“Ballad of a Thin Man” was written by American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bob Dylan, and appeared on his sixth album “Highway 61 Revisited”, which was released in August 1965.
“Ballad of a Thin Man” is a blues rock song written by Dylan and producer Bob Johnston. It details the journey of a man named Mr. Jones and his life as he gets himself into odd situations. In an interview with Nora Ephron and Susan Edmiston, they admitted that they questioned Dylan on the true identity of Mr. Jones: “He’s a real person. You know him, but not by that name… I saw him come into the room one night and he looked like a camel. He proceeded to put his eyes in his pocket. I asked this guy who he was and he said, ‘That’s Mr. Jones.’ Then I asked this cat, ‘Doesn’t he do anything but put his eyes in his pocket?’ And he told me, ‘He puts his nose on the ground.’ It’s all there, it’s a true story.” At a press conference in December 1965, Dylan admitted that Mr.Jones was a “pinboy – he also wears suspenders.” Speaking to an audience in Japan at his concert in March 1986, Dylan also revealed another aspect of the song’s meaning: “This is a song I wrote a while back in response to people who ask me questions all the time. You just get tired of that every once in a while. You just don’t want to answer no more questions. I figure a person’s life speaks for itself, right? So, every once in a while you got to do this kind of thing, you got to put somebody in their place… So this is my response to something that happened over in England. I think it was about ’63, ’64. [sic] Anyway the song still holds up. Seems to be people around still like that. So I still sing it. It’s called ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man’.”
There is no music video for the song, but the official audio on Dylan’s YouTube channel has 754 thousand views and counting, with 9.6 likes as of December 2020.
Release Date: 30th August 1965
Songwriter: Bob Dylan
Producer: Bob Johnston
Chart Rankings: “Ballad of a Thin Man” did not reach mainstream charts, however the song remains a firm favourite for many Bob Dylan fans.
The lyrics to “Ballad of a Thin Man” can be viewed here: LINK