We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
"Well, Frankie Lee and Judas Priest, They were the best of friends. So when Frankie Lee needed money one day, Judas quickly pulled out a roll of tens And placed them on a footstool Just above the plotted plain, Sayin', "Take your pick, Frankie Boy, My loss will be your gain."
Well, Frankie Lee, he sat right down And put his fingers to his chin, But with the cold eyes of Judas on him, His head began to spin. "Would ya please not stare at me like that," he said, "It's just my foolish pride, But sometimes a man must be alone And this is no place to hide."
Well, Judas, he just winked and said, "All right, I'll leave you here, But you'd better hurry up and choose Which of those bills you want, Before they all disappear." "I'm gonna start my pickin' right now, Just tell me where you'll be."
Judas pointed down the road And said, "Eternity!" "Eternity?" said Frankie Lee, With a voice as cold as ice. "That's right," said Judas Priest, "Eternity, Though you might call it 'Paradise.'"
"I don't call it anything," Said Frankie Lee with a smile. "All right," said Judas Priest, "I'll see you after a while."
Continue reading lyrics at link below...
"The Ballad Of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest," from John Wesley Harding. A rare performance from 2000, below, or, if you prefer, the original album version.
Well, Frankie Lee, he sat back down, Feelin' low and mean, When just then a passing stranger Burst upon the scene, Saying, "Are you Frankie Lee, the gambler, Whose father is deceased? Well, if you are, There's a fellow callin' you down the road And they say his name is Priest."
"Oh, yes, he is my friend," Said Frankie Lee in fright, "I do recall him very well, In fact, he just left my sight." "Yes, that's the one," said the stranger, As quiet as a mouse, "Well, my message is, he's down the road, Stranded in a house."
Well, Frankie Lee, he panicked, He dropped ev'rything and ran Until he came up to the spot Where Judas Priest did stand. "What kind of house is this," he said, "Where I have come to roam?" "It's not a house," said Judas Priest, "It's not a house . . . it's a home."
Well, Frankie Lee, he trembled, He soon lost all control Over ev'rything which he had made While the mission bells did toll. He just stood there staring At that big house as bright as any sun, With four and twenty windows And a woman's face in ev'ry one.
Well, up the stairs ran Frankie Lee With a soulful, bounding leap, And, foaming at the mouth, He began to make his midnight creep. For sixteen nights and days he raved, But on the seventeenth he burst Into the arms of Judas Priest, Which is where he died of thirst.
No one tried to say a thing When they took him out in jest, Except, of course, the little neighbor boy Who carried him to rest. And he just walked along, alone, With his guilt so well concealed, And muttered underneath his breath, "Nothing is revealed."
Well, the moral of the story, The moral of this song, Is simply that one should never be Where one does not belong. So when you see your neighbor carryin' somethin', Help him with his load, And don't go mistaking Paradise For that home across the road."
Thanks for posting, I've never seen or heard him do that in concert.
Roy, this song was on 1967's John Wesley Harding album, the first one he released after his motorcycle accident in upstate New York and self-imposed exile -- he was recording The Basement Tapes at roughly the same time as well, but those weren't released until 1975.
When Dylan released Slow Train Coming in 1979, heralding his "Christian Period," what all the resultant hoopla washed away was that Dylan has always used Biblical imagery and Christian, as well as Jewish, themes in his lyrics. It wasn't such a dramatic shift for him to profess Christianity -- more dramatic than it would be for, say, Mick Jagger to do so, less than for Van Morrison.
Dylan has said after his motorcycle crash, which came at a time of utter exhaustion at an artistic pinnacle -- he'd completed three of the finest rock albums anybody would record, a tour of England remembered today as one of the most incendiary and contentious tours in rock history, and he was on lots of drugs -- that he sat down and thought, well, things need to change.
The result was John Wesley Harding, a minimalist, almost country album (at a time when everyone else was following The Beatles into complex psychedelia a la Sgt. Pepper), followed by Nashville Skyline, an explicitly country album, and no touring, rare public appearances and basically a quiet life in Woodstock with Sarah and the kids.
I don't remember anybody commenting on the Christian or spiritual themes in the album as being unduly pronounced, maybe the Dylanologist knows that better than I do. It was simply accepted that Dylan had that searching, spiritual dimension to his writing, it didn't strike anyone as a particular departure when this song was released -- or its album companion piece, "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine."
Oh, one other note: For those who notice that John Wesley Harding has a different sound to it than other Dylan albums, it's probably because that's the only album Dylan ever recorded where he sat down and wrote words, then put music to them. His usual songwriting style is to come up with a guitar figure or progression he likes and put words to it.