By Larry Fyffe
In Norman Foster’s semi-humourous western movie ‘Rachel And The Stranger’, starring Robert Mitchum and William Holden, a purchased wife (Loretta Young) is treated not unkindly, but not lovingly by her husband (Holden); alongs comes a tall, dark stranger (Mitchum) who shows interest in the wife; the cold-hearted husband realizes that he loves his wife, and he’d best start showing it.
A song from the western movie:
Once was a man, a hateful man Had a wife, but didn't see the danger 'Til one day, one fateful day Along came a tall dark stranger
(Robert Mitchum: Tall Dark Stranger ~ Webb/Salt)
Perhaps gathered from coincidence are the following song lyrics:
Oh sister, when I come to lie in your arms You should not treat me as a strange Our father would not like the way that you act And you must realize the danger
(Bob Dylan: Oh Sister ~ Dylan/Levy)
The movie ‘La Strada’ (The Road) takes place in modern-day Italy. It mixes realism with surrealism; paints the same theme in darker colours –
Circus strongman, the abusive Anthony Quinn, unintentionly kills his circus rival, and only comes to realize that he loved his child-like drum-and-trumpet playing wife after he’s abandoned her, and she dies. She’s associated with warm ‘air’ from the cosmological mythology of yore; the ‘mighty’ Quinn with cold ‘earth’; the Christ-like tight-rope walker with regenerative ‘water’. As the movie ends, the chain-breaking strongman grasps the wet sand with his hands as he crawls on the beach.
A crooner later sings along with the thematic tune from the ‘La Strada’:
If you would open up your heart And let my love come shining through You'd know how much I wanna walk the road with you
(Perry Como: Travelling Down A Lonely Road ~ Rota/Galdier/Raye)
In his double-edged, often ironic, song lyrics, singer/songwriter/musician Bob Dylan shows the influence of Marcel Carne’s ‘”Children Of Paradise”, and Frederico Fillini’s “La Strada”, films that feature mimes and tight-rope walkers:
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky With one hand waving free Silhouetted by the sea Circled by the circus sands with memory and fate Driven deep beneath the waves Let me forget about today until tomorrow
(Bob Dylan: Mr. Tambourine Man)
For the moment at least, the speaker avoids the social command that one’s obligated to serve somebody:
She's got everything she needs, she's an artist She don't look back .... For Halloween buy her a trumpet And for Christmas give her a drum
(Bob Dylan: She Belongs To Me)
In the face of these demands, the independent-minded individual struggles to loosen the chains that bind his destiny:
l don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break In the fury of the moment, I can see the master's hand In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand
(Bob Dylan: Every Grain Of Sand)
Dylan envisions earthly existence metaphorically as a travelling troupe of acrobats and clowns:
They're selling post cards of the hanging, they're painting the passports brown The beauty parlour is filled with sailors, the circus is in town Here comes the blind commissioner, they've got him in a trance One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker, the other is in his pants And the riot squad, they're restless, they need somewhere to go As Lady and I look out tonight from Desolation Row
(Bob Dylan: Desolation Row)
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