Delia (1993) – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan at the Supper Club 1993

This is the first song to appear here from Dylan’s 1993 traditional-folk record World Gone Wrong (WGW) and kicks off side two of the record. This album was a follow-up to his other acoustic guitar and harmonica record – Good as I Been To You released the year prior. He had a penchant during this phase to draw deep from the wellsprings of by-gone music, but the songs in WGW seem to hone in on darker and more tragic themes than Good as I Been. The album won the Grammy for best traditional-folk album.

Delia was a gambling girl, gambled all around
Delia was a gambling girl, she laid her money down
All the friends I ever had are gone

Delia’s dear ol’ mother took a trip out West
When she returned, little Delia gone to rest
All the friends I ever had are gone

Delia’s daddy weeped, Delia’s momma moaned
Wouldn’t have been so bad if the poor girl died at home
All the friends I ever had are gone

In the context of rural-blues Dylan plays his guitar in a high tin-like raw sound as if he were from a bygone era. You can hear his breathing and distortion throughout. Dylan held sessions at his Malibu home garage studio and recorded the record in a matter of days. Their appears no writer for Delia , but other songs from the record were written by Blind Willie McTell (Broke Down Engine) and Benjamin Franklin White (Lone Pilgrim).

According to Untold Dylan about DeliaThe most commonly held view is that the song is about Delia Green who was born in 1886 and killed aged 14. The song appears in many forms but the most common is that she was shot dead on Christmas Day, 1900, by youth named Houston, after the couple had had an argument, seemingly him boasting that he had been to bed with her many times, and she saying that was not so. He served 12 years in prison and died in 1927. Delia Green was buried in an unmarked grave.

Other versions of the song with distinct retelling were released by Blind Willie McTell, Johnny Cash and Pat Boone. Regrettably the original studio version of Dylan’s version from World Gone Wrong is not available online, but I have forwarded a live version (2000) from a fan at the Newcastle show below:

References:
1. Wikipedia – World Gone Wrong
2. Untold Dylan – Why does Bob Dylan like “Delia” – and how he rescued the song.

“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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Posted in Music
2 comments on “Delia (1993) – Bob Dylan
  1. Matthew – the accompanying video clip from YouTube seems to have disappeared! I shall seek it out myself!

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