‘Shut Softly Your Watery Eyes . . .’

Originally posted October 30, 2007

Not quite two months ago, I wrote about Bobby Jameson and his version of “The Weight,” the Robbie Robertson song that sits high in my list of favorite songs. At the same time, I shared Bobby’s 1969 album Working!, on which he released his version of the song.

A friend of his left a comment and a link to a MySpace page set up for Bobby. I was a little concerned about Bobby’s reaction to my having shared his album, especially considering that his two earlier albums were in print on CD and – from what I read – Bobby hasn’t been getting any compensation for that. Bobby’s friend promised to check with him, and a few days later, the singer himself left a very complimentary comment here and then sent me a link to his own MySpace page.

Since then, every couple of weeks or so, I get a note from Bobby, and I stop by his page once a week or so. And shortly after we connected, he offered to send me his version of Bob Dylan’s “To Ramona,” an unreleased song from his 1969 sessions for Working!

He did so last evening, and I’ve been listening to it ever since.

It’s very clear from the general sound that it’s from the Working! sessions. Bobby said that GRT pulled it from the record because of its length of 4:04. That may have seemed excessive in 1969, but listening now, it hardly seems to get started before it’s over.

Amid the swirling strings and the soft punctuation provided by the horns, Bobby’s voice – as world-weary as it was on the tracks that were released on Working! – comes sliding out of the speakers, the vocal becoming a little more intense, but no less weary, as the song goes on. Finally, the song ends with what sounds like a combination of anguish and resignation:

“And someday, maybe,
“Who knows, baby,
“I’ll come a-crying to you.”

Although I’m sure Bobby has played it for friends over the years, his version of “To Ramona” has, for the most part, been waiting thirty-eight years. I’m honored and touched that he sent it to me so I could share it here.

Thanks, Bobby.

Bobby Jameson – “To Ramona” [1969]

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