Bob Dylan: On His Way Home (Parts III and IV)

by Larry Fyffe

Characteristic of Post Modern art is its use of fragmented thinking; associations that fly off in all directions.

In the movie mentioned below, Gary Cooper, plays the part of Penny Day’s criminal father; he struggles with his conscience – (daughter Penelope played by Shirley Temple); he says of the police:

“They don’t look so bad close – not nearly as big as when you’re running away from them”

(Now And Forever)

A line messed with a bit in the following song lyrics:

What looks large at a distance
Close up ain't never that big
(Bob Dylan: Tight Connection To My Heart)

Gary Cooper stars in another movie; it’s about a western sheriff who’s abandoned by the townsfolk; he must  stand alone against outlaws with his conscience and his gun – a movie with David Crosby’s father as cinematographer, a film that’s made in the days when artists and actors be blacklisted by the House Committee On UnAmerican Activities.

The otherwise-abandoned sheriff is helped only by his Quaker gal who shoots down one of the bad guys.

The following song is featured in the film where the size of the clock matters:

Do not forsake me, oh my darling
Wait along, wait along
I do not know what fate awaits me
And I must face a man who hates me ....
Look at that big hand move along
Nearing high noon

(Tex Ritter: The Ballad Of High Noon ~ Washington/Tiomkin)

In the song lyrics below, ‘penny’ and ‘day’ pop up – but there’s no happy ending to an actual event – the hero therein is killed by an extremist Christian:

Doctor, doctor, tell me the time of day
Another bottle's empty, another penny spent
He turned and slowly walked away
They shot him in the back and down he went
Shine your light
Moving on

(Bob Dylan: Roll On John)

Bob Dylan On The Way Home (Part IV)

Though somewhat shrouded in the fog of history with the Great Vowel Shift and ‘nick names’ derived from rhymes, the decoding of the important cryptic key words such as  “penny” and “day” in the song lyrics of musician/ singer/songwriter Bob Dylan is as easy as falling off a log.

As previously noted, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump in time from the spelling and sound of Penny Day to Peggy Day, then to Maggie Day; and from there to Magdala and Magdalene.

Without the above historical knowledge of language, some Dylanologists dismiss some songs by Dylan out-of-hand; mischaracterize them as trivial ones.

For instance, many official interpretations of the New Testament Bible tag Mary of Magdala as either a prostitute or a reformed one who’s possibly still possessed by demons.

As a consequence, the following song actually has a deep cultural meaning behind it – is or isn’t Mary Magdalene a good girl?

Taking the song’s narrator to be Jesus (He affectionately calls his Father “Golly”), reformed Mary at first gets a thumbs up from Christ for her whitened-up purity:

Peggy Day stole my poor heart away
By golly, what more can I say
Love to spend the night with Peggy Day
(Bob Dylan: Peggy Day)

The trouble is that Golly’s Son can say more, and does; there’s the darkness of night hanging over Peggy/Maggie –  the shadow of a temptress, of the bejewelled Whore of Babylon no less:

Peggy night makes my future look so bright
Man, that girl is out of sight
Love to spend the day with Peggy night
(Bob Dylan: Peggy Day)

There’s a loud thunder clap heard in the mountains, and the religious take on Bob Dylan’s view of women becomes split in two forever and ever:

Well, you know ever even before I learned her name
You know I loved her just the same
And I tell'em all, wherever I may go
Just so they'll know that she's my little lady
And I love her so
(Bob Dylan: Peggy Day)

And that’s just how it goes:

What's your name?
Mine is Penny Day
(Shirley Temple/Gary Cooper: Now And Forever)

Honour bright!



  1. Intended the article as a bit of ‘satire-‘ but Tony”s videos pull the pieces together so well, organically, that it’s hard to tell….that’s a good thing.

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