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Dignity


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This is the second track on my 2012 covers album, Song Of Myself. It's one of my favorites on the album. Seems I am at my best when arranging Bob Dylan songs. I think I may begin working on an all-Dylan next year, if I feel up to it. (Only one cough on this track.)

I had never heard this song, as it is in Dylan's "lost years" (at least to me), until I read his autobiography and he called this his favorite song that he'd ever composed. My version is quite different than his, musically. Also, I re-order several lyrics.

The most difficult thing about this song was choosing it over all the other great songs Dylan has written. He is one of the greatest relentless geniuses in the world of song, especially his lyrics and his ability to communicate honesty in his presentation. I have over 3 dozen favorite Dylan tunes. This one seemed to fit the best into Song of Myself, even though it is a lesser known than most. "Dignity" was first released on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume 3 in 1994. It was recorded during the Oh Mercy studio sessions (New Orleans) but didn't make it on to the album's initial release.

I wanted to give it a Leon Russell treatment, with touches of New Orleans and honky tonk salloon stylings. There are increasing influences of jazz-blues harmonic structures as the song comes out of the instrumental. By the way, that wail I do coming out of the solo was not rehearsed, it just came out. I didn't think I would be able to do it without a coughing fit. I held off the cough as long as I could.

It's funny how infectious Dylan's way of pronouncing words became while I was rehearsing. I went with it. I had to drop some words, I just couldn't fit them all in because some of my musical phrases were much shorter than his. Plus, I consolidated two later verses into one to make the song slightly less l-o-n-g......

The video on YouTube: Dignity (including photos to illustrate the lyrics, many taken on city streets)

Other draft tracks from "Song of Myself" shared on MacJams include:
Dignity (by Bob Dylan)
Blackbird (by Paul McCartney)
Blue Tattoos (based on songs by Joni Mitchell)
Frozen Man (by James Taylor)
I Have Been Deceived (based on songs by Elton John/Bernie Taupin)
American Tune (by Paul Simon)
Oh Danny Boy (traditional)
No Place Like Home (a duet: piano/soprano sax)
Before There Were Gods (with Michael Hedges)
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Lyrics
Fat man lookin’ in a blade of steel
Thin man lookin’ at his last meal
Hollow man lookin’ in a cottonfield
For dignity

Wise man lookin’ in a blade of grass
Young man lookin’ in the shadows that pass
Poor man lookin’ through painted glass
For dignity

Somebody got murdered on New Year’s Eve
Somebody said dignity was the first to leave
I went into the city, went into the town
Went into the land of the midnight sun

Searchin’ high, searchin’ low
Searchin’ everywhere I know
Askin’ the cops wherever I go
Have you seen dignity?

Drinkin’ man listens to the voice he hears
In a crowded room full of covered-up mirrors
Lookin’ into the lost forgotten years
For dignity

Blind man breakin’ out of a trance
Puts both his hands in the pockets of chance
Hopin’ to find one circumstance
Of dignity

I went down where the vultures feed
I would’ve gone deeper, but there wasn’t any need
Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men
Wasn’t any difference to me

Got no place to fade, got no coat
I’m on the rollin’ river in a jerkin’ boat
Tryin’ to read a note somebody wrote
About dignity

Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade
House on fire, debts unpaid
Gonna stand at the window, gonna ask the maid
Have you seen dignity?

Sick man lookin’ for the doctor’s cure
Lookin’ at his hands for the lines that were
And into every masterpiece of literature
For dignity

Englishman stranded in the blackheart wind
Combin’ his hair back, his future looks thin
Bites the bullet and he looks within
For dignity

Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
Dignity never been photographed
I went into the red, went into the black
Into the valley of dry bone dreams

So many roads, so much at stake
So many dead ends, I’m at the edge of the lake
Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take
To find dignity

- lyrics by Bob Dylan
Song Stats
Hits: 2203
Comments: 48
Fans: 34
Plays: 301
Downloads: 37

