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Jones, Mr

Ballad Of A Thin Man /  Highway 61 Revisited / 1965

Because something is happening here
And you don't know what it is, do you, Mister Jones

Bob Dylan muse, RIT professor dies at 63 (November 13, 2007) — Jeffrey Owen Jones, a film professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and, inadvertently, the featured metaphor in Bob Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man," has died.
Mon, 6 Feb 1995

The "Who's Who" section of your Dylan page doesn't mention that "Mr. Jones" almost certainly refers to Jeffrey Jones, the Village Voice reporter. See "All Across The Telegraph", Michael Gray and John Bauldie, ed (Sidgwick)

See also thin man.

Ron Taylor (
I read an interesting article years ago by a man (name long since buried in oblivion) who claimed that perhaps he was Mr Jones. His story, in short, was that he was a jounalism major at an Ivy League school who got into Dylan's trailor for an interview prior to a concert. This person was real straight at the time and was ill at ease among Dylan and his ensemble. Sounds plausible; could also have been a compliation of characters including that poor sot Dylan trashed in "Don't Look Back".

Susan (
That's sounds a little bit like a rumor created in a newsroom. But as a reporter it would be nice to be immortalized by Dylan, don't get me wrong. i just wonder if anyone made that up.

Ron Taylor (fatron@IX.NETCOM.COM):
Roger Hand wrote to tell me that a writer for the Village Voice, Jeffrey Jones, wrote the referenced article. He also said that Dylan acknowledged this fact from the stage during a concert in New York during the 80's.
Me? I'm willing to believe everything and nothin; when everything's broken, you got too much of nothin. I think Abe Lincoln said that!

Date: Sat, 15 Apr 1995 17:51:02 -0400
From: Jim Goldman (JimGPhynn@AOL.COM)
Subject: Ballad of a thin man

Maziar Sadri wrote:
- Could someone please explain this song to me, I'm a young Dylan fan - and for the last week I've listened to this song at least fifty times - but I still cant figure it out.

First off, because you are a young Dylan fan, we won't hurt you TOO badly in terms of your misspelling of the name DylAn...

Mr. Jones is certainly one of Dylan's greatest images... I cannot speak for anyone else, but there are times when I feel a lot like Mr. Jones...

I shall quote Robert Shelton, in his bio of Dylan, No Direction Home (c) 1985...

"Mister Jones, one of Dylan's greatest archetypes, is a Philistine, an observer who does not see, a person who does not reach for the right questions. He piously pays his social dues through self-serving tax deductions, pays to watch freak shows but doesn't like the entertainment, is superficially educated and well bred but not very smart about the things that count..."

In the song Yer Blues, by the Beatles, (from the white album) John Lennon wails, "Feel so suicidal, just like Dylan's Mister Jones." More recently, Counting Crows scored a big hit with their song, "Mister Jones," which may be a continuation of the freak show image in the song Thin Man... They even sing, "I wanna be Bob Dylan. Mr. Jones wishes he were someone just a little more funky..."

Who is Mr. Jones? Possibly a journalist. Possibly a lawyer. Possibly just about anyone whom we might meet.

Shall we debate who, in specific, Bob had in mind when he wrote it? I'm torn between Joan Baez and Phil Ochs... Does anyone else have any ideas?


Date:    Tue, 28 Nov 1995 20:29:19 -0500
From:    "Steven Mazur (sar)" (mazur@VIRTU.SAR.USF.EDU)
Subject: Ballad of a Positively Plain Man

        While recently wandering about in my local video store (okay, so I was Blockbuster) I happened upon a collection of six movies
entitled "The Thin Man Series."  Always on the lookout for potential Bob
connections, I picked up one of the boxes and had a look.
        What I found was a group of movies (the last of which,
interestingly enough, is entitled "The Song of the Thin Man") dating back
to the 1940's starring William Powell as Nick, a detective of some type.
        My interest was won (though, ultimately, not enough to shell out
the bucks and rent one of the movies) by the picture of Nick, a very
proper looking (read: tight) Prufrock of a man: well-groomed, formal
attire, gazing off camera with some Vivian Leigh looking actress under the
soft-haloed glow of Hollywood lights.  Anyway, I read the cover (always
the best way to judge a piece of work) and discovered that the movies were
typical whodunnit mysteries, apparently solved by Nick, our well-mannered
protagonist who is never foiled.  But the descriptions of some of the
characters also intrigued me; for instance, I seem to recall some type of
"goon" as well as "the world's most paranoid man" (my memory may be in
error, but I think the descriptions were something to this effect).
        My question is, did these films serve as any source of inspiration
for our maniacal young Bob to write "Ballad of a Thin Man?"  I realize, of
course, that the prime resource for the song is the 50's song "Along Came
Jones" by the Coasters, with the refrain about "long lean lanky Jones."
Still, I can't help but notice certain similarities between the song and
this soap opera series.  Aside from what I've mentioned above, isn't Mr.
Jones acting as a detective of sorts?  The difference being that in
Dylan's mid-sixties freakish, youthful revolutionary underground, the thin
man is stumped, baffled, confused, and, in the end, alienated.  Anyone out
there have any guesses?  Sorry I spent so much time on one little
question; I just like entertaining my thoughts.  ;)

                                                --Steven Mazur

"Remember, when you're out there trying to heal the sick, that you must
always first forgive them."

Subject: Re: Mr.Jones From: Alan Fraser ( Date: 1 Sep 1998 08:33:23 -0700 In article , "Alec says... > >I've always been under the impression that this song (Ballad of a Thin Man) >was written with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones in mind. >Indeed I saw an interview on tv many years ago where it was said that Brian >really took this song really badly and in some way it contributed to his >suicide. >Is this generally accepted these days? >I can't remember the programme or the person who made the claim, but it was >somebody who was around at the time (Chas Chandler?) and it was some kind >of documentary...possibly about the Stones. >Any ideas/comments? >Alec Jeffrey Jones of the Village Voice, who attended Newport 65 and wrote a critical review of Bob's going electric, is thought by many to be the target. Jones himself certainly felt this, and Bob confirmed it in 1978 (I think) when he introduced the song as having been written for a reporter on the Village Voice. That having been said, the song is much wider in scope, although this seems to have been the motive that started Bob writing this one... There are many interpretations of the song, and some are collected at Look for the Index of Compiled Threads and select Ballad Of A Thin Man. Alan
"Horace Judson aka Mr. Jones was my Prof!

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