Bob Dylan

It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry

Composed by Bob Dylan

Song Review by

The original Highway 61 Revisited version of this song is a lazy acoustic/electric blues with Bob Dylan singing -- in a husky, R&B-influenced voice -- an amalgam of lines lifted from a variety of old blues songs, as well as peppering in his own inspired lyrics: "Well, the wintertime is coming, the windows are filled with frost/I tried to tell everybody, but I could not get across/Well, I want to be your lover baby, I don't want to be your boss/Don't say I never warned you, when your train gets lost." This was an era when an increasingly cynical Dylan was sending out warnings to a variety of sources. Here, however, he supplants his usual smoldering aggression with a world-weary resignation. But his voice sounds great: full-throated and warm, as opposed to the more pinched, barking style of his more rocking electric recordings from these sessions. After starting with Dylan's gentle acoustic guitar riff, a great offbeat entrance from drummer Bobby Gregg kicks the band into gear with a shuffling beat. Paul Griffin plays a loose barrelhouse piano part on a tack piano. Harvey Brooks can be heard on a slightly raunchy, "fretty" bass. The band also recorded a very different, faster, and raucous version, available on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3 (Rare and Unreleased 1961-1991). This is the same up-tempo version that Dylan performed at the infamous Newport Folk Festival during the summer of 1965 (backed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band). All of the recorded takes feature Gregg, Griffin, Brooks, and Mike Bloomfield on electric guitar. Al Kooper plays organ on the alternate, up-tempo take. Dylan returned to the loping acoustic folk-blues version on George Harrison's live Concert for Bangladesh (1971), and this arrangement was the blueprint for other live versions during the 1970s.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Highway 61 Revisited 1965 Columbia / Legacy 4:09
The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 1991 Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 3:22
No Image 2001 Sony Music Distribution 4:09
Bringing It All Back Home/Highway 61 Revisited/Blonde on Blonde 2002 Sony Music Distribution
Bob Dylan [Limited Edition Hybrid SACD Set] 2003 Legacy 4:09
Blues 2006 Columbia / Legacy 3:23
The Collection: Another Side of Bob Dylan/Bringing It All Back Home/Highway 61 Revisited 2009 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 4:09
Highway 61 Revisited/Blonde on Blonde 2009 Columbia / Sony Music 4:09
The Original Mono Recordings 2010 Columbia / Sony Music 3:29
The Complete Album Collection, Vol. 1 2013 Columbia Records / Sony Music 4:04
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