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Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues / Highway 61 Revisited / 1965

When you're lost in the rain in Juarez
And it's eastertime too
And your gravity fails
And negativity don't pull you through
Don't put on any airs
When your're down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They've got some hungry women there
And they really make a mess out'a you

Juarez, Mexico (full name: Ciudad Juarez "Juarez City") lies just accress the border from El Paso Texas. Now, thanks to NAFTA, etc., a rather booming industrial center, it has long had a well-deserved reputation as a classic "border town," celebrated for its bars, brothels, and various other sorts of flesh pots.
Certainly more than one gringo has found him or herself "lost in the rain there.."

Date:          Tue, 1 Aug 1995 15:36:11 -0500
Subject:       Dylan Atlas Juarez
From:          ola oskarsson (

Juarez in my opinion probably was put in instead of the
original word worries. And it sure helped.

Here is how I think it was written originally 
      "When you're lost in the rain in worries".

But to avoid cornyness he disguised it as Juarez later. 
Check the rest of the text to see that "worries"
is closer to the juvenile poetic tradition of the 
rest of the verse. 

By the way this is one of my favourites. The mood, the mood..........

Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 20:20:51 +0100 From: Nicola (walkingquot@141.COM) Juarez is mentioned in the second part of J. Kerouac's "On the road", when Sal is travelling from New Orleans to Frisco. Crossing Texas, he can see the light of Juarez and outside it's raining. Subject: Re: Lost in the Rain in Juarez From: Andra ( Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 13:43:14 -0500 Organization: Duke University, Durham, NC, USA On Wed, 13 Nov 1996, Nicola wrote: > Juarez is mentioned in the second part of J. Kerouac's "On the road", > when Sal is travelling from New Orteans to Frisco. Crossing Texas, he > can see the light of Juarez and outside it's raining. Is it enough to > think of a quotation? References to Juarez, from _On_the_Road_, Penguin, 1991 ed.: pg. 162 "Straight ahead lay the distant lights of El Paso and Juarez, sown in a tremendous valley so big that you could see several railroads puffing at the same time in every direction, as though it was the Valley of the World. We descended into it." pg. 163 "Across the river were the jewel lights of Juarez and the sad dry land and the jewel stars of Chihuahua." This takes place in very early January, 1949. Though not "Eastertime," definitely a holiday season. As Nicola pointed out, it's raining in both scenes. I'm beginning to note some similarities... Although this is not THE trip to Mexico (that comes in Part 3), "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," and the Mexican trip present many of the same images and concepts. As I think back about this book, the trips tend to run together, and it is reasonable to think that the trips would have run together in Dylan's mind as well. So I suppose there's no reason why this song could not have references to both the trip down south very near Mexico (the town name of Juarez and the weather/atmosphere), and the one actually to Mexico. One of the first things that Sal, Dean, and Stan did when they crossed the border was Mexico was go to a whorehouse. "Tom Thumb's Blues" includes several references to prostitutes (Angel, Sweet Melinda). But I think the greatest evidence of similarities comes in the last verse: "I started out on burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff, Everybody said they'd stand behind me when the game got rough, But the joke was on me there was nobody even there to call my bluff, I'm going back to New York City, I didn't even had enough." These lines could have very well come straight from Sal's mouth (ok, well probably not as a rhyme, but the same content nevertheless). Sal probably assumed that he, Dean, and Stan would stay together for the duration of the trip, but alas "when the game got rough" (Sal came down with dysentery), Dean took off. Just like that--without warning, Dean announced one day that he was leaving for the states within a few hours. When Sal recovered, though he "didn't even had [sic] enough" of the kicks he was expecting to have in Mexico, he left for New York. Now before I realized the connection of "Tom Thumb's Blues" with _On_the_Road_, I always assumed that the line, "I started out on burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff," meant that he (or the "I," whomever that would be), started out drinking, then progressed to some harder drugs. But in the context of the lines that follow, and the likely connections to _On_the_Road_, perhaps Dylan is saying that "I" started out drinking with friends, but after a bit things turned for the worse. The friendships became more complicated--for one reason or another, something changed. The friendship headed for harder and more complex issues. Now, I'm not suggesting that "Tom Thumb's Blues" is just a retelling of _On_the_Road_, or even has a great deal to do with it. But the song clearly shows that Dylan not only read the book, but that he was influenced enough by it that he chose mix images from the novel into the song. Andra
Subject: Re: Lost in the rain in Juarez From: Nicola (walkingquot@141.COM) Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 19:48:41 +0100 ... Yes, Juarez is mentioned in Tristessa, BUT IT'S NOT THE CITY, IT'S THE NAME OF THE WHISKEY the main character is holding in his hand. It's raining, but the town is Mexico City. Again, On the road seems the best Kerouac's book to relate the song to.
Subject: Tom Thumb, Juarez and the bordertowns of despair From: CHRISTOPHER ROLLASON Date: Mon, 16 Dec 1996 19:37:15 GMT Organization: Francenet -- Paris, France X-Newsreader: Forte Free Agent 1.0.82 Following recent queries and comments about 'Tom Thumb's Blues' and Juarez (properly Ciudad Juarez, with an acute accent on the a) in Mexico, rmd folk might care to note an article which appeared in UK newspaper The Guardian on 13 Dec 1996 (p. 10): The article is entitled 'Touch of Evil'. It consists, in fact, entirely of a long quotation from an article by Charles Bowden in 'Harper's Magazine' (no date or other credits given). The extract begins: 'The cities of Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas, constitute the largest border community on earth, but hardly anyone seems to admit that the Mexican side exists.' It adds such details as: 'In November and December, there is a bumper crop of drug murders as the merchandise moves north and accounts are settled. Then around Christmas people hang themselves ... Spring means battles between neighbourhoods (or colonias) over ground for building shacks as well as outbreaks of disease in a city largely lacking sewage treatment. Summer brings water problems to a head, more disease and a batch of murders by the street gangs.'. **** So it may be 30 years+ since Dylan wrote 'Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues', but it looks as if his picture of this border city was sociologically quite accurate - 'Housing Project Hill', 'Rue Morgue Avenue', blackmailing authorities and the rest ... All of which is interesting for the whole border theme in Dylan's work ('the border towns of despair' ...) Chris Christopher Rollason Metz, France 'but would not change my free thoughts for a throne' (Byron)
Expecting Rain