By Tony Attwood
In Greek mythology, the original gods were thought to have been born out of the void – the gap created by the separation of heaven and earth. These were the primordial deities Gaia (Mother Earth) and Uranus (Father Sky) and they created the Titans.
There were six male Titans, Oceanus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Cronus, and six female Titans, Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe and Tethys.
Mnemosyne became the goddess of memory and remembrance and the mother of the nine Muses. And of course memory was of central importance the oral culture of the Greeks as much as it is to a performer of pop, rock and folk music today.
Zeus, the sky and thunder god appeared in the form of a shepherd, and stayed with Mnemosyne for nine consecutive nights, and as a result she conceived the nine Muses: Calliope (the muse of epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (music), Erato (lyric poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (hymns), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy) and Urania (astronomy).
Mnemosyne, the mother of Muses, is subsequently called upon by poets who seek her help so that they may correctly remember the lines that they are to recite – this occurs both in the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Mnemosyne was thus worshipped in Ancient Greece and statues were erected to her while in drawings she is often shown alongside her daughters. Thus in “Mother of Muses” Dylan, now aged 79, can be seen to be asking for a little help in remembering his lines. Or he may just be reflecting upon the ancient Greek traditions. Or both.
The Odyssey begins, “Sing for me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy.”
Dylan then cites five generals from America, Russia and Britain, who created the modern world into which Bob’s heroes could create the world.
Mother of Muses sing for me Sing of the mountains and the deep dark sea Sing of the lakes and the nymphs in the forest Sing your hearts out - all you women of the chorus Sing of honor and fame and of glory be Mother of Muses, sing for me Mother of Muses sing for my heart Sing for a love too soon to depart Sing of the Heroes who stood alone Whose names are engraved on tablets of stone Who struggled with pain so the world could go free Mother of Muses, sing for me Sing of Sherman - Montgomery and Scott Sing of Zhukov and Patton and the battles they fought Who cleared the path for Presley to sing Who carved out the path for Martin Luther King Who did what they did and then went on their way Man, I could tell their stories all day
Bob then focuses on one of the muses – Calliope, the Muse who presides over eloquence and epic poetry who taught Orpheus verses that he could sing. According to some tellings she was the wisest of the Muses, and the most assertive.
I’m falling in love with Calliope She doesn’t belong to anybody - why not give her to me She’s speaking to me, speaking with her eyes I’ve grown so tired of chasing lies Mother of Muses wherever you are I’ve already outlived my life by far Mother of Muses unleash your wrath Things I can’t see - they’re blocking my path Show me your wisdom - tell me my fate Put me upright - make me walk straight Forge my identity from the inside out You know what I’m talking about Take me to the river and release your charms Let me lay down in your sweet lovin’ arms Wake me - shake me - free me from sin Make me invisible like the wind Got a mind to ramble - got a mind to roam I’m travelin’ light and I’m slow coming home
In this final verse Dylan refers to some of his favourite songs as he reviews his travels on the Never Ending Tour, and gives me a rare chance to include a Talking Heads recording.
“Traveling Light”, “Slow,” and “Going Home” are from Leonard Cohen. Here’s just one of those…
Rough and Rowdy Ways
- My own version of you: Bob’s revenge; Bob’s desire
- I contain multitudes; where do we start, where do we end?
- False Prophet: the meaning of life
- Why Murder Most Foul?
- The Black Rider
- I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You. And Offenbach and Johnny Cash.
- Goodbye Jimmy Reed: Bob Dylan and the random-abstract song.
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.
We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers. Sadly no one gets paid, but if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics. If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a Word file to Tony@schools.co.uk with a note saying that it is for publication on Untold Dylan.
We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with around 7000 active members. 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. Not every index is complete but I do my best. Tony Attwood