by Larry Fyffe
In his article entitled “Who Wrote Dylan”, Ross Altman asserts that Bob Dylan makes a deal with Prince Charles to write lyrics for his songs. And furthermore that Charles writes Dylan’s early songs. However, it’s rather surprising that someone holding a PhD would commit such grievous errors. Altman mixes up his Princes.
Bob Dylan himself later confesses that it’s Prince Phillip (not Charles) with whom he signs the contract:
Met Prince Phillip at the home of the blues Said he give me information if his name wasn't used He wanted money up front, said he was abused By dignity (Bob Dylan: Dignity)
Mr.Altman points out the fact that the Queen’s son says of course he’s familiar with Dylan Thomas’ work when asked if he knows who the singer Dylan is. Mr. Altman then misses the tip-off that a number of lyrics supposedly written by the American singer contain undignified, even off-colour, remarks – remarks completely uncharacteristic of Prince Charles, but not uncharacteristic of Queen Elizabeth’s husband.
Charles would not have written lyrics such as those below, but Phillip, a navy man, would and he does – it’s rather evident (his favourite beer is “Boddingtons”):
Well, sometimes I might get drunk Walk like a duck, and smell like a skunk Doesn't hurt me any, doesn't hurt my pride Because I got my little lady right by my side She's trying to hide, pretending she doesn't know me
In the same song, the Duke of Edinburgh, an avid fisherman, goes on to have a little fun with the name of his ”little lady”, Elizabeth The Second:
Well, they ask me why I'm drunk all the time It levels my head, and eases my mind I just walk along, and stroll and sing I see better days, and I do better things I catch dinosaurs Make love to Elizabeth Taylor Catch hell from Richard Burton (Bob Dylan: I Shall Be Free)
Bob Dylan gets stuck with singing more about British royalty when Prince Phillip can’t resist poking fun at Elizabeth’s paternal grandmother:
Queen Mary, she's my friend Yes, I believe I'll go see her again Nobody has to guess That Baby can't be blessed Till she finally sees that she's like all the rest With her fog, amphetamine, and her pearls (Bob Dylan: Just Like A Woman)
If that weren’t evidence enough, Phillip goes after one of Elizabeth’s relatives of long ago in another song:
When your mother sends back all your invitations And your father to your sister, he explains That you're tired of yourself, and all of your creations Won't you come see me, Queen Jane? (Bob Dylan: Queen Jane Approximately)
Lady Jane, the daughter of Duke Henry Grey and Lady Frances, is proclaimed Queen, but her reign lasts only a few days: she’s deposed, and replaced by the dead King’s half-daughter ‘Bloody’ Mary; then beheaded.
In the following song lyrics, Phillip once again almost gives himself away – he loves to play polo, a game Bob Dylan has no interest in:
Come over here pony, I want to climb up one time on you You're so nasty, and you're so bad That I swear that I love you, yes I do (Bob Dylan: New Pony)
Polo is played by royalty, and a polo match is clearly going on in the lyrics below:
All along the watchtower Princes kept the view While all the women came and went Barefoot servants too Outside, in the distance A wildcat did growl Two riders were approaching And the wind began to howl (Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower)
A footnote from Tony: Larry of course writes this series of articles, but the selection of videos is down to me. I do try not to repeat my selections over and over when there are others available, but the live version of Dignity back up the page, which I have used several times before, is for me, beyond doubt, the very best one version ever. So sorry, it does get featured in several articles, but I just can’t resist.
What else is on the site
We have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 3330 active members. (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm). Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link
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 597 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.
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.
On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, please do drop me a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article. Email Tony@schools.co.uk
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, links back to our reviews