Bye And Bye Miss American Pie

by Larry Fyffe

Bob Dylan’s “Bye And Bye” can be construed to be a song about  obsessive love for another person.

But on another level, it’s an allegory, a double-edged ‘confessional’ song, about his love for the music of the ‘”good ol’ days”:

If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I have to start with Buddy Holly.
Buddy died when I was about eighteen and he was twenty-two.
From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin ...
Buddy played the music that I loved - the music I grew up on:
country western, rock 'n' roll, and rhythm and blues.
(Bob Dylan: The Nobel Lecture)

Somewhat similar to the theme encapsulated in the following song that mentions the ‘jester’ who created ‘Like A Rolling Stone”:

Now for ten years we've been on own
And moss grows fat on a rollin' stone
But that's not how it used to be
When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
(Don McLean: Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie)

Bob Dylan recasts and expands on McLean’s famous lament – he writes it anew:

Bye and bye, I'm breathin' a lover's sigh
I'm sittin' on my watch so I can be on time
I'm singin' love's praises with sugar-coated rhyme
Bye and bye, on you I'm castin' my eye
(Bob Dylan: Bye And Bye)

Alluded to is the swing-jazz of “I’m Painting The Town Red”:

A smile on my face
A song on my lips
Pretendin' is all that I do
I'm paintin' the town red
To hide a heart that's blue
(Billy Holiday: I'm Painting The Town Red ~ Newman, et al)

And the country-hillbilly of “Steamboat Man”:

Oh, I hate see that evening sun go down
For I know I'm on my last go round
(Shirkey and Harper: Steamboat Man)

To wit:

I'm paintin' the town, swingin' my partner around
I know who I can depend on, I know who to trust
I'm watchin' the roads, I'm studyin' the dust
I'm paintin' the town, I'm on my last go round
(Bob Dylan: Bye And Bye)

And there’s Shakespeare in the alley – a play in which the young and beautiful Rosalind falls in love at first sight with the son of a friend of the usurped Duke, her father whom she dearly loves; she wants Orlando to become the father of her child.

Says she of her love:

No, some of it is for my child's father
O, how full of briars is this working-day world

She tolerates the usurper, her uncle:

I do beseech your grace
Let me the knowledge of my fault bear with me
It is with myself I hold intelligence
Or have acquaintance with my own desires
(William Shakespeare: As You Like It, Act I, sc. iii)

The singer/songwriter, older than Rosalind, no longer knows for sure how it feels to be on your own like a rolling stone:

I'm scufflin' and I'm shufflin', and I'm walkin' on brairs
I'm not even acquainted with my own desires
(Bob Dylan: Bye And Bye)

He’s slowed down, but still not drained of Rosalind’s youthful spirit, and determination:

I'm rollin' slow, I doin' all I know
I' m tellin' myself I found true happiness
That I've still got a dream that hasn't been repossessed
I'm rollin' slow, goin' where the wild red roses grow
(Bob Dylan: Bye And Bye)

Too dark for Dylan is Dionysian Nick Cave’s “Where The Wild Roses Grow” in which the singer/songwriter crushes his true love’s skull with a stone.

Here,  Rose is the sweetest flower that grows:

The future for me is already a thing of the past
You were my first love, and you willl be my last
(Bob Dylan: Bye And Bye)

Nor is he going to suffer the fate of the likes of the ‘Mamas And Papas’; Dylan’s fighting on until the very end:

Papa gone mad, mamma, she's just feelin' sad
I'm gonna baptize you in fire so you can sin no more
I'm gonna establish my rule through civil war
Gonna make you see just how loyal and true a man can be
(Bob Dylan: Bye And Bye)

You don’t mess around with the music-loving, fiery Sun-God Apollo: if he gets upset at usurpers, he’s likely to turn into the God of Thunder, and crush them with a bright idea!

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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