Bob Dylan: 5 Great Live Versions of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”

When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez
And it’s Eastertime too
And your gravity fails
And negativity don’t pull you through
Don’t put on any airs
When you’re down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They got some hungry women there
And they really make a mess outta you

This reminds me of Kerouac’s “On The Road” – conjuring up a dusty character lost somewhere in America, or South America, down on his luck, wanting to go home and singing off with the bleak but also funny line: “I’m going back to New York City/I do believe I’ve had enough.”
~Howard Souness (His 40 Greatest songs – Uncut Magazine)

Tom Thumb´s Blues has been performed:

  • 2 times acoustic w/ band – both in 2002
  • 234 times w/band – top year 1974 (39 times)

First live performance:

  • Forest Hills Tennis Stadium
    New York City, New York
    28 August 1965

Last live performance:

  • Trädgårdsföreningen
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    15 July 2014

Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, California
3 September 1965

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & electric guitar)
  • Robbie Robertson (guitar)
  • Al Kooper (organ)
  • Harvey Brooks (bass)
  • Levon Helm (drums)

Now if you see Saint Annie
Please tell her thanks a lot
I cannot move
My fingers are all in a knot
I don’t have the strength
To get up and take another shot
And my best friend, my doctor
Won’t even say what it is I’ve got

Sydney Stadium
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
13 April 1966

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & electric guitar)
  • Robbie Robertson (electric guitar)
  • Garth Hudson (organ)
  • Rick Danko (bass)
  • Richard Manuel (piano)
  • Mickey Jones (drums)

Sweet Melinda
The peasants call her the goddess of gloom
She speaks good English
And she invites you up into her room
And you’re so kind
And careful not to go to her too soon
And she takes your voice
And leaves you howling at the moon

Civic Center
Lakeland, Florida
18 April 1976

  • Bob Dylan (guitar & vocal)
  • Scarlet Rivera (violin)
  • T-bone J. Henry Burnett (guitar & piano)
  • Steven Soles (guitar)
  • Mick Ronson (guitar)
  • Bobby Neuwirth (guitar & vocal)
  • Roger McGuinn (guitar & vocal)
  • David Mansfield (steel guitar, mandolin, violin & dobro)
  • Rob Stoner (bass)
  • Howie Wyeth (drums)
  • Gary Burke (percussion)

Up on Housing Project Hill
It’s either fortune or fame
You must pick up one or the other
Though neither of them are to be what they claim
If you’re lookin’ to get silly
You better go back to from where you came
Because the cops don’t need you
And man they expect the same

Now all the authorities
They just stand around and boast
How they blackmailed the sergeant-at-arms
Into leaving his post
And picking up Angel who
Just arrived here from the coast
Who looked so fine at first
But left looking just like a ghost

Hyde Park
London, England
29 June 1996
MasterCard Masters of Music Concert for The Prince’s Trust

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Bucky Baxter (pedal steel guitar & electric slide guitar)
  • John Jackson (guitar)
  • Tony Garnier (bass)
  • Winston Watson (drums & percussion)
  • Al Kooper (organ)
  • Ron Wood (electric guitar)

I started out on burgundy
But soon hit the harder stuff
Everybody said they’d stand behind me
When the game got rough
But the joke was on me
There was nobody even there to call my bluff
I’m going back to New York City
I do believe I’ve had enough

And this one is pretty special:

“I was at the November 19th show in Madison Square Garden in New York which was the first time that Dylan had played New York after September 11th. As a concert it was a fairly standard set list, but there was an atmosphere in Madison Square Garden which was just incredible. There are good bootlegs of the concert but I don’t think they can capture the kind of feeling in the audience of welcoming Dylan to New York two months after September 11th, and there were two moments especially when this became very clear. He started singing “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” and it was as if the entire audience just drew in its breath until the final line, going back to New York City, and when it got to that final line there was just this huge cheer that moved all over through the audience, it clearly at that moment had very, very special meaning for everyone in there.
~Stephen Scobie (to Andrew Muir in an interview for Judas! magazine)

Madison Square Garden Arena
New York City, New York
19 November 2001

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Charlie Sexton (guitar)
  • Larry Campbell (guitar, mandolin, pedal steel guitar & electric slide guitar)
  • Tony Garnier (bass)
  • David Kemper (drums & percussion)


7 thoughts on “Bob Dylan: 5 Great Live Versions of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues””

  1. The Best version ive heard is the one from Manchester in 1966
    mind you i have not heard all the 66 versions
    There were also great ones in late 1980 and 1981

    1. Can´t believe it myself….

      Here it is:

      A truly demonic “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” … is issued (in mono) as the B-side of “I Wan’t You”. For many years this would be the only official evidence of the power of Dylan & The Hawks in performance.
      ~Clinton Heylin (A Life In stolen Moments)

Comments are closed.