Canadee-I-O (1992) – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan 28 June 1992

So she bargained with the sailor boy,
All for a piece of gold.
Straightaway then he led her
Down into the hold,
Sayin’, “I’ll dress you up in sailor’s clothes,
Your jacket shall be blue.
You’ll see that seaport town
Of Canadee-i-o.

Now, when the other sailors heard the news,
Well, they fell into a rage,
And with all the ship’s company
They were willing to engage.
Saying, “We’ll tie her hands and feet, my boys,
Overboard we’ll throw her.
She’ll never see that seaport town
Called Canadee-i-o.

(2nd and 3rd verse from Canadee-IO)

Canadee-I-O is the second song to feature here from Bob Dylan’s 1992 album Good as I Been To You. It’s my joint favourite song from the record along with Jim Jones. It’s another traditional English folk ballad believed to have been written before 1839. It’s an engrossing story and the melody is to die for. When I hear it I can’t help but sing it at the top of my lungs. I so admire Dylan for unearthing these old 19th century English ballads that would otherwise remain dust-ridden in some old folk collection and giving them his signature acoustic sound. He really does them enormous justice and his guitar playing is brash, but entirely unique and incapable of replication. It is is a rather straightforward (but skillful) melody-ish strumming, with hammer-ons and sus4-chords over a basically very simple three-chord skeleton. (Read more about the arrangement at Dylan chords).

According to Dylan’s friend Susan Ross, Good as I Been to You began life as a contractual filler. Dylan had scheduled two weeks at Chicago’s Acme Recording Studio sometime in 1992, hiring long-time associate David Bromberg as his producer. On the charts, Good as I Been to You reached No.  51 in the US and No.  18 in the UK, and helped to restore Dylan’s critical standing following the disappointing Under the Red Sky. Canadee-I-O by Dylan is lamentably unavailable for free public listening unless you have a You tube premium account.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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27 comments on “Canadee-I-O (1992) – Bob Dylan
  1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    Dam Matt… The video won’t play and I have searched youtube and I find versions by everyone except him. The one I come up with is Nic Jones.
    Ok…I found the studio version in my digital files.

    He breathes new life into these songs. The fact that he does this passes them along to a new generation.

    • I wasn’t surprised it wasn’t available. That’s the problem when presenting these relatively obscure songs from Dylan’s collection. yeh, I loved what he did with these 19th century English ballads. I know them word for word and have a great time singing them. I love his guitar playing too!

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        It sounds really good. I have the album in digital format…It’s been a while since I listened…on a side note…the Nic Jones version is really good also.

      • I don’t listen to records anymore. I just listen to my music library on random selection. Jim Jones, Arthur McBride, Hard Times and Canadee-IO I listen to the most from that record. You mentioned the Nic Jones version which in the link to Dylan Chords in my post you will find how someone wrote to say they thought Dylan stole Jones arrangement. The author of Dylan chords goes to great lengths to demonstrate how Dylan’s version is not a copy. I personally don’t see that much similarity. Dylan’s version to my ears is far more enticing. but I’m biased. hehe.

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Dylan is one man I would not accuse of stealing anything. Was he influenced by things..yea like everyone else…but he gives credit when credit is due.
        Oh yea I like the Dylan version better.

      • Well that’s the thing as argued by the ‘Dylan chords’ gentleman – why can’t the great singer-songwriters not be influenced or lend from what they have heard? It’s crazy to suggest they shouldn’t or wouldn’t. lol Dylan’s music cares speech was all about how he borrowed or stole if you will.

        Dylan’s crude strumming style of that guitar for entirety of the album was a masterstroke (excuse the pun) and yet the album was just a contractual filler lol. He did that same strumming on his Australian tour with Petty during his solo parts and his Girl from the North Country on his 30th Anniversary concert is just bard arse. How his guitar strings aren’t obliterated by the end of it is anyone’s guess. My God does he goes to town. It’s my favourite version of the song:

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Someone would have to cut themselves off to the world not to hear something…That is silly to act like that would be necessary. Even the great ones need inspiration.
        Funny story…Rod Stewart’s manager asked him to write more songs after he hit really big. Rod asked his manager…what do I right about? My gardener? That is how small his world had become. He cut himself off to most things.

        The reason I said that before is because…hell Dylan doesn’t even plagiarize himself. He changes songs beyond all recognition live.

        Oh…I talked with Bruce the other day and he told me he stopped listening to music for a year. I forgot the reason why but it was really interesting. Bruce is an interesting/amazing person.

      • I liked that story about Rod Stewart. I don’t know much about his back story, but I got into some of his stuff in my 20’s when he did the unplugged concert.

        You hit the nail on the head. He’s beyond authentic and noncommercial in the sense he recreates his own songs to become something entirely unique and re-born.

