Come with the Dust, Gone with the Wind

For some reason this morning, Bob Dylan’s “Song to Woody” (YouTube link has an unrelated Woodie Guthrie performance at the beginning) is stuck in my head. Particularly, this verse, which just strikes me as beautiful:

Here’s to Cisco an’ Sonny an’ Leadbelly too
An’ to all the good people that traveled with you
Here’s to the hearts and the hands of the men
That come with the dust and are gone with the wind
“Song to Woody” ©1962 Bob Dylan

This is what I love about Dylan: there’s an economy of meaning in his lyrics. We can extract more meaning from a line than is readily apparent. For example, “Here’s to the hearts and the hands of the men…” Why salute their hearts and their hands? Why not their minds or their souls? Dylan is saying that these are men of passion and hard work.

But what really got me curious was the phrase “…gone with the wind.” It seemed like it was either referencing or sharing a reference of Margaret Mitchell’s pre-war best-seller, “Gone with the Wind.”

I did a little googling. I think the reference is to a metrically identical song from — of course — Woody Guthrie that was copyrighted just a few years earlier:

I worked in your orchards of peaches and prunes
I slept on the ground in the light of the moon
On the edge of the city you’ll see us and then
We come with the dust and we go with the wind
“Pastures of Plenty” ©1960 Woodie Guthrie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *