Talkin New York is the second song on Bob Dylan’s eponymous first album. A talking blues, it describes his feelings on arriving in New York City, his time playing coffee houses in Greenwich Village and his life up to getting a record deal.

Bob Dylan Talkin New York In “Talkin New York,” Dylan borrowed one of Woody Guthrie’s favorite song structures, the talking blues. As is typical of the song type, Dylan writes a satirical tall tale recounting his adventures in the big city as he attempted to make it in the music business. While biographers would later have fun picking apart fact from fiction, “Talkin New York” was more about a young songwriter discovering his gift for turning everyday life into bizarre fiction than confessional songwriting.

Bob Dylan Talkin New YorkThe song takes a number of light jabs at the roots music scene centered in Greenwich Village in the early ’60s, where club owners rejected hillbillies as too authentic and paid a dollar a day to struggling harmonica players. “Talkin’ New York” is a good early example of Dylan’s humor, and a precursor to great songs like “Talkin’ World War III Blues” from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in 1963.


Rambling out of the wild West
Leaving the towns I love the best
Thought I’d seen some ups and downs
Till I come into New York town
People going down to the ground
Buildings going up to the sky

Wintertime in New York town
The wind blowing snow around
Walk around with nowhere to go
Somebody could freeze right to the bone
I froze right to the bone
New York Times said it was the coldest winter in seventeen years
I didn’t feel so cold then

I swung on to my old guitar
Grabbed hold of a subway car
And after a rocking, reeling, rolling ride
I landed up on the downtown side
Greenwich Village

I walked down there and ended up
In one of them coffee-houses on the block
Got on the stage to sing and play
Man there said, “Come back some other day
You sound like a hillbilly
We want folk singers here”

Well, I got a harmonica job, begun to play
Blowing my lungs out for a dollar a day
I blowed inside out and upside down
The man there said he loved them sound
He was raving about how he loved them sound
Dollar a day’s worth

And after weeks and weeks of hanging around
I finally got a job in New York town
In a bigger place, bigger money too
Even joined the union and paid my dues

Now, a very great man once said
That some people rob you with a fountain pen
It didn’t take too long to find out
Just what he was talkin’ about
A lot of people don’t have much food on their table
But they got a lot of forks ’n’ knives
And they got to cut something

So one morning when the sun was warm
I rambled out of New York town
Pulled my cap down over my eyes
And headed out for the western skies
So long, New York
Howdy, East Orange

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Bob Dylan – Talkin New York (Audio)
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