder about the Sweethearts. I did a post on them for you and Sara today. Stay warm up their in cold country. By the way, Have you all had any "Occupy" protesters up there in Eureka? Heh.

  5. I was only 11 for most of '68. I was going to junior high school in Denver. I first heard You Ain't Goin Nowhere around 72 or 73, when I bought the double album Greatest Hits Volume II. That is a great album, and the name was kinda of a joke, as few if any of the songs on it were hits. Much of it was previously unreleased stuff. That album made me Dylan fan. Very few people my age at the time were Dylan fans. His initial time as superstar had quieted way down by the early 70s. I finally met a co-worker fellow Dylan fan in the early 80s. He and I couldn't agree on the lyrics to You Ain't Goin Nowhere. I was sure one line said "put your tent in the wind", while he was sure it said something about McGuinn (rather than in the wind). Maybe there are different versions and we both are right.