Bob Dylan And Queen Mary

By Larry Fyffe

As noted, time-travelling has it’s ups and downs.

Singer/songwriter/musician Bob Dylan travels back in time to visit the prophet Moses who hands him a pen, and asks him to write a biblical verse for the children of Israel after Bob’s been given a bite to eat.

Pleased he is to do so:

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee
The Lord make His face shine upon thee
And be gracious unto thee
The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee
And give thee peace
(Numbers 6: 24, 25, 26)

Dylan simply revises lyrics that he’s written in the future:

May God bless you, and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
(Bob Dylan: Forever Young)

No harm done at all – he eats pens and leaves.

On a another time-travel adventure, matters get somewhat tricky when Dylan witnesses Jesus escaping from being  crucified. A cover story that Christ survives a few days thereafter all but straightens things out. Time continues to march on in the way God plans it to.

However, the guitar-playing singer gets a bit too smug, and gets himself into a quite a mess when he goes back in history to say hello to Queen Mary of England: he’s been told you can’t repeat the past, but replies ‘who says I can’t’:

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 and her aphetamine, and her pearls
(Bod Dylan: Just Like A Woman)

History tells us that Queen Mary rules for five years, but she doesn’t produce any male heirs, nor female ones for that matter, though she does endure a ‘false pregnancy’. These be times that are amiss; the ‘Great Chain Of Being’ is broken yet again.

To make matters worse, the Catholic Queen runs off to the Scottish Highlands with the Jewish time-travelling drifter, and it’s a couple of years before she’s scheduled to be succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth. Dylan has screwed up history in a big way, and this time he does not know how to fix it.

True to character, Dylan switches blame, and places it all on the shoulders of ‘Bloody’ Mary:

People see me all the time
And they just don't remember how to act
Their minds are filled with big ideas
Images and distorted fact
Even you, yesterday
You had to ask me where it was at
I couldn't believe after all these years
You didn't know me any better than that
Sweet Lady
(Bob Dylan: Idiot Wind)

Luckily, God knows Bob well, and redeems the wanderer; allows him to escape from the biggest mix-up that he’s ever been in. All he has to do is get circumcised, and given the circumstances, why not? He tells God that he’s already been circumcised, and there is no need for him to be circumcised again.

God then orders the time-travelling minstrel boy to go back just a tiny bit more, and have an affair with Queen Jane Grey. God knows Jane is going to be a monarch only for a few days, that she and her consort haven’t had time to have children, and both will soon have their heads chopped off on orders from ‘Bloody’ Mary. God figures that nobody’ll take much notice, and, anyway, the timeline will approximately be put back on its historical track.

It’s an offer the time-drifter can’t refuse. Although he doesn’t know that she has no children, the singer/songwriter knows the artistically-inclined Queen Jane is trapped unwillingly in a royal power struggle – she’s only a pawn in the game; she’s young, and she’s vulnerable:

When your mother sends back all of 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
Won't you come see me Queen Jane?
When all of the flower ladies want back
What they have lent you
And the smell of their roses does not remain
And all of your children start to resent you
Won't you come see me Queen Jane?
(Bob Dylan: Queen Jane Approximately)

All’s well that ends well; nothing comes out of the messy situation except that some modern-day rumour-mongering tabloids claim that Bob Dylan once had a shoddy affair with a lady named Grey.


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  1. In the above song ‘Just Like A Woman’, Bob Dylan makes fun of his girlfriend ‘Bloody’ Queen Mary.

    He calls her ‘Annie’ – after Anne Boleyn, the mother of Mary’s
    half-sister Elizabeth.

    ‘Annie,’ replaces Mary’s mother, Catherine, whose marriage to her father Henry VIII has been annulled.

    Bob takes his great sense of humour with him when he’s goes time-travelling

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