Bob Dylan: It’s Not Just The Sound (Part llI)

By Larry Fyffe

Many of the songs previously mentioned are in the form of dramatic monologues that reveal the characteristics of the narrator thereof; some would claim of the author himself.

Though observed previously by a number of analysts of Bob Dylan’s songs and music, after he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, more and more recently published books recognize that the singer/songwriter/musician, whether directly or indirectly, draws from the artistic well of high and low works of literature (including traditional ballads) from which he often creates his own thematic variations thereon.

If I may indulge myself for a moment, it’s about time – noticed by me long ago:

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

The somewhat similar song lyrics below cannot be by pure coincidence:

The cloak and dagger dangles
Madams light the candles
(Bob Dylan: Love Minus Zero)

I noticed too that another Dylan song gives a nod to a poem by Edward Taylor.

Perhaps, the following song lyrics suggest the author thereof notices the same thing:

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

That poem being:

Your want clear spectacles: your eyes are dim
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)

In any event, the strikingly similar lines be:

With your silhouette when the sunlight dims
Into your eyes where the moonlight swims
(Bob Dylan: Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands)

And more power to Bob Dylan for bringing these artists of yore to the attention of his readers and listeners.

Including a thematic twist on the “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe:

My love she's like some raven 
At my window with a broken wing
(Bob Dylan: Love Minus Zero)

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