Uploaded: Jun 09, 2013 - 10:57:38 AM
Last Updated: Aug 08, 2013 - 10:49:31 AM Last Played: Apr 06, 2017 - 09:06:36 AM
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Comments
alackbass said 1533 days ago (June 9th, 2013)
Dignity
Great track. Excellent song choice and the Leon Russell approach really works. Outstanding piano performance and the sound is awesome. Strong vocal!
Check out my latest song called Mean Miss Teacher
TobinMueller said 1532 days ago (June 10th, 2013)
Excellent song choice
Thanks! There are certainly a TON of Dylan tunes to pick from. Yes, everything really came together for me on this one. Thats why I did two more Dylan covers on my follow up album. Glad you enjoyed it!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
paul f. page said 1533 days ago (June 9th, 2013)
No comparison
I'm not familiar with Dylan's original. But a comparison is pretty much meaningless. THIS track has the Tobin stamp all over it, from the stellar piano work to such a personal take on the lyrics. This is hard piece to "get around" but you've given it superlative treatment with such an intriguing interpretation

Much enjoyed on so many levels.

Check out my latest song called 194
TobinMueller said 1532 days ago (June 10th, 2013)
The Tobin Stamp
I love that phrase, the Tobin stamp! Smiles all around. My number one goal in all these songs was putting my personal spin on the meaning, through musical and vocal choices. Treating each phrase as an idea within a larger concept, it almost makes me use variations and chordal substitutions and forever look for a fresh way to make a word or line more meaningful. Glad you found it intriguing! Thanks for your great ears.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Vic Holman said 1533 days ago (June 9th, 2013)
dignity
don't know the original. but this is great. i do pickup the leon russell styling... impessive
Check out my latest song called Photographs
TobinMueller said 1532 days ago (June 10th, 2013)
leon russell styling
Leon Russell was one of my high school era piano playing heroes. Actually, I loved his whole vibe, from the hair and hat to the controlled way he held himself while playing. That style was culturally natural to him, but I had to really work to get close. I hope you got a kick out of that solo section. Thats when I was really trying to channel him... Thanks for the generous listen.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
peacepiano said 1532 days ago (June 9th, 2013)
Dignity
Jazz-blues piano rings true throughout. Vocal interpretation is all you and all amazing. Thanks for sharing this!
Check out my latest song called Beat SoloMe-O
TobinMueller said 1532 days ago (June 10th, 2013)
Jazz-blues
Thanks. I love comments from fellow pianists. Glad you enjoyed the singing too. Becoming an old guy makes singing way easier. No need to impress with vocal ability in the normal sense, only with a sense of a life lived and honest expression. Its freeing. Got to embrace getting older, the alternative is not enticing! I appreciate you checking in. Thanks.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
thetiler said 1532 days ago (June 9th, 2013)
Amazing piano
right out of the corral. Tobin, I was reading the lyrics on my iPhone but I couldn't login. So I had to get on my iMac and check out your what seems to be wonderful tunes. I don't understand why there is not instrument type singers like your self on major tv instead of just "'the voice". I am looking at your fans I'm thinking here is a guy that should have 100's of fans for each song. I understand the one that scratches the most backs gets a lot of fans but boy you can scratch people's backs with your sophisticated jazz singing and playing. Just don't think many macjamers been around Macjams Tobin with the incredible TALENT you have !

Tobin when it is all said and done not many have passed the way of MJ with your talent Tobin. Much respect to you !
Check out my latest song called They Went Underground
TobinMueller said 1532 days ago (June 10th, 2013)
Talent and respect
Bill, thank you so much for the passionate endorsement! Makes my day. I have deep respect for your talent, as well, both in making music and making guitars. (And tiling, I'm sure.) Mutual respect among musicians is a wonderful thing. Soul synergy. There is such a fabulous balance between taking such long-term care crafting an arrangement and the ability to improvise and create within the moment, something true musicians share. You can see it in their eyes. I am blessed to have a single fan like you, who needs 100!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
thetiler said 1532 days ago (June 9th, 2013)
Ty Bollinger
I listen to a lot of Coast to Coast with George Noory and they have a guy on there and they've had him on for years. His name is Ty Bollinger. I hope you can check him out because he seems to be revolutionizing medicine in good way. I hope you can study him out and see if he has what you are looking for in certain therapies. I know my listen to him on Coast to Coast he sure impresses thousands of people with serious sicknesses. I don't know all about your health issues but I HOPE you can check this guy out !!!!
http://healingstrong.com/tag/holistic-cancer-alternative-cancer-treatments-ty-bollinger-health-healing-hope/


God bless . Hope I didn't intrude.

