Dylan Obscuranti: the final track, and anyone fancy designing a cover?

By Tony Attwood

“Dylan Obscuranti” is an imaginary album, that I have created to highlight just a handful of tracks that Dylan has composed, and specific performances that he (and occasionally others) have given, which I think are sublime in themselves, and are not as well known as perhaps they should be.

Tracks 1 to 12 have been set out along with the “sleeve notes” as we used to call them.

Now my final track.  And for me it is Dylan’s riposte to his Christian excursions – “Making a liar out of me.”

Now you may not agree at all that this is a reply to his own Christian writing of the previous year, but then one of the absolutely great things of creating your own album is that you can, by and large, do what you want and follow any argument you want.

And for me this is an absolutely perfect end to an album.  Musically, it is simplicity itself.  The same vocal line over and over again, with just two chords.  The vocal line changes slightly to accommodate the lyrics, with each verse ending with the different final line to “You’re making a liar out of me.”

Just ask yourself, how on earth can anyone make a song out of the same vocal line sung over and over with only minor changes?

I tell people, you just going through changes
And that you're acquainted both with night and day
That your money's good and you just being courageous
On them burning bridges knowing your feet are made of clay
Well I say you won't be destroyed by your inventions
That you brought it all under captivity
And that you really do have all the best intentions
But you're making a liar out of me

Well I say that you just young and self-tormented
But that deep down you understand
The hopes and fears and dreams of the discontented
That threaten now to overtake your promised land
Well I say you'd not sow discord among brothers
Nor drain a man of his integrity
That you remember the cries of orphans and their mothers
But you're making a liar out of me
But you're making a liar out of me

Well I say that, that ain't flesh and blood you're drinking
In the wounded empire of your fool's paradise
With a light above your head forever blinking
Turning virgins into merchandise
That you must have been beautiful when you were living
You remind me of some old-time used-to-be
I say you can be trusted with the power you been given
But you're making a liar out of me

So many things so hard to say as you stumble
To take refuge in your offices of shame
As the earth beneath my feet begins to rumble
And your young men die for nothin', not even fame
I say that someday you'll begin to trust us
And that your conscience not been slain by conformity
That you stand up unafraid to believe in justice
But you're making a liar out of me
You're making a liar out of me

Well I can hear the sound of distant thunder
From an open window at the end of every hall
Now that you're gone I got to wonder
If you ever were here at all
I say you never sacrificed my children
To some false god of infidelity
And that it's not the Tower of Babel that you're building
But you're making a liar out of me
You're making a liar out of me
Well you're making a liar out of me

I have listened to this song a thousand times and still never tire of it – and indeed some time ago I wrote quite a long piece going through the meaning of the lyrics, so I’m not going to go through that all again.  It’s still on this site if you want it.

But I would say that there are just so many lines in this piece which endlessly mean something to me.  Not the same thing each time – but an endlessly evolving and moving set of meanings through phrases that have become part of my life since I first heard the song.  As an album ender it is perfection.

So let me, if I may, end my imaginary album notes to my imaginary album with a few of the lines above that still knock me out, and have become part of my life (if both can be true at the same time, which I rather doubt).

The hopes and fears and dreams of the discontented
That threaten now to overtake your promised land

As the earth beneath my feet begins to rumble
And your young men die for nothin', not even fame

Now that you're gone I got to wonder
If you ever were here at all

These lines mean something different to me each time I hear them.  They bring forth images seemingly suitable to one in his later years of life, when I find I do start to wonder about some of the things that happened in my past, but maybe didn’t…

That’s my album of lesser known Dylan songs that are with me day by day.   And if by any chance you would like to join in and provide an album cover as a jpg file, I would be honoured to add that to this collection.

If you have enjoyed this you might also enjoy

Dylan 1980: our created album of the great works of that year, which of course also includes the song highlighted here

Play lady Play – the ladies take on Bob’s songs.

Sheep in Wolves Clothing (the replacement to “Down in the Groove”)

Dylan’s lost 1966 album

Finally, if you have an idea for an alternative album of Dylan’s which you think could make an interesting series here, do say.  You can either write it all yourself, or come up with the idea and ask others to join in.

What else?

You can read about the writers who kindly contribute to Untold Dylan in our About the Authors page.   And you can keep an eye on our current series by checking the listings on the home page

You’ll also find, at the top of this page, and index to some of our series established over the years.  Series we are currently running include

  • The art work of Bob Dylan’s albums
  • The Never Ending Tour year by year with recordings
  • Beautiful Obscurity – the unexpected covers
  • All Directions at Once

You’ll find links to all of them on the home page of this site

If you have an article or an idea for an article which could be published on Untold Dylan, please do write to Tony@schools.co.uk with the details – or indeed the article itself.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with getting on for 10,000 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

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