- I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You (2020) part 1
- I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You (2020) part 2
- I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You (2020) part 3
by Jochen Markhorst
IV I see thy glory
My eye is like a shooting star It looks at nothing here or there, looks at nothing near or far No one ever told me, it’s just something I knew I’ve made up my mind to give myself to you
“Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me)” (2001) is a fine rock song and the definitive breakthrough for Californian band Train. Two Grammy Awards, and the album, Train’s second LP Drops Of Jupiter is a resounding success: double platinum. The band is no shooting star. Excellent musicianship, charismatic singer, particularly strong hooks in catchy, melodic rock songs – Train has now been scoring one nice hit after another attractive flop after another millionseller for more than 20 years. And one of its strongholds is singer Pat Monahan’s poetic talent. Not so much in terms of depth and sophistication, but at least technically similar to Dylan; Monahan has a similar feel for euphony, a talent for unobtrusively integrating tried-and-tested stylistic devices, and a similar feel for fun rhyme inventions. Which we already see in the first hit, 1998’s “Meet Virginia”;
She doesn't own a dress, her hair is always a mess If you catch her stealin', she won't confess She's beautiful, she smokes a pack a day, wait that's me, but anyway She doesn't care a thing about that, hey She thinks I'm beautiful. Meet Virginia
… with seemingly casual but well-considered rhyme triplets (the next verse opens with She never compromises, loves babies and surprises / Wears hi-heels when she exercises), as we know from Dylan’s songs like “We Better Talk This Over” (The vows that we kept are now broken and swept / ‘Neath the bed where we slept), “Simple Twist Of Fate” or “Cold Irons Bound” (The walls of pride are high and wide / Can’t see over to the other side) – there are many examples and they can be heard in every decade of Dylan’s career. And Monahan, like Dylan, manages to maintain quality through the years. The 2009 world hit “Hey, Soul Sister” demonstrates just as much craftsmanship and linguistic delight, and a next world hit, “Drive By” in 2012, opens no less strongly:
On the other side of a street I knew Stood a girl that looked like you I guess that's déjà vu But I thought this can't be true 'cause You moved to west L.A., or New York or Santa Fe Or wherever, to get away from me
The love for smart quality lyrics does not come out of the blue, we understand from a Q&A in the Rolling Stone of 24 July 2003. Dad Monahan paved the way, Pat reveals:
“I was the last of seven kids, and my father was so obsessed with music that I’d walk in from school and he’d make me listen to records — make me listen to why a song was great. Stan Getz and Cal Tjader and Milt Jackson … He was very into words. Songs like ”Jeepers Creepers” — it’s fucking good — and ”Moon River,” where I think the words make the melody so amazing.”
“Moon River”, the song of which Dylan says in Chronicles: “My favorite of all the new ones was “Moon River”. I could sing that in my sleep,” and “Jeepers Creepers”, which Dylan considers one of the “big songs” in that same autobiography, among standards like “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and “The Very Thought Of You”… in any case, Dylan and Monahan share cultural baggage and taste as well.
A distinguishing quality of that breakthrough hit “Drops Of Jupiter” then is its consistency, in this case its perhaps old-fashioned but no less enjoyable fidelity to the motif “cosmos”. In terms of content, the lyrics are a put-down, a poetic account of an ordinary adultery jeremiad. The title comes along only once, in the opening (Now that she’s back in the atmosphere / With drops of Jupiter in her hair), but it does right from the start introduce that motif, which shoots by in every verse. And also in the chorus:
But tell me, did you sail across the sun? Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded And that Heaven is overrated? And tell me, did you fall for a shooting star? One without a permanent scar, and did you miss me While you were looking for yourself out there?
… with a relatively traceable use of the milked metaphor shooting star. At least, in both literature and song art, the image is commonly used for something like fleeting, transient fame. Often as a set piece symbolising impermanence, as in Dylan’s own 1989 “Shooting Star”. Or metaphorically, as in Bad Company’s “Shooting Star”, or Arlo Guthrie’s “Victor Jara”, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood’s “Sand” (one of the most beautiful songs on the forgotten, charming album Nancy & Lee, 1968).
Incidentally, Disney seems to associate the cosmic phenomenon, oddly enough, rather with something like “long journey”; both in Aladdin (I’m like a shooting star / I’ve come so far / I can’t go back to where I used to be, “A Whole New World”) and in Hercules (Like a shooting star, I will go the distance / I will search the world, I will face its harms, “Go The Distance”), it has nothing to do with “transience, fleeting fame”. As the Bard did teach us at the time:
Earl of Salisbury. Ah, Richard, with the eyes of heavy mind I see thy glory like a shooting star Fall to the base earth from the firmament. (Richard II, Act II, Scene 4)
All of them light years away, anyway, from the wondrous My eye is like a shooting star / It looks at nothing here or there, looks at nothing near or far in the fourth verse of Dylan’s “I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You”.
Odd on several fronts. To begin with, the singular is oddly chosen. Whether they are seductive, or spitting fire, or twinkling like stars: eyes are always plural. The communication with the singular “My eye is …” suggests either a one-eyed protagonist, or pushes the associations towards “evil eye”, “third eye”, something like that. A far-fetched possibility could be that the singer wants to incorporate the ambiguity “My I” as in “my self” – which in itself would give some poetic beauty to both shooting star and the follow-up line – but it is ultimately far too laborious. In that case the poet could have simply chosen “I am like a shooting star”.
And the second peculiarity is the metaphorical charge. In the official publication of the lyrics, on the site, the explanatory line has been shortened from It looks at nothing here or there, looks at nothing near or far to It looks at nothing, neither near or far, which makes no further difference in terms of content, of course. Apparently, the image of “shooting star” was chosen to express something like “randomness, purposelessness” or, indeed, “disinterest”. Which all fits spectacularly poorly with the tenor of the song – after all, this is a very interested narrator who has made the very deliberate, purposeful decision to give himself to “you”.
However, it does suit an entertainer who, from Salt Lake City to Birmingham and from East L.A. to San Antone, gives himself to the audience, never seeking eye contact with those present. An entertainer who looks at nothing here or there, looks at nothing near or far.
Hmm… sounds familiar. Could it be that biographical interpreters perhaps score a second point here?
To be continued. Next up I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You part 5:
Jochen is a regular reviewer of Dylan’s work on Untold. His books, in English, Dutch and German, are available via Amazon both in paperback and on Kindle:
- Blood on the Tracks: Dylan’s Masterpiece in Blue
- Blonde On Blonde: Bob Dylan’s mercurial masterpiece
- Where Are You Tonight? Bob Dylan’s hushed-up classic from 1978
- Desolation Row: Bob Dylan’s poetic letter from 1965
- Basement Tapes: Bob Dylan’s Summer of 1967
- Mississippi: Bob Dylan’s midlife masterpiece
- Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits
- John Wesley Harding: Bob Dylan meets Kafka in Nashville
- Tombstone Blues b/w Jet Pilot: Dylan’s lookin’ for the fuse
- Street-Legal: Bob Dylan’s unpolished gem from 1978
- Bringing It All Back Home: Bob Dylan’s 2nd Big Bang
- Time Out Of Mind: The Rising of an Old Master
- Crossing The Rubicon: Dylan’s latter-day classic