Lenny Bruce is Dead

In his interviews Dylan says that he wrote the Lenny Bruce song in about five minutes.   Bruce died in 1966, and Dylan wrote the song around the time of the recording of Shot of Love in 1980.  Dylan never expressed any interest in Lenny Bruce before or since, and claims he has no idea why he wrote it.

This gives us a real insight into the meaning of Dylan songs, for here, virtually by his own admission, we have a stunningly elegant piece of writing in which the words have no deep meaning, but are part of a contextual whole, equal in many regards to the melody, chords, the piano and the voice.

It works so well because the music manages to be utterly haunting, and so matches the first line (which is the only line those who remember the song actually know)

Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lives on and on

After that the words don’t matter too much – what matters here is the total sound.  Perform it in any other way, and a lot would be lost.

It just continues – you can put the track on and play it, and it exists there giving you a feeling about the overall sound, without any sense of the words drifting through – at least not until we get to the final line…

Lenny Bruce was bad, he was the brother that you never had.

And that is about it.  An opening line and a closing line, a piano and a voice.  All making a simple song that is haunting and exquisite.  Sometimes things just work.

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6 Responses to Lenny Bruce is Dead

  1. skipow says:

    this song is about john lennon’s death

  2. Jo says:

    Haunting song. “I rode with him in a taxi once, only for a mile and a half, seems like it took a couple of months”

  3. David/cilia says:

    Anyone that bad mouth Elvis Presley is pure jealous of the great man that Elvis is…..most singer’s are only in the singing business because of Elvis ..everyone wants what Elvis had great talent…Elvis is loved the world over Elvis is loved by many singers of today’s music…were every you go your going to hear Elvis…Elvis the greatest icon of all time’s…not to like Elvis is not to like music…..so all you shitheads except the Truth there is always going to be Elvis Presley and there is nothing you can do about that…R.I.P…T.C.B…ALLWAYS ELVIS..xx

  4. marc says:

    Is there a studio version of lenny bruce

  5. TonyAttwood says:

    The “Shot of Love” version is a studio version I believe.

  6. Hello Tony, yes another interesting analysis of a song from Bob Dylan’s Music Box http://thebobdylanproject.com/Song/id/351/Lenny-Bruce Lift the lid and join us inside to listen to every song composed, recorded or performed by Bob Dylan, plus all the great covers streaming on YouTube, Spotify, Deezer and SoundCloud.

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