Bob Dylan Looks Back On Rhyme (Part II)

By Larry Fyffe

Looking back at rhyme part 1

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.

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