Bob Dylan And Pygmalion

by Larry Fyffe

Previously pointed out is that the song lyrics of ‘She Belongs To Me’ by Bob Dylan, though it’s a revised version of the myth, can be interpreted as having Jungian roots in the mythological story of Orpheus and Eurydice; Orpheus, the musician, sails with Jason in quest of the noble Golden Fleece:

She's got everything she needs, she's an artist
She don't look back
(Bob Dylan: She Belongs To Me)

“Tin Angel” by Bob Dylan also can be considered to have Jungian roots that go back to the mythological story of Pyramus and Thisbe; an unhappy ending that story has – Pyramus thinking Thisbe is killed by a lion takes his own life; Thisbe then does likewise:

You died for me, now I'll die for you
She put the blade to her heart, and she ran it through
(Bob Dylan: Tin Angel)

The myths mentioned above be not so much cosmological explanations, but rather they are stories told basically for their entertainment value – in short, early literature.

Another mythological story concerns the love that Ceyx and Alcyone have for each other; this time the ending of the tale is a happy romantic one – of sorts. Ceyx goes on a sea voyage, but is drowned due to a terrible storm; eventually, his body washes close to the shore. Alcyone sees him, and throws herself into the rolling sea; the gods take pity on her – she and then Ceyx, when Alcyone reaches out for him, now both have wings to fly over the waves. So there is a link made in the mythology to explain the formation of the Cosmos.

It can be supposed there be Jungian roots to the above mythology in the song lyrics below:

The crashing waves roll over me
As I stand upon the sand
Wait for you to come
And grab hold of my hand
(Bob Dylan: Never Say Goodbye)

What’s more, it can be construed that the singer/songwriter/musician mythologizes, personifies, a natural feature of his home state, Minnesota – a lake that freezes over in wintertime:

Oh, baby, baby, baby, blue
You'll change your last name too
You've turned you hair to brown
Love to see it hanging down
(Bob Dylan: Never Say Goodbye)

Lake ‘Bde Maka Ska’, considered an aspect of the Great White Mother by the native ‘Indians’, has it’s name changed in the 1800’s as a tribute to the long-darkish-haired, pro-slaver “Cast-Iron” John Calhoun. Take what you can gather from coincidence – the name is changed back to its original native one after the song’s written – “You’ll change your last name too”. Ancient mythologies, whether of the pre-science kind or literature for pure entertainment, or both, get revised to suit changing times.

Edith Hamilton points out the mythological tale of Pygmalion and Galatea, as told by Ovid, has no connection to pre-science and nature.  Sculptor Pygmalion  creates a statue of what he considers to be the perfect woman, and falls in love with it, treats it as though it were a living being. Venus, the Goddess of Love, brings Galatea to life for him; pre-psychology, it may well be, however:

But, oh, what a wonderful feeling
Just to know that you are near
Sets my heart a-reeling
From my toes up to my ears
(Bob Dylan: The Man In Me)

The Dylanesque rhyme twist: ~ ‘

feeling’/’reeling’; ‘near’/’ears’ corresponding to: ~ ‘feeling’/’feeling’;
‘near/’appear’ – from the song in the movie ‘My Fair Lady’ (as well as in the stage musical) that refers back to the Greek myth:

And oh! the towering feeling
Just to know somehow you are near
The overpowering feeling
That any second you may suddenly appear
(Bill Shirley: On The Street Where You Live ~ Loewe/Lerner)

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 of this site.  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, or indeed have an idea for a series of articles that the regular writers might want to have a go at, please do drop a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article to Tony@schools.co.uk

And please do note our friends at  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, plus links back to our reviews (which we do appreciate).

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