Tell Me, Momma

Written by Bob Dylan
Performed during the 1965/66 tour, and released on Live 1966
Tabbed by Eyolf Østrem (thanks to Andy for lyric suggestions)


The lyrics below differ considerably from the official lyrics on bobdylan.com, but not so considerably from what he actually sings live. There are some blanks, though. Suggestions and corrections are welcome.

The tuning and the playing style is interesting: on the song that was chosen to open the electrical pandemonium, he uses a tuning and a playing style from his earliest acoustic days.

Dropped D tuning (D-A-d-g-b-e'), capo 7th fret (sounding key A major)

D      000232
Dsus2  000030
D/c    030030
G      020033
Em     222000
F#m    444222

The rhythm isn't at all obvious in the introduction: his foot-tapping is on the off-beats, but when the band enters, the full rhythm pattern corresponds well with what the intro would have been with the foot-tapping as the beats.
This figure, with variations, is repeated for the intro, and played during the beginning of the verses:

  D                             D/c   D                             D9/f
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-2-------2-----2-|-2-----------0---|-2-------2-----2-|-2-----------0---|
|-3-------3-----3-|-3-----------3---|-3-------3-----3-|-3-----------3---|
|-2-------2-----2-|-3-----------0---|-2-------2-----2-|-2-----------0---|
|-0-------0-----0-|-0-----------0---|-0-------0-----0-|-0-------0---3---|
|-0-------0-----0-|-0-------0---3---|-0-------0-----0-|-0---------------|
|-0-------0-----0-|-0---------------|-0-------0-----0-|-0---------------|

The electric guitar plays with no capo, and with the following riff running through the song:

  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----5-----------|-5---------------|-----5-----------|-5---------------|---
|-----------5-----|-----------------|-----------5-----|-----------------|---
|-----------------|-------5b----5b--|-----------------|-------5b----5b--|---
|-----------------|-----------------|-7---------------|-----------------|-7-
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|---
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|---

D                 D/c  D              D/c
Cold black glass don't make no mirror
D                  D/c D             D/c
Cold black water don't make no tears
G
You say you love me with what may be love
D
Don't you remember makin' baby love?
Em
Yes, you got your steam drill,
           F#m
now you're lookin' for some kid
Em
To get it to work for you
          F#m
like your nine-pound hammer did
    D Dadd2     D   Dadd2     D G         D   Dadd2
But I know that you know that I know that you show
Em           F#m             A
Something is tearing up your mind.
D
Tell me, momma,

Tell me, momma,
                     Em
Tell me, momma, what is it?
       F#m                 D
What's wrong with you this time?
Black sun-glass [came here, pony run] *)
Tombstone babes, y'all can get it done
Fool's gold in your teeth and cementary hips
Get outside of your graveyard lips
Yes, everybody's wonderin'
when your friendship's gonna end
But come on, baby, I'm your friend!
And I know that you know that I know that you show
Something is tearing up your mind. **)
Tell me, momma,
Tell me, momma,
Tell me, momma, what is it?
What's wrong with you this time?
[Solo (without capo):]

  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----5-----------|-5---------------|----/5----/5-----|/5-----5---------|
|-----------5-----|-----------------|----/5----/5-----|/5---------------|
|-----------------|-------5b6---5b6-|-----------------|-------------5~~~|
|-----------------|-----------------|-7---------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----5-----------|-------------5---|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-7-----5---------|-----------------|-----------------|
|~~~--------6-----|-----------------|-----5b6---------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------7-----|-5---------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-------7-----7---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----7b8-8r7-5---|
|-----------------|-----------------|---------5-----5-|h7---------------|
|-----4---4p2---4-|-----4p2-----2h4-|/6---------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|---------2h4-----|-----------------|-----------------|
|-2---------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :       .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|-----2---------2-|---------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|---------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|---------2-------|--(4)b5-r4p2-2-------|
|-----4---4p2---4-|-----4p2-4p2-2---|-----------------|-----------------4---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|---------------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|---------------------|
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .    .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-------------2~~~|------------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|---------2~~~~~~~|-5----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----2~~~~~~~~~~~|------(4b)5r4p2-4-|b5r4-2---2-------|
|-----4---4p2---4~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|------------------|-------------4---|
|-4---------------|-----------------|------------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|------------------|-----------------|
Ohh, [you're pleasing?] but your face is red
That ain't he can't get it, he's almost dead.
Everybody sees you on your window ledge
How long's it gonna take for your to get off the edge
You just gonna make everybody jump and roar
Now, whatcha wanna go and do that for?
For I know that you know that I know that you know
Something is tearing up your mind.
Ah, tell me, momma,
Tell me, momma,
Tell me, momma, what is it?
What's wrong with you this time?

*) The end of the line is dubious, but in Liverpool (5/14) he clearly sings “pony run” somewhere. Sydney, Apr 13, 1966 has: “With your dark sun-glasses on your Babylon chest” (different continuation).

**) Sydney: “Sometimes / my time's / the right time / to go, / now, / what's resting on your mind?”