Again, great stuff Tobin!!!!
Check out my latest song called They Went Underground
TobinMueller said 1532 days ago (June 10th, 2013)
Personal health
Thanks for the concern. Again, appreciated. I actually improved from last summer to this spring, altho am taking a few steps backward so far in last month. But my doctor is really on top of A1AD (which many doctors still don't even know anything about) and we have, for now, found a good stasis, not just slowing decline, but a little improvement. Something new seems to always crop up, tho, in a bad way. But we are meeting them. I will check out Ty Bollinger, whom I had never heard of. Often innovations in one field find applications in another. Thanks for the tip...
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Philip18 said 1532 days ago (June 10th, 2013)
Dignity
Choosing your favourite Dylan song certainly would present a challenge! Great song (I can see how it fits with the Oh Mercy times, especially with "Ring Them Bells") and your interpretation is highly entertaining. The rich, rolling piano is excellent. Your vocal gets inside the lyrics. I like this a lot, Tobin! It sent me back to my Dylan collection to have a listen to the original - it is a superb song.
Check out my latest song called First Night Alone
TobinMueller said 1531 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
It sent me back to my Dylan collection
...Fabulous! It didn't something good!

Suzanne and I listen to Dylan at least one night a month. We dance to his 21st century tin pan alley stuff. Then sit back and listen to his vintage classics. And we say to ourselves, "I am very glad I grew up when I did!"
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
gadzooks said 1532 days ago (June 10th, 2013)
Dignity
A wonderful track ... some fine piano work and vocals on a great Dylan tune.
SG
Check out my latest song called Emoji
TobinMueller said 1531 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
A wonderful track
Thanks. I appreciate your listen!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
PeterB7858 said 1531 days ago (June 10th, 2013)
Dignity
I am familiar with the Dylan version, Tobin but, as others have said, you give this your own special slant. The somewhat subdued, honky tonk style piano works a treat and your vocal work and phrasing draws you into the web of the song. Fine work. Thanks, Peter.
Check out my latest song called Ships In The Night (w Sam D)
TobinMueller said 1531 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
special slant
Thanks, Peter. One of my favorite things about this style of music is that I don't really have to think about my left hand, only my right. Freeing. Glad you liked the whole interplay between lyrics and performance. Its what I spent a ton of time on, figuring that out. And then just let it happen. Thanks for listening.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Gaylen75 said 1531 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
awesome
love this.
Check out my latest song called Dont Go Now
TobinMueller said 1531 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
awesome
Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Dadai.2 said 1531 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
Dignified piano & vocal
Tobin.... your piano playing swings along very much with that Russell vibe (strong bass line with higher register flourishes). This may be my favorite vocal of yours. Your phrasing and expression has a 'set-free' and energetic quality to it. Very engaging and fits perfectly with the piano. I'll be looking forward to your Dylan project. Kudos.

cheers...
TobinMueller said 1530 days ago (June 12th, 2013)
set-free
Thanks! Love the idea of a set-free styling. I was trying to at least set my right hand free! Its almost like playing a character on stage when singing these songs that come from such a strong point of view. Its been great fun, and very rewarding. Comments appreciated!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
MarkHolbrook said 1530 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
Man you can
play those keys! Fantastic!
Check out my latest song called Corn Whiskey
TobinMueller said 1530 days ago (June 12th, 2013)
play those keys!
Thanks!
Btw, I watch "Defiance" too...!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
I.G.M. said 1530 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
Dylan
Long time I was always thinking Dylan`s tunes are drowsy and not well played.... but since I`ve heard the "good stuff" I was blown away by the simplicity and the pureness leading to some deeper truth.
Your interpretation sounds a bit more positive, a bit lighter... like the part right after the solo, very powerful, very pure!!
Thx for this work, it`s great.

