Bob Dylan: Trying To Get To Heaven

by Larry Fyffe

The narrator in the following song lyrics just can’t comprehend why his fiery lust for a gal is not returned in kind:

When you are near
It's just as plain as it can be
I'm wild about you, gal
You ought to be a fool about me
(Bob Dylan: Spirit On The Water)

Likewise, so the situation is in the song lyrics below:

But Lord knows I'm a-wild about you, black gal
I'm just as crazy as I can be
Lord, Lord, I'm wild about you, black gal
You ought to be a fool about me
(Sonny Boy Williamson: Black Gal Blues)

In the next song lyrics, the narrator heads out after a relationship’s gone bad:

Might take a train, I might take a plane
But if I have to walk
I'll be going to Chicago just the same
I'm going to Chicago on the Western Road

(Bob Dylan: Western Road)

In the following song lyrics, the narrator can’t wait to be off to a  place where he’s sure there are lots of opportunities to meet “crazy little women”:

Well, I might take a train, I might take a plane
But if I have to walk
I'm going just the same
Going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
(Wilbert Harrison: Kansas City ~ Stoller/Leiber)

In the recording below the music begins at about 1′ 10″

In the lyrics beneath, cold floodwaters are a-rising where ‘hot wet’ women ought to be a-waiting the singer:

Big Joe Turner looking East and West
From the dark room of his mind
He made it to Kansas City
Twelfth Street and Vine
Nothing standing there

(Bob Dylan: High Water)

The bluesman’s songs include lines such as:

I'm like a one-eyed cat peeping in a seafood store

(Big Joe Turner: Shake, Rattle, And Roll ~ Calhoun)

Musta justa been a bit of bad luck. There’s gotta be a better place to meet easier woman than the place the narrator below is at now:

Gonna be standing on the corner
Twelfth Street and Vine
With my Kansas City baby
And a bottle of Kansas City wine
(Wilbert Harrison: Kansas City ~ Stoller/Lieber)

A philosophical explanation is needed to explain the present sorrowful state of male/female relationships.

In the following song, the watery female, the “spirit on the water”, corresponds to the  fiery male “standing on the corner” of the concrete sidewalk in Kansas City:

She messes up big time, hovers above the waves; fails to bring the balancing spirit of her male companion down with her from the mysterious rings of Swedenborg’s heavenly planes.

As a consequence of her emotionally wrought behaviour, land-bound humans lose the chance to bind back together in the divine bridal chamber of the sea.

Nevermore will that be.

A spectre similar to that of Edgar Allan Poe’s lost Lenore appears:

Spirit on the water
Darkness on the face of the deep
I keep thinking about you baby
I can hardly sleep
(Bob Dylan: Spirit On The Water)

And another:

Bertha Mason shook it, broke it
Then she hung it on a wall
Says, "You'll dance with whom they tell you to
Or you don't dance at all"
It's tough out there
(Bob Dylan: High Water)

Bertha’s a locked-up, mad woman from Charlotte Bronte’s novel “Jane Eyre”.

The Joker has the last laugh:

She could not leave her number, but I know who
placed the call
'Cause my uncle took the message, and he wrote 
it on the wall
(Chuck Berry: Memphis, Tennessee)

——

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