Wild Wolf. Bob Dylan does the darkness and sings about stuff.

By Tony Attwood

The first time I heard “Wild Wolf” I was immediately reminded of songs such as “Tin Angel” and “Scarlet Town” from Tempest.

It is primarily atmosphere that draws these songs together for me, the sense of brooding darkness that I think Bob was trying to create in such songs – atmosphere above and beyond the importance of any story or the lyrics… just the darkness.

The song is obviously held together by the primary use of minor chords and the prominence given to the bass and the percussion without any use of cymbals.  Very broody.

Here are the lyrics from Expecting Rain as copyrighted in 1973

Now the ruins are barely rolling / And the animals cant agree
On all the bushes in the nations / But nobody feels sorry for me
If I lost everything of all the cities / Yeah, but I can’t help his smog
The day, I feel it / She sure is standing / But the holy book is written
Oh, what page / They are all there / And as for a natural warning
But nobody done yet understand / Just like Pharoah and his armies
They made of solid bread, yeah / That old bad wolf’s gonna howl his way to morning’s
Hold to some big cavern / I would sit and wait, calling my children out there
But I just don’t mean to hesitate / And if I was a missionary leader
I would attempt to laugh and rage / Yet the wild wolf he’s still bubblin’ under
And not a babe

And as quoted by Haiku 61, which I think he borrowed from another site

Now the ruins are barely rolling
And the nations can’t agree
On all that all the nations
But nobody feels very sorry for me
If I lost everything of all the saving grace
Yeah, but I can’t help this smog
The day I feel it
She sure is standing
Now the holy book is written
Oh, what page
All are there
And as for a natural warning
But nobody done yet understand
Just like Pharaoh and his armies
They were made of a solid breath, yeah, and
That old bad wolf’s gonna howl his way from morning
Holed in some big cavern
I would sit and wait, calling my children outside
But I just don’t mean to hesitate
And if I was a master leader
I would attempt to laugh and rage
Yet the wild wolf he’s big old bad 
And not a babe

The song has a series of moving chords, that are not particularly complex but for the band to get them right, but complex enough that they have obviously rehearsed the piece before playing on this recording.  But despite that amount of effort Bob doesn’t seem to have worked much on the lyrics apart from writing them in a stream of consciousness manner.

But none of that compares to Haiku 61 where the writer really has exceeded himself…

Wild wolf, holy books.
Pharaoh’s armies made of bread.
No one cares for me.

Oh for the wit to write like that.  I could live without this track, but utterly love the Haiku and will keep that with me forever.

As for the Basement Tapes Complete it is very strange how these songs come one after the other.   “Going to Acapulco” comes next which is very different, but then there is “Gonna get you now” which uses the same accompaniment techniques but to a very different effect.

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You’ll find an index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

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