Bob Dylan’s Best Songs: Sara

I laid on a dune, I looked at the sky
When the children were babies and played on the beach
You came up behind me, I saw you go by
You were always so close and still within reach

Sara, Sara
Whatever made you want to change your mind?
Sara, Sara
So easy to look at, so hard to define

I’ve heard it said that Dylan was never as truthful as when he wrote Blood On The Tracks, but that wasn’t necessarily truth it was just perceptive. Or when people say Sarawas written for “his wife Sara” – it doesn’t necessarily have to be about her just because my wife’s name happened to be Sara. Anyway, was it the real Sara or the Sara in the dream? I still don’t know.
-Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Cott, 17 September 1978)

Vimeo:

The night Dylan recorded the song in late July 1975, Sara, who was already separated from him, stopped by the studio. Larry Sloman recalls, “Dylan suddenly turned to his wife and said, ‘This is for you,’ and broke into the compelling song he had written for her that summer in the Hamptons. No one had heard it before, but Stone and Scarlet and Wyeth picked up the tempo, Scarlet playing some exquisite fills, underlining the melancholy of the lyrics.
-Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon (Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track)

TOC

  1. Facts
  2. Lyrics
  3. Live versions

@#95 on my list of Bob Dylan’s top 200 songs.

Facts

Wikipedia:

Desire closes with “Sara”, arguably Dylan’s most public display of his own personal life. An ambitious tribute to his wife, Sara, it is possibly Dylan’s only song in which he steps out of his public persona and directly addresses a real person, with striking biographical accuracy. Tim Riley wrote that it was “a fevered cry of loss posing as sincere devotion.”

Dylan’s marriage was in a turbulent state when he wrote the song. Dylan’s estrangement from his wife had led to at least one separation in the previous year. Sara was present at the song’s recording session, (on the same day he recorded two other songs that touched on the subject of marriage: “Isis” and “Abandoned Love”). However, in March 1977, Sara Dylan filed for divorce.

In the lyrics of “Sara,” Dylan states that he wrote “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” (from Blonde on Blonde) for Sara Dylan.

Known studio recordings:

Studio E
Columbia Recording Studios
New York City, New York
31 July 1975
5th Desire session, produced by Don DeVito

  • Bob Dylan (guitar, vocal)
  • Scarlet Rivera (violin)
  • Sheena Seidenberg (tambourine & congas)
  • Rob Rothstein (bass)
  • Howie Wyeth (drums)

Check out: July 31: Bob Dylan 5th recording session for Desire 1975

Live:

  • First known live performance:  War Memorial Auditorium, Plymouth, Massachusetts – 30 October 1975
  • It has been performed only 28 times live – last performance:Belleview Biltmore Hotel, Clearwater, Florida – 17 April 1976
  • Top year 1975

Album:

Lyrics

I laid on a dune, I looked at the sky
When the children were babies and played on the beach
You came up behind me, I saw you go by
You were always so close and still within reach

Sara, Sara
Whatever made you want to change your mind?
Sara, Sara
So easy to look at, so hard to define

I can still see them playin’ with their pails in the sand
They run to the water their buckets to fill
I can still see the shells fallin’ out of their hands
As they follow each other back up the hill

Sara, Sara
Sweet virgin angel, sweet love of my life
Sara, Sara
Radiant jewel, mystical wife

Sleepin’ in the woods by a fire in the night
Drinkin’ white rum in a Portugal bar
Them playin’ leapfrog and hearin’ about Snow White
You in the marketplace in Savanna-la-Mar

Sara, Sara
It’s all so clear, I could never forget
Sara, Sara
Lovin’ you is the one thing I’ll never regret

I can still hear the sounds of those Methodist bells
I’d taken the cure and had just gotten through
Stayin’ up for days in the Chelsea Hotel
Writin’ “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” for you

Sara, Sara
Wherever we travel we’re never apart
Sara, oh Sara
Beautiful lady, so dear to my heart

How did I meet you? I don’t know
A messenger sent me in a tropical storm
You were there in the winter, moonlight on the snow
And on Lily Pond Lane when the weather was warm

Sara, oh Sara
Scorpio Sphinx in a calico dress
Sara, Sara
You must forgive me my unworthiness

Now the beach is deserted except for some kelp
And a piece of an old ship that lies on the shore
You always responded when I needed your help
You gimme a map and a key to your door

Sara, oh Sara
Glamorous nymph with an arrow and bow
Sara, oh Sara
Don’t ever leave me, don’t ever go

 

Live versions

Palace Theater
Waterbury, Connecticut
11 November 1975


Harvard Square Theater
Cambridge, Massachusetts
20 November 1975


Maple Leaf Gardens
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
1 December 1975


Maple Leaf Gardens
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2 December 1975


Forum de Montréal
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4 December 1975

From Ronaldo & Clara:

Madison Square Garden
New York City, New York
8 December 1975

Sources

-Egil

One thought on “Bob Dylan’s Best Songs: Sara”

  1. The girl with Dylan in the photo here is NOT Sara, but singer/actress Ronee Blakely, who sange backup on Desire and went on the Rolling Thunder Revue. Ironically, one of the reasons while Dylan’s marriage to Sara crumbled, Dylan’s chronic infidelity.

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