by Larry Fyffe
27: Lem The Clam
“Tarantula” by Bob Dylan has the “Beat” style and content of writer William Burroughs splashed all over it.
For example, Dylan’s written words “Lem the Clam tho, he really gives a damn if dale evans does get nailed slamming down the scotch” (Tarantula) clearly echo, with a smile, Burroughs’ “Hear Clem and Cash, down in the Everglades of Florida get their jollies killing wild pigs with knives” (The Cat Inside).
Many of Dylan’s allusions likely make direct reference to actual associates (ie, Harold, Maurice) of the addict-turned-killer.
However, actual biographical details are not required to draw allegorical meaning from the personalized, and modernized, mythology of Dylan’s “Thus Spake Tarantula”.
Therein, anarchist/antichrist Moan sends Lacky up from the pits of the Abyss to rid the capitalist organization above of Medusa, a beautiful female creature who distracts male workers from focusing on their jobs – she turns them, or at least parts of them, into stone.
As instructed, Lacky holds up a mirrored shield to protect himself from the direct gaze of Medusa; then he cuts off her snake-covered head:
Medusa going into a room with two swords above the door - some removable mirrors inside - Medusa disappears ... Lacky, a strange counterpart of the organization - he comes out of the room carrying a mirror (Bob Dylan: Tarantula)
Alas, works alone do not please the Amighty One ~ the two knives fall down, and one slices not-so-lucky Lacky in half.
The warning in the lines beneath ignored:
But the two-handed engine at the door Stands ready to smite once And smite no more (John Milton: Lycidas)
There’s no place safe to turn:
“(B)y noon, we’re in Abyss Hallway” (Tarantula), and before evening we’re headed for “the judgement hall of Christ” (Precious Angel).
There’s just no escape ~ righteous Bible-thumping authorities follow mortals right down into the earth-filled grave:
Temptation's not an easy thing Adam given the devil reign Because he sinned, I got no choice It run in my vein (Bob Dylan: Pressing On)
Indeed, death is not the end:
Leaving men wholly, totally free To do anything they wish to do, but die (Bob Dylan: Gates Of Eden)
28: An Untold Production: Tyrantula, The Motion Picture
Directed by L.J. Fyffe
Narrated by Sandy Bob
There was New York Jake, the butcher's boy He was always getting tight (Bob Dylan: Days Of Forty-nine ~ traditional)
Aka ~ “The Flesh”
Peewee the Ear … him & Jake the Flesh
– along with Sandy Bob from Pecos
And here they come … there’s an American group of ‘champagne musicians’, led by a German-speaking player of the accordion, marching toward New York City in search of Fatty Aphrodite’s shadow on Groundhog Day:
(T)he lawrence welk people Inside the window, they're running the city planning division & they hibernate & feeding their summers by conversing with poor people's shadows & other ambulance drivers
They strike up the band with a traditional tune:
Here she comes around the mountain … the piano-playing soul singer who strays not that far from the Lord’s furry group of groundhogs:
(A)retha with no goals, eternally single
& one step soft of heaven
I'm only one step ahead of heartbreak One step ahead of misery One step is all I have to take backwards To be the same old fool for you I used to be (Aretha Franklin: One Step ~ Singleton/Snyder)
And lookie here … three guys and a gal from Australia, consoling Obie, Fatty’s funny buckteethed boyfriend:
(B)y the the way, I've heard you live in a world of your own yes, it's true, says Obie & also don't go to birthday parties
Whose lament goes like this:
Close the door, light the light We're staying home tonight ... And we'll live in a world of our own (The Seekers: We Live In A World Of Our Own ~ T. Springfield)
Paid tribute in the following song lyrics:
Close your eyes, close the door You don't have to worry anymore I'll be your baby tonight (Bob Dylan: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight)
More missy minstrels mentioned:
(C)rooked betty & volcano the leg here they come - theyre popped out and theyve been crying in the chapel
All the singers searching in the vain for Fatty Aphrodite the lost groundhog; everyone’s sobbing, including an apparently cross-dressed Pelvis:
I searched and I searched But I couldn't find No way on earth to find peace of mind Now I'm happy in the chapel Where people are of one accord (Elvis Presley: Crying In The Chapel ~ A. Glenn)
Another tearful songster, known as Peewee, gets a nod:
(W)ho should come by but the little ole winemaker trying to be helpful
His song, a sorrowful one:
When they asked me who's in the corner Crying I say, "The little ole wine drinker me" (Charlie Walker: Little Ole Wine Drinker Me ~ Mills/Jennings)
To sum up ~ Fatty’s dismembered body is discovered in a Nashville alleyway.
Butcher Jake’s done in by old Brown Dan:
(W)ho by this time is beating Jake the Flesh to death with a hacksaw
There’s a happy ending though; Daisy Mae and Li’l Abner finally get married in the chapel:
You daisy mae who are not even one of the masses
- 1: Tarantula
- 2: The Tarantula Crawls Across The Circus Floor and 3: Arachnida Is Dead
- 4: The Bride and 5: The Return of Tarantula
- 6: Everybody loves a critic and 7: Hopalong Bob
- 8: Mad, Bad, And A Stranger To Know and 9: Miss Lucy And Mr. Jinx
- 10: A Madder Piece From Ginsberg Street and 11: The Long Dark Stranger
- 12: More Mixed Up Confusion and 13: Oval Faubus
- 14: A tattletale Heart; and 15: Tarzantula
- 16: Tarantula: “Shake that Spear” and 17: “Hopalong Bob”
- 18: The Tale Of Dale And Debbie and 19: The Golden Gate
- 20: Your Harmless Fate and 21: Thelonius
- 22: the Egotist and 23: The Lord of the Spiders
- 24: Cream Cheese and 25 Davy Crocker
- 26: The Lumberjacks Are Coming