Bob Dylan’s best songs – Lenny Bruce – #148

Lenny Bruce 2

 Maybe he had some problems, maybe some things that he couldn’t work out
But he sure was funny and he sure told the truth and he knew what he was talkin’ about
~Bob Dylan (From the lyrics of “Lenny Bruce”)

Here’s a song I wrote a while back about a guy who died pretty miserably  actually. I figured I didn’t write this song, nobody would so, somebody had to write it. There’s a great American playwright named Tennessee Williams. He said, “I’m not looking for your pity, I just want your understanding. No, not even that, but just your recognition of me and you and time, the enemy in us all.” Anyway, he died pretty miserably too. So this is a man who got no recognition really during his lifetime. But he laid down a lot of road for a lot of people to walk on. People still walking on that road, making lots of money, living in fine houses. Have plenty of women and eating good food. And he didn’t have none of them things.
~Bob Dylan (before “Lenny Bruce”  @ Nippon Budokan Hall – Tokyo, Japan – 10 March 1986)

@ #148 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs. A song about the great stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce.

shot of love


The original version from “Shot Of Love” is a very good song.. but there are many live versions that are superior…

Here is a great example:

Live @ Kooyong Stadium – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia – Feb 1986

Musicians playing on this video:

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Tom Petty (guitar)
  • Mike Campbell (guitar)
  • Benmont Tench (keyboards)
  • Howie Epstein (bass)
  • Stan Lynch (drums)

  • The Queens Of Rhythm:
  • Debra Byrd
  • Queen Esther Marrow
  • Madelyn Quebec
  • Elisecia Wright (backing vocals)

bob-dylan 1986 live

….a sincere tribute and an acute summary of at least part of what had been at stake in the struggle that was Lenny Bruce’s life..
~Michael Gray

 Lenny Bruce

Birth name Leonard Alfred Schneider
Born October 13, 1925
Mineola, New York, U.S.
Died August 3, 1966 (aged 40)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Medium Stand-up, film, television, books
Nationality American
Years active 1947–1966
Genres Satire, political satire, black comedy, improvisational comedy
Subject(s) American culture, American politics, race relations, religion, human sexuality, obscenity, pop culture
Influences Dick Gregory, Mort Sahl, Joe Ancis
Influenced Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, David Cross, Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Krassner, Lewis Black, Jon Stewart, Peter Cook, Abbie Hoffman, Joan Rivers,Nick Di Paolo, Sam Kinison, Eddie Izzard, Howard Stern, Bill Hicks, Rich Vos, Jerry Sadowitz, Cardell Willis, Denis Leary, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, Rick Shapiro,Dave Chappelle, Tommy Chong, Stewart Lee

Leonard Alfred Schneider (October 13, 1925 – August 3, 1966), better known by his stage name Lenny Bruce, was an American stand-up comedian, social critic and satirist.

He was renowned for his open, free-style, dangerous and critical form of comedy which integrated politics, religion, and sex. His tumultuous private life marked by substance abuse, promiscuity, as well as his efforts to prevent his wife from working as a stripper, make him a compelling figure. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in New York state history. He paved the way for future outspoken comedians, and his trial for obscenity, in which – after being forced into bankruptcy – he was eventually found not guilty is seen as a landmark trial for freedom of speech in the US.

Lenny Bruce 3

Live @ Palace des Sports – Avignon, France – 25 July 1981

Musicians playing on this video:

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Fred Tackett (guitar)
  • Steve Ripley (guitar)
  • Willie Smith (keyboards)
  • Tim Drummond (bass)
  • Jim Keltner (drums)
  • Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina Havis, Madelyn Quebec (background vocals).

bob dylan 1981


Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lives on and on
Never did get any Golden Globe award, never made it to Synanon
He was an outlaw, that’s for sure
More of an outlaw than you ever were
Lenny Bruce is gone but his spirit’s livin’ on and on

Maybe he had some problems, maybe some things that he couldn’t work out
But he sure was funny and he sure told the truth and he knew what he was talkin’ about
Never robbed any churches nor cut off any babies’ heads
He just took the folks in high places and he shined a light in their beds
He’s on some other shore, he didn’t wanna live anymore

Lenny Bruce is dead but he didn’t commit any crime
He just had the insight to rip off the lid before its time
I rode with him in a taxi once
Only for a mile and a half, seemed like it took a couple of months
Lenny Bruce moved on and like the ones that killed him, gone

They said that he was sick ’cause he didn’t play by the rules
He just showed the wise men of his day to be nothing more than fools
They stamped him and they labeled him like they do with pants and shirts
He fought a war on a battlefield where every victory hurts
Lenny Bruce was bad, he was the brother that you never had

Live @ Hall 3 – Scottish Exhibition And Conference Center – Glasgow, Scotland – 9 April 1995:

Musicians playing on this video:

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

bob dylan glasgow 1995

Other “Bob Dylan’s best songs” @ JV:


5 thoughts on “Bob Dylan’s best songs – Lenny Bruce – #148”

  1. Property of Jesus is my favorite song on Shot of Love….Classic snarling, sarcastic, and angry Bob….”You’ve got something better, you got a heart of stone!” He spits it out like he’s ravaging Mr. Jones in Ballad of a Thin Man…

  2. This is a reminder of why Shot of Love is a frustrating listen. The songs that made it on to the album are catchy and the sound is sweet. Heart of Mine, Property of Jesus, Lenny Bruce, Water-downed Love have a joyous sound and the album as a whole addresses some interesting themes. However, it’s like he’s missing half of the equation with the seemingly sloppy lyrics. (You can see why “Groom” was left standing at the altar initially since it is super tight lyrically, gripping, and a great blues stomp, but doesn’t fit the “pop” sensibilities of the album.)

    Every Grain of Sand and In the Summer Time do hit that sweet spot melodically and lyrically and if Angelina and the fully realized Caribbean Wind that never quite happened would have been there, this would be considered a triumph.

Comments are closed.