Bob Dylan And Frankenstein (Part II)

Bob Dylan And Frankenstein (Part II)

This article continues from Bob Dylan and Frankenstein

by Larry Fyffe

Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan is rather consistent in the themes that he expresses though his often dark-humoured song lyrics – consistent yes, yet very innovative at the same. For instance, Dylan turns two central stories from the Holy Bible into a Gothic Romantic musical masterpiece – the Almighty creates a perfect, beautiful Satan who then rebels against his authoritarian Creator:

For thou hast said in thine heart
"I will ascend into Heaven,
I will exalt the throne above the stars of God
I will sit on the mount....
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds
I will be like the Most High"
(Isaiah 14:13,14)

The Almighty then creates Mankind in His own image, and, sure enough, look what happens:

And the Serpent said unto the woman
"Ye shall not surely die
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof
Then your eyes shall be opened
And ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" ......
And a tree to be desired to make one wise
She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat
And gave also unto to her husband with her, and he did eat
(Genesis 3: 4,5,6)

God’s not happy with his authority being challenged by these upstarts, and, to show who’s the  boss, He throws Satan, Eve, and Adam out in the streets, so to speak.

Satan, he’s his own boss, and he ain’t gonna stand for it, ain’t gonna take it anymore:

"So farewell hope, and, with hope, farewell fear
Farewell remorse! All good to me is lost
Evil be thou my good"
(John Milton: Paradise Lost, Book IV)

A creator of a novel revises the story a bit, makes it darker  – therein, God-like Dr. Frankenstein rejects his own creation:

"I, the miserable and the abandoned ....kicked, and trampled on
Even now my blood boils at the recollection of the injustice
Evil thenceforth became my good"
(Mary Shelley: Frankenstein Or The Modern Prometheus)

The singer/singer takes on the persona of Mary’s creature in the lyrics below:

You trampled on me as you passed
Left the coldest kiss upon my brow
All my doubts and fears have gone at last
I've nothing more to tell you now
(Bob Dylan: Tell Old Bill)

Victor Frankenstein’s side of the story is later related by Bob Dylan to his listeners/readers; Doctor Victor wants everyone to stay forever young:

All through the summer, into January
I've been visiting morgues, and monasteries
Looking for the necessary body parts
Limbs and livers, and brains and hearts
I'll bring someone to life, is what I wanna do
I wanna create my own version of you .....
One strike of lightning is all that I need
And a blast of electricity that runs at top speed
Shimmy your ribs, I'll stick in the knife
Gonna jump-start my creation to life
I wanna bring someone to life, turn back the years
Do it with laughter, and do it with tears

The melancholy ghost of John Keats haunts the song – a young boy, beloved by Apollo, accidently spears his pet deer; the son of Zeus, the God of Thunder, turns the boy into a cypress tree so that the boy can weep forever:

Is there light at the end of the tunnel, can you tell me please?
Stand over here by the cypress tree
(Bob Dylan: My Version Of You)


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What Rolling Stone had to say about Untold Dylan and Tell ol Bill

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