By Larry Fyffe
Let us go you and I to where some lyrics from poems and songs are spread out in Bob Dylan’s song lyrics – for example, we’ve recently looked at poets Robert Frost, Anthony Raferty, Robert Browning, and Edward Taylor.
Here be more tributes – this one to the blues song below:
AlI I could see was the rain Something grabbed a hold of her Felt to me honey, Lord, like a ball and chain (Janis Joplin: Ball And Chain ~ 'Big Mama' Thornton)
Switching the rhyme from ~ ‘rain’/’chain’ to ‘brain’/’chain’ in the following revenge-filled lyrics:
You lost your mule You got a poison brain I'll marry you to a ball and chain (Bob Dylan: False Prophet)
Beneath, Bob Dylan pays tribute to a melancholic song:
Each place I go only the lonely go Some little small cafe The songs I know only the lonely know (Frank Sinatra: Only The Lonely ~ Heusen/Cahn)
In the following lyrics,the singer/songwriter sticks to the same rhyme ~ ‘go’/’know’:
I ain't no false prophet I just know what I know I go where only the lonely can go (Bob Dylan: False Prophet)
Now a a tribute paid to a melancholic Gothic Romantic poet- quoted below:
My heart aches and a drowsy numbness pains My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains (John Keats: Ode To A Nightingale)
Changes ~ ‘pains’/’drains’ to ‘pain’/ ‘drain’:
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there And my sense of humanity has gone down the drain Behind every beautiful thing, there's been some kind of pain (Bob Dylan: Not Dark Yet)
As indicated in the lines above, a true artist fears not intellectual contradictions, ambiguity, and confusion – so too in the lines below in which fame is compared to an alluring woman:
Make the best bow to her, and bid adieu Then if she likes it, she will follow you "You cannot eat you cake, and have it too" (John Keats: On Fame)
Ah yes, why not grasp contradiction; this time play your hand outright; invert the sentiment and gender; and at the same time retain most of the rhyme ~ ‘adieu’/’you’/’to’?:
You can have your cake, and eat it too Why wait any longer for the one you love When he's standing in front of you? (Bob Dylan: Lay, Lady, Lay)
Keeping on keeping on – a nod to a Romantic Transcendental poet, an optimist in the days of youth:
There was a time when every meadow, grove, and stream The earth, and every common sight To me did seem apparelled in celestial light The glory and freshness of a dream (William Wordsworth: Imitations Of Immortality)
Below, the Romantic poet’s theme of the innocence of youth lost in th sorrows of adulthood; keeping the rhyme ~ ‘stream/’dream’:
I cross the Green Mountain I slept by a stream Heaven blazing in my head I dreamt a monstrous dream (Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)
In short, a goodly part of the artistic creative process involves borrowing from the lyrical art of yesterday, and adding appropriate musical accompaniment in order to make it appealing to today’s audiences of the popular entertainment business.
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 8000 active members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link And because we don’t do political debates on our Facebook group there is a separate group for debating Bob Dylan’s politics – Icicles Hanging Down
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