Bobviously Dylan


By Larry Fyffe

It is one thing to say that persons may well be remembered long after they die, or that they live on forever by becoming part of the earth in which they are buried, or that individuals can be ‘reborn’ by having a change of heart during their lifetime, but it is quite yet another to believe that after human beings die they will be  literally revived elsewhere in the flesh as though they had never died.

Under the Christian doctrine of ‘resurrection’ that is what supposedly happened to Jesus of Nazareth. What’s more, that is what will apparently happen to you and I – we may end up in ‘Heaven’, or we may end down in ‘Hell’, but we won’t end stone dead.

The Book of St. John in the canonized New Testament distinguishes Christianity from the uncertainity expressed in the Old Testament over the matter; living forever, especially in a Paradise, and apparently well- restored, certainly has its appeal.

Apostle Thomas has his doubts that such a transformation can happen, but the supposedly crucified Jesus, not yet lifted into Heaven, seemingly sets the record straight though it is not  all that clear whether He was bluffing Thomas or not:

The other disciples therefore said unto him, “We have seen the Lord”
But he said unto them, “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails
And put my fingers into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side
I will not believe ….
Then saith He to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands
And reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side
And be not faithless, but believing
And Thomas answered, and said unto Him
“My Lord and my God”
(St. John 20: 25, 27, 28)

Bob Dylan performs a song about the incident that is described in the Book of St. John:

I am the man, Thomas, I am the man
Look at these nail scars here in my hand
They drove me up the hill, Thomas, I am the man
They made me carry the cross, Thomas, I am the man
I am the man, Thomas, I am the man
Look at these nail scars here in my hand
(Bob Dylan: I Am The Man, Thomas ~ Stanley/Sparks/Dylan)

Strangely, the Book of St. John adds the story about Thomas, but omits the one about Simon, the Libyan, a tale that at least suggests Jesus might have escaped being executed:

And they compelled one Simon, a Cyrenian
Who passed by by, coming out of the country
The father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear the cross
(St, Mark 15, 21)

Singer/songwriter/musician Bob Dyan is influenced by the poet John Keats, and his concept of ‘negative capability’ – that is, being able to hold seemingly contrary viewpionts at the same time without getting overly concerned about it.

Life for Dylan, as far as his song lyrics indicate, carries with it an entanglement of predetermined destiny, and of pure chance as if living were akin to a card game of poker:

I've been walking forty miles of bad road
If the Bible is right, the world will explode
I've been trying to get as far away from myself as I can
Some things are too hot to touch
The human mind can only stand so much
You can't win with a losing hand
(Bob Dylan: Things Have Changed)

There’s this:

Backstage the girls were playing five-cars stud by the stairs
Lily had two queens, she was hoping for a third to match her pair ...
Lily called another bet, and drew up the Jack Of Hearts
(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts)

Then Bob brings it all back home:

Shadows are falling, and I've been here all day
It's been too hot to sleep, and time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I've still got the scars that the sun didn't heal
(Bob Dylan: Not Dark Yet)

Untold Dylan: who we are what we do

Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.

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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.  Not every index is complete but I do my best.

But what is complete is our index to all the 604 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found, on the A to Z page.  I’m proud of that; no one else has found that many songs with that much information.  Elsewhere the songs are indexed by theme and by the date of composition. See for example Bob Dylan year by year.


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