February 1, 2020

Drinkin’ Songs 2: Moonshiner by Bob Dylan

Recorded by Bob Dylan in 1963, Moonshiner has been recorded by numerous other artists over the years and there is some dispute over whether the song is an American or Irish folk song of unknown authorship.  Indeed, you can find versions of the song performed by the likes of folk legends The Clancy Brothers and others. Interestingly, the lyrics of Moonshiner can vary widely depending on the version and the artist.  The meaning of the song is pretty self-evident and requires little interpretation.  My favorite lyrics are the Dylan version and my favorite performance of the song  is the Uncle Tupelo version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppiol9oetOk, followed by the Redbird version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ_W3l6uHFA.

Here are the lyrics from the Uncle Tupelo version: 

I’ve been a moonshiner
For seventeen long years
I’ve spent all my money 
On whiskey and beer

I go to some hollow
And sit at my still 
And if whiskey don’t kill me
Then I don’t know what will

I go to some barroom
And drink with my friends
Where the women can’t follow 
And see what I spend

God bless them pretty women
I wish they was mine
Their breath is as sweet
The dew on the vine

Let me eat when I am hungry
Let me drink when I am dry 
A dollar when I am hard-up 
Religion when I die

The whole world’s a bottle
And life’s but a dram
When the bottle gets empty
It sure ain’t worth a damn

(Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Jay Stuart Farrar / Jeff Tweedy

Moonshiner lyrics © BMG Rights Management)

Other versions come from Cat Power (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lx120yg_JDk) and Elliot Smith (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiQnwl51E9s).

Take a listen, tip a libation of your choice, pick your favorite version and let us know what you think!

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