Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)

Bob Dylan

[Verse 1]
Everybody’s building the big ships and the boats
Some are building monuments
Others, jotting down notes
Ev’rybody’s in despair
Every girl and boy
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
Ev’rybody’s gonna jump for joy
Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

[Verse 2]
I like to do just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet
But guarding fumes and making haste
It ain’t my cup of meat
Everybody’s neath the trees
Feeding pigeons on a limb
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
All the pigeons gonna run to him
Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

[Verse 3]
A cat’s meow and a cow’s moo, I can recite them all
Just tell me where it hurts yuh, honey
And I’ll tell you who to call
Nobody can get no sleep
There’s someone on ev’ryone’s toes
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
Ev’rybody’s gonna wanna doze
Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

So I have read the entire lyrics to this song, made most famous under the title Mighty Quinn by the English pop group Manfred Mann in 1967 because of the single line: “I like my sugar sweet”. This is a song that also became a favorite encore for the Grateful Dead starting around 1985 and played on occasion until Garcia’s death in 1995.

The song has its own Wikipedia page and that page along with several other sources states that the thrust of the song is “despair into joy, chaos into rest and attracts attention to animals”. Dylan himself has described it as nothing more than a nursery rhyme.

I always found it a bit ironic to hear Garcia sing “I like my sugar sweet” since he was a diabetic and that was most likely never addressed appropriately by him and may have contributed to his death from cardiac arrest in 1995. And there was of course the intermittent heroin addiction that may have distracted him from getting care for health issues he had.

I am certainly someone who also likes his sugar sweet. The past two years I have been officially diagnosed with diabetes have been most difficult because of the need to give up sweets. I love me some sugar and still fall off the wagon on occasion and head for the ice cream aisle at King Soopers, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Whole Foods or Natural Grocers – I am not picky. This started young for me with my frequently helping one of my aunt’s bake. Aunt Dorothy often let me lick the beaters clean when she was making a frosting consisting of lots of powdered sugar, butter and vanilla or spoon cake batter into my eager little mouth.

I do think though that sugar has gotten an inordinate amount of blame around diabetes. Sugar does not cause diabetes though it can aggravate the hell out of your blood sugars once you get it. I am firmly in the camp that believes the issue is insulin resistance. The problem is caused by fat, particularly animal fat clogging the insulin receptors on your muscle cells and this results then in glucose not getting transported into the cell to be utilized appropriately and it then builds up in your bloodstream.

I have provided a link to a short video by my diabetes guru Dr. Neil Barnard that explains this in easily understood terms:

In this short video I link to Barnard lays-out three steps to addressing diabetes: Step 1 no animal products, step 2 keep vegetable oils to a minimum and step three choose the healthiest foods those with the lowest glycemic index. Trust me this has not been easy for me though I do aspire to this way of eating and am really quite successful until about 7pm when the best of intentions seem to go straight to hell.

A strong word of caution here for anyone on any diabetes medicine who might try to follow this dietary advice make sure you let your physician knows before you start. You can get into life threatening low blood sugars very fast if the diabetes meds are continued. Even today if anyone who for some inexplicable reason might go through my garbage would soon realize “hey this guy sure likes his sugar sweet”.