Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dylan on a Sunday

Most of the time, the ear buds provide the background music while I write in the coffee shop.  The lyrics to songs whistle somewhere over my head. But for some reason today the lyrics were present to me, more so than usual. And they were certainly more present than the words I was looking for--the words I was hoping to write. And so what can you do? You have to pay attention. And because its Sunday and two of you hope I can sustain this habit of mine, I was paying attention to Dylan. Here are some of the lyrics that grabbed me today.

From "Things Have Changed"

I've been walking forty miles of bad road

If the bible is right, the world will explode

I've been trying to get as far away from myself as I can

Some things are too hot to touch

The human mind can only stand so much

You can't win with a losing hand

This song is just flat great. It would definitely make my top ten Dylan tunes (but don't make me list them). I like this bit for the first three lines. I like that its forty miles of bad road. That's just biblical. And he follows that up with my favorite part, namely that his response to the fact that the world might explode is to get away from himself as far as he can. I can't tell you why or how, but I think I know exactly what he means.

From "Million Miles"

Rock me, pretty baby, rock me ’til everything gets real

Rock me for a little while, rock me ’til there’s nothing left to feel

And I’ll rock you too

I’m tryin’ to get closer but I’m still a million miles from you

I like the refrain in this song. Closer, but never close enough. Still a million miles from you. And mostly the song is despairing. But in this stanza we're rocking it until it gets real. 

From "Positively Fourth Street"

I wish that for just one time

You could stand inside my shoes

And just for that one moment

I could be you

Yes, I wish that for just one time

You could stand inside my shoes

You’d know what a drag it is

To see you

Some of Dylan's best songs are when he sees through the pretense. Like in "Ballad of a Thin Man" where the one guy who thinks he gets it is the most clueless. This song has some of that going for it. And I smile every time he sings "you'd know what a drag it is to see you."

From "Summer Days"

I got eight carburetors, boys I’m using ’em all
I got eight carburetors and boys, I’m using ’em all

I’m short on gas, my motor’s starting to stall

My dogs are barking, there must be someone around

My dogs are barking, there must be someone around

I got my hammer ringin’, pretty baby, but the nails ain’t goin’ down

This song plays well right now. We've been living beyond our means and on borrowed time. But summer's almost over (a nod to the prophet Jeremiah?) and burning eight carburetors has left us out of gas. But I love the last line, "I got my hammer ringin', pretty baby, but the nails ain't going down."

Finally, my favorite Dylan lyric of all time from "Make You Feel My Love."

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling down the avenue
No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love

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