Bob Dylan  Goes Time Travellin’  Once Again


By Larry Fyffe

It’s contended by most historians that there be no domesticated camels when Abraham is supposed to have lived, a time the following biblical verse refers to:

And the man came into the house
And he ungirded his camels

(Genesis 24:32)

Such a controversy need not exist, however. The inclusion of tame camels at the wrong time in history is easily explained. The biblical narrative is created after its author listens to, and revises, a song by the time-travelling minstrel Bob Dylan who, as previously explained, can actually do what Emanuel Swedenborg claims he could do. That is, Dylan does not look back in time, but he travels back in time:

You walked into the room like a camel, and then you frown
You put your eyes into your pocket, and your nose on the ground
There ought to be a law against you comin' around

(Ballad Of A Thin Man)

Other biblical critics question the authenticity of the story that Moses tells concerning his journey into the Arabian wilderness:

And it came to pass that at even the quails came up
And covered the camp

(Exodus 16:13)

A simpler explanation than the conjecture that there must have been a bunch of migrating birds flying around is that Moses hears the song-and-dance, time-travellin’ man recite the lyrics quoted below; the biblical narrator likes them so much that he decides to include the birds mentioned therein in his own story about the Hebrews flight from Egypt:

Carolina born and bred
Love to hunt the little quail
Got a hundred-acre spread

(Nils De Caster: Catfish ~ Bob Dylan/Jacques Levy)

Then there’s the biblical story rendered below:

And when He thus had spoken
He cried in a loud voice
"Lazarus, come forth"
And he that was dead came forth
Bound hand and foot in grave-clothes

(John 11: 43, 44)

So too, John the Apostle is inspired to come up with the story about bringing someone back alive after listening to the time-drifter sing the following lyrics:

Oh, the High Sheriff told the deputy
"Go out and get me Lazarus
Dead or alive
Dead or alive"

(Bob Dylan: Poor Lazarus)

Problematic be the biblical story that Cain is depicted as a farmer, and Abel as a sheep herder when they were supposed to have lived long before such practices came into existence in human history. That Tubal-cain in his time-line be depicted as a worker of iron is even more problematic:

And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain
An instructer of every artificer in brass and iron

(Genesis 4: 22)

There must be some way outta here, and there is. Though he changes the person’s name a bit, the bibical narrator simply revises the lyrics of a song that the time-twister repeats to him:

Virgil Caine is the name
And I served on the Danville train
'Till Stoneman's cavalry came
And tore up the tracks again

(The Band: The Night They Drove Old Dixieland Down ~ Robbie Robertson)

Hearing ‘Danville’ in the above song lyrics explains why a variation on the name gets used in the Bible for a city that’s supposed to be in the Northern Kingdom of Israel at the time referred to in the following verse:

And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive
He armed his trained servants, born in his own house ....
And pursued them unto Dan

(Genesis 14:14)

As the holy book itself points out, Abraham’s northward pursuit should have ended in a city called ‘Laish’ – although by sheer coincidence the city later becomes known as ‘Dan’:

And they called the name of the city Dan
... the name of the city was Laish at the first

(Judges 18: 29)

Time travellers who go back in time like Bob Dylan does, and who ignore the universal ‘prime directive’ not to interfere in the events of history thaking place at that time, are bound to mess things up somewhere along the line.

What else is on the site

You’ll find some notes about 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.

The index to all the 590 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

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If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

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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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