The Tarantula Files parts 6 and 7

By Larry Fyffe

Part 6: Mad, Bad, And A Stranger To Know

(C)ompared to the big day
when you discovered lord
byron shooting craps
in the morgue
with his pants off
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

Byronic Man stays down in a dark hole most of the time.

‘Cept when he comes out to bite someone he wants to digest.

Said it might be that when atop his doghouse – wearing his “Tarantula” cape -, singer/songwriter/musician Bob Dylan is a self-centred Rimbaudian Poe-it, shooting popguns at everyone but himself.

But no…praise be to Neptune ~ though critical, the narrator also places himself on Desolation Row.

Below, lines about the protest songs of the day –  mocked be one because it’s a traditional lullaby that’s supposed to stir up the masses.

Snappy Snoopy is out for blood:

(I) gave my love a cherry
sure you did
did you ask her how it tasted
you also gave her a chicken
n wonder you want to start a revolution

(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

Watered-down rhetoric surfaces as protest against the bourgeois establishment:

I gave my love a cherry
That has no stone
I gave my love a chicken
That has no bone
I gave my love a story that has no end
And I gave my love a baby
That has no crying
(Pete Seeger: The Riddle Song ~ traditional)

“Crying-in-your-beer” country-and- western songs of the run-down members of the industrial working class, drawn away from their green romantic pastures, be another target of the bowman’s arrows:

(T)hrew away all of my lefty frizzell records
also got rid of my parka
you can keep my cow as I am now
on my road to freedom
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

An example beneath of a hard-drinking city man:

If I only knew where to find her
I'd crawl there on my hands and knees
Each tick of the clock's a reminder
She's one second farther from me
She's gone, gone, gone
Gone, gone , gone
(Lefty Frizzell: She's Gone Gone Gone ~ Howard)

Time passes slowly so the Tarantula puts his cynical time-machine in obverse – at least for a while, he does:

I've been hanging onto threads
I've been playing it straight
Now, I've just got to cut loose
Before it's too late
So I'm going
I'm going
I'm gone
(Bob Dylan: Going, Going, Gone)

For him, Christian hymns be not the opiate of the masses, but, hiding in the hemlock, the poisonous snake that curbs the desire that flows trough the heart of lonely individuals.

At the singer below stones are thrown, but she’s unsinkable – her Ship of Souls moves on (Franklin was torn between Jupiter and Apollo):

pegged by choir boys
& other pearls of mamas
as too gloomy
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

Part 7: Miss Lucy And Mr. Jinx

Said it could be that the pilgrims in Bob Dylan’s “Tarantula, on their way to New York City, are joined by one-legged satirist Al Capps, creator of the cartoon “Li’l Abner”;

From a Jewish background, the cartoonist becomes rich and famous ~ mocks Vietnam War protesters.

Further said it could be that Dylan burlesques Capp because the cartoonisrt becomes so mean-spirited.

Dylan writes the following antiwar lyrics:

Oh, his face was all shot up, and his hand was all blown off
And he wore a metal brace around his waste
He whispered kind of slow in a voice she did not know
While she couldn't even recognize his face
(Bob Dylan: John Brown)

In “Tarantula”, there’s Brown Dan who’s obversely given the the initials BD. Unable to go off to a foreign war where he could get his face blown off, Brown Dan sure knows how to deal with those anti-war protesters in America whom he claims support the Viet Cong.

When they come down to “Tex’s-ass”, that is:

(O)nward then when Brown Dan, the creep cop
who likes to kill bullfrogs
& whose boss keeps saying "he's got a bad knee but
you oughta see him run, babe
you oughta see'm run & chase them little chink
lovers when they come down the river"
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

Dylan’s living in Hibbing, Minnesota, with his Jewish parents, when the Suez Crisis happens; and the Ford Motor Company introduces the Edsel automobile.

Anti-Israel president Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal with the rhetorical support of Britain’s American cousins who criticize the Israeli, French, and British invasion of Egypt. A bit later, the American-made car Edsel turns out to be a ‘lemon’, not so the British-made Jaguar.

History obviously burlesqued in “Tarantula”.

“Peewee” therein perhaps the personification of America:

Peewee drops his cookies
as up drives an XKE with Sandy Bob's cousin, Sandy
Slim, who shows everybody his pictures of Nasser
& says " hold it boys, I know all about these things
- I used to work at the edsel factory"
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

As Dylan’s book is ‘bootlegged’ before being officially published, conjectured it can be that ‘Peewee’ becomes the name of Al Capp’s cartoon character who’s a spoof of ‘wishy-washy’ Charlie Brown (from “Peanuts’, the newspaper cartoon by Charles Schultz).

In “Peanuts”, Lucy is always pulling away the football when Charlie Brown runs to kick it; in “Li’l Abner”, Joe Btfsplk, with a black cloud always over his head, is “The world’s worst Jinx!!”.

The two bathe in Jungian waters:

Mr. Jinx and Miss Lucy,
They jumped in the lake
I'm not that eager to make a mistake
(Bob Dylan: Things Have Changed)



One comment

  1. There’s also bejewelled Miss Lucy from “Sweet Bird of Youth”
    And Mr. Jinx, the cartoon cat

    *satirist Al Capp, creator of …
    **no wonder you want …

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