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Arts & Life

6 Bob Dylan Songs That Reference Kansas City, Wichita, Kansas Or Missouri

Rowland Scherman
National Archives and Records Administration
Bob Dylan in 1963.

Bob Dylan, who won the Nobel Prize for literature this morning — "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition" —has written a lot of words, about a lot of places. In honor of his accomplishments, however, we can't help being proud that a few of those words indicate he's been thinking about us.

1. "High Water (For Charley Patton)," from 2001's Love and Theft

First verse:

High water risin’ — risin’ night and day
All the gold and silver are bein' stolen away
Big Joe Turner lookin’ east and west
From the dark room of his mind
He made it to Kansas City
Twelfth Street and Vine
Nothin' standing there
High water everywhere


2. "Meet me in the Morning," from 1975's Blood on the Tracks

If the narrator's love interest meets him in the morning at 56th and Wabasha, they can be in Kansas "before the snow begins to thaw":

3. "Trying to Get to Heaven," from 1997's Time Out of Mind

The narrator doesn't fare much better in Missouri than he did in Kansas:

When I was in Missouri
They would not let me be
I had to leave there in a hurry.

He sings the state's name in a particularly agonized voice in this late-Dylan live version:

4. "Wichita Blues (Going to Louisiana)," from 1963's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

In which the singer, feeling destroyed by the weather in the titular town and fearing a case of tuberculosis, flees Kansas:

5. “Kansas City,” from 2014's Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes

Lyrics by Dylan, music by Marcus Mumford, the city referenced throughout.

6. "Six Months in Kansas City (Liberty Street)," also from 2014's Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes

By Dylan and Elvis Costello. Based on the chorus, six months in our town brings disaster.

Because Dylan wrote so many words, we've undoubtedly missed other references to the region. Don't hate us; let us know.

C.J. Janovy is an arts reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can find her on Twitter, @cjjanovy.

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