Originally appeared on Safe As Milk

Long before song before song blues
Babbette baboon [repeat] abba zaba zoom
Two shadows at Noon, Babbette baboon [repeat]
Comin’ over pretty soon, Babbette baboon
Run, run, catch her soon, draft of dawn, sunshine on Babbette baboon
Mother say son, she say son, you can’t lose, with the stuff you use
Abba Zaba go-zoom Babbette baboon [repeat both]
Run, run, morning soon, Indian dream, tiger moon
Yellow bird fly high, tabacco sky, two shadows at noon
Babbette baboon gonna catch her soon Babbette baboon
Song before song before song blues
Babbette baboon abba zaba zoom [repeat both]
Two shadows at noon, abba zaba zoom
Gonna zaba her soon Babbette baboon abba zaba zoom [repeat]
Gonna catch her soon [repeat]

(1967)

Song info

The following was passed on by Gary Marker who was able to recall a few details about what Don had written down at the time:

  • “Long before song before song blues” was originally “Song before song before song blues”
  • “Run, run, catch her soon” was written down as “Run, run, catch her up soon”
  • “Two shadows at noon” was written down as “2 shadas at noon”

Please read Gary’s notes for a full explanation of the song.

John French wrote this on Facebook in 2016:

Coming up on the 96th anniversary of the birth of Ravi Shankar, I was reminded about the middle section of “Abba Zaba.” I had mentioned I liked sitar music to Don Van Vliet when I spoke with him after a local performance previous to my entrance into the band. He told me to listen Ravi Shankar, so I ordered one of his albums from the local record shop. I used to play it about once a week, as I loved the sustain and the sympathetic resonance of the instrument. After we moved as a group to Laurel Canyon, during the “Safe as Milk” sessions, I had put the album on and Don said, “he has so many great lines. For instance, listen to the one on cut three at about …” and I kept trying different areas and he finally said, “yeah! Leave it on there!” So, we listened and he said, “here it comes!” He then sort of “drew in the air” as the line came on, using kind of a sideways figure eight — the symbol of infinity.
“Isn’t that a great line?” I was amazed he could pick that out of an eighteen-minute improvisational piece. “I want to put that in the middle of Abba Zabba,” he said. So, I recorded it on a bit of tape and the guys learned it. It became the section that begins , “Run, Run, Morning soon…”

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