Guitar Tabs, Chords and Lyrics
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It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry  Bob Dylan

Original album version
Capo 1st fret (original key Ab major)
The G - C/G - G (320003 - 3x2013 - 320003) pattern goes through the whole song. One could play just a sustained G as well. The change of this pattern that I've indicated in lines 2 and 4 is mainly to get an approximation to what the second guitar plays there. Likewise, in the last line there seems to be very little activity - maybe there should be just a G all through it.
In later years, the song has been played as a slow, electric blues.
Intro and recurring riff:
 
 . : . . .
 |---|---------3-------------3-|-
 |---|---------1-------------1-|-
 |---|-------0---0-----------0-|- etc.
 |---|-0---0-2---2-0---0-2---2-|-
 |-0-|-2---2-x---x-2---2-x---x-|-
 |-0-|-3---3-3---3-3---3-3---3-|-

Well, I [G]ride on a [C/G]mailtrain, [G]baby,[C/G]
[G7] Can't [C/G]buy a [G]thrill.[C/G] [G] [C/G] [G]
Well, [C/G]I've been [G]up a[C/G]ll n[G]ight,[C/G]
[G]Leanin' on the [C/G]window [G]sill.
Well, [G]if I [G7(/F)]die
On [C/E]top of the [D]hill[Dsus4] [D]
And [G]if [C/G]I don't [G]make[C/G] it,
[G] You [C/G]know my [G]ba[C/G]by [G]will.
Don't the moon look good, mama,
Shinin' through the trees?
Don't the brakeman look good, mama,
Flagging down the "Double E"?
Don't the sun look good
Goin' down over the sea?
Don't my gal look fine
When she's comin' after me?
Now the wintertime is coming,
The windows are filled with frost.
I went to tell everybody,
But I could not get across.
Well, I wanna be your lover, baby,
I don't wanna be your boss.
Don't say I never warned you
When your train gets lost.
No Direction Home version
Well, I ride on a mailtrain, mama,
Can't buy no thrill.
I've been up all night, baby,
Leanin' on the window sill.
But if I die
On top of the hill
And if I don't make it,
You know my baby will.
Ah, don't the sun look good, baby,
Coming down through the trees?
Don't the ghost child look good, mama,
Sittin' on this mad-man's knee?
Don't the moon look good
Goin' down over the sea?
Don't my gal look fine
When she's runnin' after me?
Well I just been to the baggage room
where the engineer he's been tossed
Oh, I stamped on 40 compasses,
God knows what they cost
Well, I wanna be your lover, baby,
I don't wanna be your boss.
And I can't help it
if this train gets lost.
Bootleg Series version
Uptempo electric blues with Dylan at the piano (presumably – it sounds
like him, and none of the guitars do). The most appropriate way to
play it on a guitar would be with a capo on the 4th fret (or with
barré chords), as in the following tab.
The accompaniment figure would then be:
 
 |-------------------------|--------------------------|
 |-------------------------|--------------------------|
 |-------------------------|--------------------------|
 |-------------------------|--------------------------|
 |-2-----2-----4-----4-----|-5-----5-----4-----4------|
 |-0-----0-----0-----0-----|-0-----0-----0-----0------|

The solo guitar plays this little lick at the end of each two-bar
period (during the E-E6-E7-E6, that is):
 
 . . : .
 ------------------|------------
 ------------------|------------
 ------------------|------------
 ---b8r6---4-------|------------
 ------------6---4-|-6----------
 ------------------|------------

(b8r6 means that the string is struck in bent position, two semitones,
as if played on the 8th fret, then released to normal position, on the
6th fret).
Well, I [E]ride on a [E6]mailtrain, [E7]baby,[E6]
E E6 E7 E6 |: E E6 E7 E6 :|
Can't buy no thrill.
Yes, I've been [E]up all[E6] night, [E7]baby[E6]
E E6 E7 E6 |: E E6 E7 E6 :|
Leanin' on the window sill.
Yes, but [E]if I [E7/D]die
On [A/C#]top of the [B]hill
And if[E] I[E6] don't [E7]make it,[E6]
E E6 E7 E6 |: E E6 E7 E6 :| x4
You know my baby will.
Bangla Desh Concert version
Great (almost) solo acoustic version, played at the Concert for Bangla
Desh, Aug 1, 1971 (Us release Dec 20, 1971)
Chords:
 
 Intro and recurring riff: "Can't buy a thrill" figure:
 
 G C/G G C/G G G/D Eo' D7
 : . . . : . . .
 |-3---3-3---3-3---3-3---3-| |-------------------------|-3--- the bass plays an
 |-0---0-1---0-0---0-1---0-| |-3---3-3---3-2-----1-----|-0--- ascending d-e-f#-g here)
 |-0---0-0---0-0---0-0---0-| |-4---4-4---4-3-----2-----|-0---
 |-0---0-2---0-0---0-2---0-| |-0-----------0-----0-----|-0--- etc.
 |-2---2-----2-2---2-----2-| |-------------------------|-2---
 |-3---3-3---3-3---3-3---3-| |-------------------------|-3---
 can't buy a thrill
 "Top of the hill" figure:
 
 : . . . . . : . . . : . . .
 |-3-----------3-----------0-----------|-2---2-2---2-3---3-3---3-|-5-5-5-5---5-2---2-2---2-|
 |-0-----------0-----------1-----------|-3---3-3---3-3---3-3---3-|-3-3-3-3---3-3---3-3---3-|
 |-0-----------0-----------0-----------|-2---2-2---2-4---4-4---4-|-5-3-5-5---5-2---2-2---2-|
 |-0-----------0-----------2-----------|-0---0-0---0-0---0-0---0-|-0---0-0---0-0---0-0---0-|
 |-2-----------2-----------3-----------|---------------------------------------------------|
 |-3-----------1-----------0-----------|---------------------------------------------------|
 If I die on top of the hill

Well, I [G]ride a mailtrain, baby,
G/D Eo' D7 G
Can't buy a thrill.
Well, I've been [G]up all night,
G/D Eo' D7 G
Leanin' on the window sill.
Well, [G]if I [G7/F]die
On [C/E]top of the [D]hill[G/D(iii)] [D7(iii)] [D]
And if [G]I don't make it,
You know my [G/D]baby[D7] wil[G]l.
A variant for the “can't buy a thrill” figure in subsequent verses is:
 
 |-7---7-7---7-6---6-5---5-|-3--
 |-------------------------|-0--
 |-7---7-7---7-6---6-5---5-|-0-- etc.
 |-0---0-0---0-0---0-0---0-|-0--
 |-------------------------|-2--
 |-------------------------|-3--

Rolling Thunder Revue version
See the Bangla Desh version for intro and recurring riff and for the
basic outline of the “top of the hill” figure.
Well, I [G]ride a mailtrain, baby,
[G] Can't [C]buy [C]a [G]thrill.
Well, I've been [G]up all night,
[G]Leanin' on the [C]win[C]dow [G]sill.
G G7/F *) *) could be played G7sus4/F (xx3013)
Well, if I die or plain F instead
On [C/E]top of the [D]hill[G/D(iii)] [D7(iii)] [D]
And if [G]I don't make it,
You know my [C]ba[C]by [G]will.
Tabbed by Eyolf Østrem - dylanchords.info

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A/C# B C C/E C/G D D7 Dsus4 E E6 E7 E7/D G G/D G7 G7/F
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