Bob Dylan, Mixing Up The Medicine


By Larry Fyffe

As pointed out previously, the two riders in the song below are none other than attendant thief Bob Dylan, and jokester nurse Allen Ginsberg:

Two riders were approaching
The wind began to howl
(Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower)

They hope to hatch a plan to save drifter Jesus from being crucified on the cross; one of His followers has been accused of attacking a guard of a high priest:

There must be some way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
"There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief"
(Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower)

Within the Holy Bible, the two riders find the answer to the way out, and together they come up with a plan worthy of Charles Dickens.

That Bob Dylan practices Gnostic time travelling has been pointed out in other Untold articles, but for those who are non-believers here are other clues that Dylan’s persona is from the separate Spirit World, and is capable of transforming himself into any physical manifestation on Earth that he chooses.

In the movie ‘Renaldo And Clara’, Bob Dylan and poet Allen Ginsberg are shown visiting  the ‘ Way Of Sorrows’ religious icons, one of which is “Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus’. Some Gnostics claim that  Libyan Simon takes the the place of Jesus on the cross since Christ is from the Other World, and therefore cannot be put to death. But of Simon, little is known.

The Holy Bible contains remanents of that Gnostic story:

And they compel one Simon, a Cyrenian
Who passed by, coming out of the country
The father of Alexander and Rufus
To bear His cross
(Mark 15: 21)

Always in search of further knowledge, there are Gnostics who question the assertion that it’s Simon who gets crucified. Apparently, Bob Dylan, or at least his persona, transfigures himself into a detective Sherlock Holmes archetype in search of the truth:

Well, I'm goin' off to Libya
There's a guy I gotta see
He's been livin' there three years now
In an oil refinery
I've got my mind made up
Oh, I got my mind made up
(Bob Dylan: Got My Mind Made Up ~ Dylan/Petty)

Unfortunately, because Gnostics are bound by an oath of secrecy, we do not find out from Dylan if he finds it’s the Cyrenian Simon who’s in the Libyan refinery. Of course, then Simon would have  had to have returned from the Spiritual Plain rather than being dead as a doornail. It’s all rather mysterious, but the clues left behind in the lyrics by the singer/songwriter cannot be ignored.

Not to mention that the jokester and the thief apparently succeed in their mission:

"No reason to get excited now"
The thief he kindly spoke
"There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hour is getting late"
(Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower)

Whatever truth lies behind the fates of Simon and Jesus, the story serves as a template for other songs by Bob Dylan. In the lyrics below, it seems that Rosemary sacrifices herself for the sake of Lily, a Mary Magdalene archetype, and for the Jack Of Hearts – for JOH, for JehOvaH, if you like (to confuse matters further, some Gnostics consider Jehovah, the creator of the physical realm, to be a demiurge, but not so the ‘real’ Jesus from the Spirit World):

The next day was hangin' day, the sky was overcast and black
Big Jim lay covered up, killed by a penknife in the back
And Rosemary on the gallows, she didn't even blink
The hangin' judge was sober, he hadn't had a drink
The only person on the scene missin' was the Jack Of Hearts
(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts)

The characters present in the song below obviously influenced the author of the song above:

I stepped up to my rival, dagger in my hand
Being mad by depression, I pierced him to the breast
All this for lovely Flora, my Lily of the West
They placed me in the witness box, and then commenced on me
Although she swore my life away, deprived me of my rest
Still I love my faithless Flora, the Lily of the West
(Bob Dylan: Lily Of The West ~ Davis/Peterson)

Thank goodness that the sun is shining, and everything is clear now!

What else is here?

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.

There is an alphabetic index to the 550+ Dylan compositions reviewed on the site which you will find it here.  There are also 500+ other articles on different issues relating to Dylan.  The other subject areas are also shown at the top under the picture.

We also have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook which mostly relates to Bob Dylan today.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews.

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