I’ve been meaning to record a version of this monumental song from Bob Dylan’s ‘Another side of’ for some time now.
To record it in order to honour a debt that I owe it’s writer. For this song, more than any other that I heard as a teenage songwriter, with it’s plaintive tale of heartbreak and despair, inspired me to try and put words to music.
‘To Ramona’ is a song that speaks not only of love and loss but of existential crisis. It is the portrait of someone ill in the world, a person unloved by circumstance and chance and loved and observed in turn, without the promise of that love being requited, by the writer himself.
How many times have we seen the suffering of someone we love so dearly and yet remained powerless to help? This song is a testament to the impotence that even love cannot overcome.
“I’d forever talk to you
But soon my words
They would turn into a meaningless ring
For deep in my heart
I know there is no help I can bring
Just do what you think you should do
And someday, maybe
Who knows, baby
I’ll come and be cryin’ to you.”
Certain lines from this song echoed with the clarity of chiming bells in my young mind helping me observe and come to terms with my own solitude and distance within the world. In a way, Dylan’s portrait of Ramona was a kind of mirror for me.
It’s melody my reflection, it’s sentiment my life.
Sometimes people say to me ‘that song you wrote is ‘me’, it’s about my life!’ There is no greater compliment to a song and no greater equaliser than to see ourselves in others. Songs like ‘to Ramona’ have this power. It helped me to help myself.
I sang it many times through veils of tears, tears I shed in tune to the ones cried by Ramona.
This song was a healing and a release.
“The pangs of your sadness will pass as your senses will rise”
I could write and write about this song but where words fast become inappropriate, I prefer simply to play it, without frills and fuss, thumbing the simple chords as I used to all those years ago. And in my voice, coiled within each precious word, I say ‘thank you’.
Thankyou to its maker, and thank you to life for being the maker’s maker and for being the place where all songs begin and end.