All the very best for you and your family from Germany
Check out my latest song called Reflexions
TobinMueller said 1530 days ago (June 12th, 2013)
from Germany
My son and his new wife (they will be married in August) are heading to Germany just before the end of 2013 to work at a University of Heidelberg. You guys should hook up!

Thanks for the listening. Much appreciated. I appreciate Dylan more and more as the years go by, for sure.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Franciscus_Henri said 1530 days ago (June 12th, 2013)
thanks
for pointing me at this.. a fabulous immediate rendition.. I tried t deal with the same emotion in my "hole in the sky " song.
thanks again for sharing the a great song.
Check out my latest song called Sweet Hearts Wait On Every Shore
TobinMueller said 1530 days ago (June 12th, 2013)
There's a Hole in the Sky
I checked out your song. Love the feel. Really nice folk waltz. Thanks for letting me know. And thanks for checking this out. Cheers!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Sigmund said 1530 days ago (June 12th, 2013)
Dignity
Excellent, well played rendition of Dylan's work. BD was way before my time, and his style wasn't exactly my cup of tea, so I am not doing any comparing as I listen. As always with your work, I hear exceptional piano work, and the tone you've been able to capture is awesome. Your vocal performance is inspiring and heartfelt.

Thank you for the heads up on this. I grew up playing rock, and obviously when you listen to my music, my early, as well as current contemporary influences come blasting through. Your music exposes me to a side of music that I don't normally enjoy, so it is nice to hear a talented artist's interpretation of an artform that is, for me, different and unusual. Thank you for that - I enjoyed this!
Sig
Check out my latest song called Running with the Wind by Peter B, feat rok41
TobinMueller said 1529 days ago (June 13th, 2013)
interpretation of an art-form
Thanks for giving this a spin and enjoying the ride. I have always been a genre-hopper, restlessly moving from one to another. Or, perhaps, restless is the wrong word, more like driven to try almost every genre I hear. But, Bob Dylan is still kickin', still writing great stuff. He can't be that far before your time, can he?

:-)
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Warren Smith said 1530 days ago (June 12th, 2013)
Mission accomplished
I have a hard enough time selecting my favorite Dylan period .. let alone trying to pick one favorite song : )

Dylan's impact on contemporary music has been colossal. One of the important paradigms he shifted is the realization that just because a song gets recorded a certain way, that doesn't mean it is the only way to hear it. Of course, he's famous (or infamous?) for restyling his song presentations .. which sometimes work .. and other times don't. The important points are 1) don't be afraid to explore new directions and 2) make it your own.

Here, Tobin, you have mission-accomplished both of those aspirations!
Check out my latest song called Austin Texas [with Bronco]
MartinD28 said 1529 days ago (June 13th, 2013)
Dignity
I can hear Fats Waller doing this piece - love the piano, voice and especially the passion. Really nice!
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TobinMueller said 1529 days ago (June 13th, 2013)
mission
Thanks. I am never afraid, just sometimes not capable. I try and keep playing within my comfort zone nowadays. But I do keep stretching myself in short spurts...!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
TobinMueller said 1529 days ago (June 13th, 2013)
Fats Waller
Great thought! A giant, he.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
jiguma said 1529 days ago (June 13th, 2013)
Another fantastic post Tobin
You have such a range of styles that you seem to excel in, and this is another fine example.
Cheers from Oz,
Neil
Check out my latest song called We End Up Being All The Same (42)
TobinMueller said 1529 days ago (June 13th, 2013)
range of styles
Having a range of styles is both one of those happy accidents of living many years and experiencing many varied opportunities. But as I grow older, I seem to be returning to the way I played as a young man, just starting out. Gives life a nice symmetry...
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
apb said 1529 days ago (June 13th, 2013)
Excellent
You really sound like you enjoyed doing this one Tobin. Fabulous playing and singing (better than Dylan)... would have liked the piano to sound more 'honkytonk' if you see what I mean but .. well you can't have everything. Not familiar with much Dylan at all myself.. but I do recommend checking out a Scottish band called Deacon Blue and their song called "Dignity"- I think they nailed the subject matter, so much so .. I find it even hard and disrespectful to listen to another song with the same title.. ;)
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TobinMueller said 1516 days ago (June 26th, 2013)
Deacon Blue
I, indeed, checked them out. Thanks for the tip. Not as "Irish sounding" as I expected, but very competent song and recording. Enjoyed.

