Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell part II

The Ballad of Frankly and Joni

by Larry Fyffe

Charles Darwin dumps a bucket of water, his “Theory of Evolution”, onto the fire of the Romantic Transcendentalist writers’ attempts to save God. What’s worse, Darwin’s Theory is transformed into an explanation of the human condition.

Even  within the micro-world of the creative arts, there are those artists, with wings spread like an eagle, who survive, and those, not so talented, who vanish forever into oblivion:

He watches from his mountain walls
And like a thunderbolt he falls
(Lord Tennyson: The Eagle)

It’s a world in where female artists struggle to survive under the talons of a patriarchal social system.

But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

In the lines below, a female Canadian singer/songwriter turns the tables, depicts herself as a female eagle, albeit with claws withdrawn, and criticizes singer/songwriter Bob Dylan for apparently criticizing her for having just stepped down off the turnip truck – for being too much of a romantic idealist:

But now it's cloak and dagger
Walk on eggshells and analyse
Every particle of difference
Ah, gets like mountains in your eyes
(Joni Mitchell: Good Friends)

 

Referring to the following lyrics:
The cloak and dagger dangles
Madame light the candles
In the ceremonies of the horsemen
Even the pawn must hold a grudge
(Bob Dylan: Love Minus Zero)

Missing the chance to note that the American songster twists a line from a poem-play by a famous Welsh poet:

The meadows still as Sunday
The shut-eye tasselled bulls
The goat, and daisy dingles
Nap happy and lazy
(Dylan Thomas: Under The Milk Wood)

The Canadian songster seems not beyond lifting conceits herself from an alliterative American Baroque poet of yore:

Turn inside out, and turn your eyes within
Your sins like motes in the sun do swim: nay, see
Your mites are molehills, molehills mountains be
(Edward Taylor: The Accusation Of The Inward Man)

Anyway, someone’s sneaking around the corner, and could that someone be Darin – or rather Darwin rife with tooth and claw:

You've got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend
When I was down and out, you just stood there grinning
You've gotta a lotta nerve to say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on the side that's winning
(Bob Dylan: Positively Fourth Street)

Of the ‘you’ in the lyrics, says a Dylanologist ~ to wit, the folk fan above:

“…. metonymically represents the entire group of people who denigrate the celebratity status that Bob Dylan has gained from indulging in the pop-electronic medium.”

(Louis A. Renza: Dylan’s Autobiography Of A Vocation)

Jungianly bringing it all back home to:

And genius, clear and countless as the dies
Upon a peacock's plumage, taste refined
Wisdom and wit, were his - perhaps much more
'Twas strange they had not found it out before
(Fitz-Greene Halleck: Fanny)

Publisher’s note…

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