“Never Heard of That in Baltimore….”


On the bootlegged Genuine Basement Tapes # 3 (a basement jam session between Bob Dylan and his original back-up group The Band), Rick Danko sings a fragment from a song entitled Ferdinand the Imposter. The Band was a Canadian group which may explain how they came to know about an obscure group of Spiritualists whose most notorious protest against compulsory state education consisted of the male adherents marching nude on the local seat of government. An estimated 20,000 Doukhobors still live in North America, the majority in southeastern British Columbia.

Got a message in the mail,
Ferdinand was thrown in jail.
I left the snow with Abigail,
Went on down to fix his bail.

They had him locked in a gunny sack,
His hands were tied behind his back.
He claimed he was a Doukhobor,
But they never heard of that in Baltimore.

The police said he’d better go home,
And he went back alone,
Back to the snow.

Still he done nobody wrong,
He knew he didn’t belong,
But he went along.
Lookin’ to see if there’s somebody,
Else he’d like to be,
Mainly free.

Lyrics from “Ferdinand the Imposter”, The Band, 1967. [Note: the song was included on a remastered (2000) version of their debut album Music From Big Pink.]