Every song on this CD was performed at the same piano, so I didnt detune it or anything to try and approximate a more honky-tonk sound. And the song's evolution from first to last verses moves away from that style on purpose. But I know what you mean. I may do that for another Dylan tune one day.

Thanks for your careful listen and recommendations.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Doug Somers said 1528 days ago (June 13th, 2013)
Born in the Crescent City?
I love the interplay between your vocal interpretation and the bluesy-southern jazzy piano style (with a lot of other influences in a gumbo of spicy tones). Together voice and piano create a ton of sound. The entire presentation reminds me of you channeling a message that's just got to be said - no self-seriousness or showiness for its own sake. The performance says just listen to the music. That's what it's all about.

You're sounding stronger too which is very encouraging.

Thanks for bringing this music forth Tobin.

Be well,
Doug
Check out my latest song called Coming Home - Based on a Theme by David Kneupper
magnatone said 1528 days ago (June 13th, 2013)
Dignity
i just absolutely love listening to you play the piano tobin - i can't begin to imagine having the piano skills you have just in your right pinky! this is so well done on all levels - your voice is sounding great, and you're giving dylan a run for his money! and let me say one more time - FABULOUS piano playing!
Check out my latest song called Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) and Variations
Joanna said 1528 days ago (June 14th, 2013)
Tobin
I'm not familiar with the original, but I love the lyrics and you sing them well. Great piano, too.
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CIASM_ZENABI_ said 1528 days ago (June 14th, 2013)
dignity
very well played and recorded.
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Moviz said 1527 days ago (June 14th, 2013)
Wonderful piano
and meaningful words and great blues sung and performed so well by you. So pleased to hear you sounding so well Tobin, regards M
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pablatone said 1527 days ago (June 14th, 2013)
looks like it's piano day for me
Here at macjams. Nice honky-tonk sound on this one Tobin.
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Stun Nutz said 1526 days ago (June 15th, 2013)
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Very hearty playing and singing, Tobin. The part where you break out with throaty gusto was a nice surprise. I like the little extras, too... a laugh, a cough. Enjoyable.
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lavalamp said 1525 days ago (June 17th, 2013)
Great track Tobin
The piano work is outstanding as is the vox. Love Dylan, love this!

Blackbird is (Lennon-McCartney), although John had nothing to do with it.

LL
Check out my latest song called The Shallow People
Llarion said 1523 days ago (June 18th, 2013)
Love the styling!!
The piano work is brilliance, as always. I imagined you trading verses with Dr. John on this one. Great interpretation. I've never been a Dylan fan, but your interpretation makes it eminently listenable and thoroughly enjoyable. LOVED the solo section; some shades of HCjr there. Helluva wail coming out of the solo too!! I'd have cracked hard. May I ask; why did you leave the cough in? are you going for a "recorded live" feel? Just a stylistic choice? Whichever - it's part of the personality. Great work, my friend!
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woofer3 said 1521 days ago (June 21st, 2013)
Dignity
Really enjoyable and timeless piece of music.
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Artist Info
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Name: Tobin Mueller
Location: Rowayton CT USA
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I am a professional musician, composer, playwright and director. I've led a charmed life. I'm married to fellow MJer Suzanne and MJer Twonicus is my son, who currently sings and writes for rock bands in the NYC, D.C. and Cleveland areas. My second s... [see more]

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Genre Info
The blues is a vocal and instrumental form of music based on a pentatonic scale and a characteristic twelve-bar chord progression. The form evolved in the United States in the communities of former African slaves from spirituals, praise songs, field

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