Bob Dylan And Shel Silverstein 

By Larry Fyffe

Rob Stoner, bassist who accompanied ‘the song and dance man’ on tour, succinctly describes Bob Dylan’s mixing of personal and artistic motives behind many of his public performances, including those in documentaries and films:

“He’s always trying to put people on, to put people off his trail. He’s busy throwing shade ….   It’s all part of him just being a shapeshifter. It’s all intentional, and it’s all in fun.”

Indeed, satirists Lord Buckley and Sheldon Allan Silverstein have a strong influence on the singer, songwriter, and musician Bob Dylan.

The following lyrics are directed at children; nonetheless, like many fairy tales and nursery rhymes, they be not light-hearted in tone, but quite dark-humoured:

He watched till his eyes were frozen wide
And his bottom grew into his chair
And his chin turned into a tuning dial
And antennae grew out of his hair
(Shel Silverstein: Jimmy Jet And His TV Set)

(Please note video  below takes a few seconds to get going)

The song lyrics below are directed at children, but send a warning to their parents as well:

"The news of the day is on all the time
All the latest gossip, all the latest rhyme
Your mind is your temple, keep it beautiful and free
Don't let an egg get laid in it by something you can't see"
(Bob Dylan: TV Talking Song)

The following lyrics, sung by Bob Dylan, appear in the film “Hearts Of Fire”:

I've got a couple of more years on you babe, and that's all
I've had more chances to fly, and more places to fall
It ain't that I'm wiser
It's only that I've spent more time with my back to the wall
And I've picked up a couple of more years on you baby, 
      and that's all
(Dr. Hook: A Couple of More Years ~ Shel Silverstein)

A shapeshifter Bob Dylan is for sure, but as the following lyrics demonstrate (like those above do), many are not performed just for the fun of it. Though they be not out-right didactic, they contain a message that does not place the blame for anti-social behaviour solely on the inherent nature of human beings:

I saw the headlines on the 'Morning Star'
"Mad dope fiend killer behind bars"
I was found guilty at the trial
Judge said I'm condemned to die
(Dope Fiend Robber ~ Bob Dylan)

Another rendition thereof with accompanying music:

They found me guilty at the trial
The judge condemned me to die
Been on the morphine quite a while
But once I was someone's child
(Nick Juno: Dope Fiend Robber ~ Dylan/Juno)

(For more information on this Dylan song recreated via Untold Dylan please see here)

The song lyrics below may be rendered rather light-heartedly in tone,  but only for the sake of making them more poignant through the incongruity:

He was a clean cut kid
And they made a killer out of him
Is what they did
They say, "Listen up, boy, you're just a pup"
They sent him to a napalm health spa to shape up
(Bob Dylan: Clean Cut Kid)

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One comment

  1. Alternate lyrics:

    The news of the day is a hassle all the time
    All the greatest gossip, all the latest rhyme
    They’ll fix your brain inside your eyes, and penetrate your skull
    They lays an egg inside your head and makes you dull

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