Absolutely Sweet Marie

"Absolutely Sweet Marie" is a song written by Bob Dylan, released on his 1966 double album Blonde on Blonde. The song is an exuberantly up-tempo number.

"Absolutely Sweet Marie"
Song by Bob Dylan
from the album Blonde on Blonde
ReleasedJune 20, 1966
RecordedMarch 8, 1966
GenreFolk rock
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Blonde on Blonde track listing

Song and backgroundEdit

During a 1991 interview published in Paul Zollo's book Songwriters on Songwriting, Expanded Fourth Edition (New York: Da Capo Press, 1997), Dylan gives an idea of how he sees the song in his explanation of a line about a "yellow railroad":

That's about as complete as you can be. Every single letter in that line. It's all true. On a literal and on an escapist level.... Getting back to the yellow railroad, that could be from looking someplace. Being a performer, you travel the world. You're not just looking out of the same window everyday. You're not just walking down the same old street. So you must make yourself observe whatever. But most of the time it hits you. You don't have to observe. It hits you. Like, "yellow railroad" could have been a blinding day when the sun was so bright on a railroad someplace and it stayed on my mind.... These aren't contrived images. These are images which are just in there and have got to come out.

"Absolutely Sweet Marie" was recorded on March 8, 1966, in Nashville, Tennessee. Only two complete takes of the song were recorded. The first take was released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966 in 2015.[1]

Dylan did not perform "Absolutely Sweet Marie" live until 1988, and has intermittently played it since, including during a session for his MTV Unplugged appearance.

"To live outside the law you must be honest"Edit

The song contains the phrase "To live outside the law you must be honest". Jonathan Lethem points to a very similar line by the screenwriter Stirling Silliphant in the 1958 film The Lineup: "When you live outside the law, you have to eliminate dishonesty"; without attribution, Lethem imagines that Dylan "heard it…, cleaned it up a little, and inserted it into" this song.[2] In 1940s, in notes on his lyrics page for the song "Pretty Boy Floyd," Woody Guthrie wrote: "I love a good man outside the law, just as much as I hate a bad man inside the law." Dylan, who has acknowledged being heavily influenced by Guthrie, may have been honoring his predecessor.



  1. ^ "Bob Dylan - The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12". Archived from the original on 2016-02-07. Retrieved 2015-11-29.
  2. ^ Jonathan Lethem, "The Ecstasy of Influence", Harper's, February 2007, 59–71. p. 59.
  3. ^ Campbell, Al. "Blues on Blonde on Blonde". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Ducks Deluxe: Side Tracks & Smokers". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
  5. ^ Deming, Mark. "The Flamin' Groovies: Jumpin' in the Night". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
  6. ^ "Fervor EP - Jason & the Scorchers | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  7. ^ "Ola Magnell: Gaia". Ola Magnell Website. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
  8. ^ "David Nelson Band: Visions Under the Moon". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
  9. ^ "Robin Williamson: Just Like the River and Other Songs for Guitar". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-04-03.

External linksEdit