        I’m surprised to read that about Bruce. he plays the piano I believe. i doubt he’s entirely stopped listening to music since he told me about his favourite song from the Go-Betweens called ‘Quiet Heart’. Check it out if you haven’t heard it. It’s growing on me quite unexpectedly. Yeh, Bruce is one of a kind.

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Bruce did it a long time ago I believe. The more I hear his personal stories the more I’m amazed…I told him he is a true renaissance man…I will check that out.

        Bob keeps us guessing so much…yea he is influenced but he has no need to steal.

        Rod has that voice…a once in a generation voice. Personally I like his earlier music the best.

      • I agree he is indeed a Renaissance man. Great description! Between you and me I think his IQ is way up there lol

        Rod has a great voice indeed.

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        I hope he doesn’t see this…he will get a big head… Just kidding.
        I love commenting with him.

  2. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    Matt I would have swore he wrote it by just listening to it. That is a compliment for him. It has a Blood on the Tracks sound to me.

    • I find nearly all his records have very different sounds, but I can see you drawing parallels with BOTT perhaps more towards the NY sessions. Have you heard ‘Up to me’ which was left off the studio BOTT release? I think it’s on Biograph. That is a brilliant unreleased track.

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        It’s been a long time ago but somewhere I do have the outtakes. I have heard the Roger McGuinn version.

      • I really like how McGuinn sounds. He seems like the consummate professional as well based on the interviews I’ve seen of him. I’d like to hear that version of his. If ‘Up To Me’ was released on BOTT it would be in my top 4 songs from the album. I think it’s probably one of those most underrated Dylan songs, maybe along with ‘I’m Not There’.

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        I heard that version a ways back and loved it. I do believe youtube has the McGuinn verison. I still can’t believe I couldn’t see Canadee-I-O .
        I thin that album is up there with his best from the sixties.

      • Thanks. I’m listening to Mcguinn’s version now. It’s an upmarket more commercialised rock take on it. He sounds a lot like Petty on this. it’s not bad.

        I thought once upon a time, you’ll remember when it appeared that Dylan had released all his songs on YT, but not to be.
        Which album is that? Best of the 60’s??

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Oh best of his sixties albums… Blonde on Blonde, Bringing It Back Home, and Highway 61 Revisited. Sorry Matt I wasn’t clear enough.

      • Those albums were revolutionary on the music front and changed the course of music history forever. I have a fondness for every decade. I think he was at the top of his game in every decade give or take. lol

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        In the eighties he had some weak spots but…one of my favorite albums by him was in that decade…Infidels. I still listen to it on a regular basis. Neighborhood Bully, Sweetheart Like You, Jokerman and the list goes on.

      • Yeh, but even the weak albums which were poorly produced had excellent songs which came to fruition in concer . That’s not to mention of the classic unreleased songs which didn’t make the records. ‘Caribbean Wind’, ‘Blind Willie Mctell’ and Series of Dreams’ to mention a few.

        Neighbourhood Bully gets a drilling in Dylan circles, but I love it.

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        The word play in Neighborhood Bully is fantastic to me. Not just lyrics but is phrasing in that song knocks me out. I love

        “He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
        He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in”

        That gives me chills.

        Is it Israel? Is that the reason people don’t like it?

      • People get up in arms about ‘Bully’ because of its political connotations with Israel and Palestine. I just love the guitar, lyrics and the whole song just pumps. It’s said he had pictures of him in Israel around that time press- released to recognize his support of Israel’s plight. And of course the majority of his fans being being old time leftys don’t take to kindly to this sentiment or where the song goes. I couldn’t give a sh/t. It’s a great song lol.

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Mick Taylor is playing guitar and it is great. Bob on this song…the way he phrases and sings becomes as powerful of a singer as you can find. His voice is slashing in it…very powerful.
        Yea I could care less…

      • Yeh, I haven’t really heard another song like it. It’s almost otherworldly. It’s so political that it feels unpolitical. I don’t know how he did that

        lol Yeh slashing is about right. Mick Taylos deserves big kudos on this. Tremendous.

  3. Thom Hickey says:

    Yes a real Bob triumph. There’s an obvious tip of the hat to the Nic Jones version.

    Regards Thom

    • It’s just puts you in that darn sailing ship in that era. I don’t know how he does it.

      ‘A tip of the hat’ is probably a good way to put it. I was just writing to Max above how someone felt that Dylan stole Nic’s arrangement. And in the link to ‘Dylan chords’ posted in my article the author I believe goes to great lengths to show Dylan’s arrangement is unique. I personally don’t see that much similarity. Also the whole ‘Good as I Been To You’ record follows with that crude unusual picking method.

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