Roots of Bob

Brownsville Girl

This is a response to Lou Reed's song "Doin' The Things That We Want To" in which there is a reference to Sam Shephard's play "Fool For Love". In a March 1985 interview with Bill Flanagan (available in the book "Written In My Soul", 1986) Dylan said that just as Reed's song opened with the narrator at the play, so the Shephard/Dylan song would open with the narrator at the movie.

A circulating outtake of this is titled "New Danville Girl", an allusion to the probable source of the chorus, the song "Danville Girl". This was done by, among others, Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston. The song concerns a man who is hoboing on a train, meets a girl, and leaves her to resume riding the rods.

One variant (there are dozens):

I got off at Danville
Got stuck on a Danville girl
You can bet your life she was a pearl
She wore that Danville curl 

"Danville Girl" was not only was an influence on "Brownsville Girl," it also gave rise to another song, Jimmie Rodger's classic 1920s train song, "Waiting for a Train". In Jimmie Rodgers' hands the above verse became

He put me off in Texas
A state i dearly love
The wide open spaces all around me
The moon and stars above

Thanks to Catherine Yronwode for pointing out the Jimmy Rodgers connection

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