06 November 2013

Is There Anything Bob Doesn't Know?

In the still of the night, in the world's ancient light
Where wisdom grows up in strife
My bewilderin' brain, toils in vain
Through the darkness on the pathways of life

Each invisible prayer is like a cloud in the air
Tomorrow keeps turnin' around
We live and we die, we know not why
But I'll be with you when the deal goes down

We eat and we drink, we feel and we think
Far down the street we stray
I laugh and I cry, and I'm haunted by
Things I never meant nor wished to say

The midnight rain follows the train
We all wear the same thorny crown
Soul to soul, our shadows roll
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

Well, the moon gives light and it shines by night
When I scarcely feel the glow
We learn to live and then we forgive
O'er the road we're bound to go

More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours
That keep us so tightly bound
You come to my eyes like a vision from the skies
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

Well, I picked up a rose and it poked through my clothes
I followed that winding stream
I heard the deafening noise, I felt transient joys
I know they're not what they seem

In this earthly domain, full of disappointment and pain
You'll never see me frown
I owe my heart to you and that's sayin' it true
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

--Bob Dylan - When The Deal Goes Down


X said...

He doesn't know how to sing.

dulac90 said...

Or when to quit.

thetimman said...


Long-Skirts said...

Anonymous X said...

"He doesn't know how to sing."

...but others do!


“They have abandoned the Fort, those
who should have defended it.” (St. John Fisher)

Who held the Fort
Till the Calvary came
Fighting for all
In His Holy Name?

Who fed the sheep
As the pastures burned dry
A few Good Shepherds
Heeding their cry?

Who led the charge
‘Gainst heresy’s Huns
Defending the degreed
To His lowliest ones?

Who battened down
The hatch of the barque
To warm cold souls
From shivering-seas dark?

“Who?” mocks Satan
Delighting in doubt
Fills you with questions,
Never lets you find out.

“Hoc est enum
Corpus meum…
and for many…” who kept
The dead words – Te Deum!

StGuyFawkes said...

The strangest thing about Bob Dylan is that he has never been the consistent target of parody. In the movie "Walk Hard", actor John C. Reilly did a fine job of recreating the hollowness of a Dylan song lyric, and he punctured the pretentiousness of Dylan's mannerisms.

My question is why wasn't Dylan a constant target during he '70s and '80s which were also the hey day of Saturday Night Live?
The only answer is celebrity idolatry.

On the other hand, about every fifth song, Bob Dylan writes in a lucid and truly beautiful vein. His imagining of a prostitute on death row, entitled "Any Day Now" is suffused with Christian feeling for the hope of redemption. The lyrics of "Hey Tamborine Man" expresses the deranged transcendence of a liquor binge. It rivals Rimbaud.

Speaking of Arthur Rimbaud I think most of Dylan's better lyrics and his worst droops into excess and loopiness come from his youthful infatuation with the poetry of Rimbaud.

In Anthony Scaduto's 1971 biography he tells of Bob's New Orleans's phase when he read Rimbaud and swore that all his lyrics would be like his new model.

I believe "Mr. Tamborine Man" is a tribute to Rimbaud's "The Drunken Boat."

It is also a great example of Rimbaud's doctrine of poetry being about "the disassociation of the senses." Note that in "Mr. Tamborine Man" Dylan says at the end of the night in his transcendent drunkenness "my senses have been stripped."

On the other hand, the model of poetry perpetrated by Arthur Rimbaud came in for heavy comment by T.S. Eliot in his famous treatise "Tradition and the Individual Talent" which places Rimbaud (and Dylan) at the center of all the world's troubles.

Jane Chantal said...

...majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
And for each and every underdog soldier in the night
And we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

-- the best bit from my fave Dylan song, "The Chimes of Freedom"

Imo his singing is dreadful. The Byrds performed miracles with his songs, and he ought to thank God for them with every breath he takes.

I can't decide whether parodists of the '70s and '80s left him pretty much alone because his celebrity had waned sharply by that time (he was off the radar for a while after an accident, then came back with a very different sound accompanied by a much lower public profile), or because there is something about his persona that just is incredibly intimidating. Heaven knows, he deserved to be parodied -- which is not to say that he isn't massively gifted.

StGuyFawkes said...

To Jane Chantal et aliae et alios,

I hear you on the weird lack Dylan parodies. Don't know why either but to speculate on this opens up a whole chapter in American popular culture.

I think Dylan had become a kind of left or liberal icon and it would have seemed sacrilegious to make fun of him. Imagine someone making fun of Woody Guthrie or Phil Ochs.

You can't can you? I wonder why?

A look at the life in parody of Joan Baez, his friend, sheds some light.

Baez was also parody proof except in two isolated cases. The conservative cartoonist Al Capp, the author of "L'il Abner" created a character named "Joanie Phony" who sang dreadful songs, and never bathed judging by Capp's depiction of flies swarming around her armpits.

One and only one parody of of the uber left Joan Baez exists. In the Harvard Lampoon stage production entitled "Lemmings" a wonderful woman whose look and voice was almost exactly Joan's sang a parody of Baez' George Jackson Black Panther tribute.

The song was a send up of 60's liberals who just adored Black Panthers. The song was entitled "Pull the Triggers Niggers."

It can be found on YouTube.

Baez suffered this insult just about the time "The National Lampoon" published it's famous cover entitled "IS NOTHING SACRED" which depicted the familiar poster of Che Guevara with a custard pie on his face.

All this goes to my thesis that Dylan's inviolability comes from a kind of religious impulse that surfaces whenever mainstream religious faith in Catholicism or Protestantism is suppressed and the pagan impulse to idolize anything, rocks, trees, goats grows and grows.

St. Guy

thetimman said...

Dylan is thoroughly Carholic. He is not a leftist, though those who checked out on him in 1970 may no know it.

And, his singing voice, in my opinion, is great.


StGuyFawkes said...

Dear Timman,

I presume by Carholic you meant Catholic.

I'll leave it to you to show his Catholicism. As for his political views I have nothing to say.

I did not mean to say HE was a leftist. I meant that the left wanted to see him that way. (In fact part of his problem after his accident was that the left read their politics onto his lyrics and were disappointed to find out that he wanted nothing of it.)

thetimman said...

No, I meant Carholic.