Tom Tom & Phaedra (The Tarantula Files 44 & 45)

by Larry Fyffe

Mauricie and Paul Zimmerman be two of Bob Dylan’s uncles, brothers of his father Abe.

So an analyser of Dylan’s technically-musicless book “Tarantula” might suggest that there’s some auto/biographical material therein:

& men going outside with Maurice
who ain't the Peoria Kid
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

Uncles Maurice and Paul set up an electric appliance business in Hibbing, Minnesota.

And that’s all there is folks, ye sons of vermits!

Instead,  Bob Buckley Darwin sails the Jungian seas; he turns out to be a monkey’s uncle who often docks his boat where there are strange, cartoonish parties going on all the time:

Well, I set my monkey on the log
And  ordered him to do the dog
He wagged his tail, and shook his head
And he went and did the cat instead
(Bob Dylan: I Shall Be Free No. 10)

Parties where men in black masks get saddled up by Asian women who think they’re in the Ireland, the land of of lore:

& she say "yeah man I be a yellow monkey ooweel"
& he say "you just folly me baby snooks! jus you
folly me & you feel fine!"
& she say "giddy up & hi ho silver
& i feel irish"
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

In ”Tarantula”, everything from biblical verses to nursery rhymes merge:

Tom, Tom, the piper's son
Stole a pig, and away he run
The pig was eat, and Tom was beat
And Tom went running down the street
(Tom The Piper's Son ~ nursery rhyme)

Perhaps below the royal muse Melodius from the biblical days of King David be happy that Tom Tom’s beaten up for eating pork.

But she’s not amused that Tom Tom escapes further punishment:

Josie said everybody at the trial came with a blow gun
... Tom Tom made Melodius hate him, then jumped
from a window
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

Now that’s certainly not the way things turn out in regards to the worshippers of Baal in ancient Northern Israel.

According to the Holy Bible, the Hebrew non-eaters of “overly-reproductive” pigs regain power there:

And she (Jezebel) painted her face, and tired her head
And looked out the window ....
And he (Jehu) said, "Throw her down"
So they threw her down
And some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall
And on the horses
And he trod her under foot
(II Kings 9:30,33)

Nonetheless, Jezebel, presented as the archetypical lip-sticked sow, shows up later in the New Testament:

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee
Because though sufferest that woman Jezebel
Which calleth herself a prophetess
To teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication
And to eat things sacrificed unto idols
(Revelation 2: 20)

Indeed! From out of Carl Jung’s shadowy world break loose all kinds of bloodied vampiric themes ~ criss-crossed; confused.

And dark humoured:

... Jezebel the nun, she violently knits
A bald wig for Jack the Ripper ...
(Bob Dylan: Tombstone Blues)


Muddled up, often humorous, allusions be the hallmark of Bob Dylan’s “Tarantula”.

  1. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” gets reviewed by the narrator in the following lines.
(F)inally read the great glaspy - helluva book
just a helluva one - that cat sure tells it
like it is, not much happening around here
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

The novel above referred to later on in these song lyrics below:

She say, "You can't repeat the past"
I say, "You can't? What do you mean, 'you can't '
Of course,  you can"
(Bob Dylan: Summer Days)

Jay Gatsby’s line goes, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can”.

The  quote from “Tarantula” beneath alludes to ancient mythology (texts from different editions of the Dylan book vary):

Phaedra pounding her knuckles into a piece of water
- scratching her snake bites
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

The Greek/Roman goddess Venus puts a curse on mortal Phaedra that makes her lust after her own stepson.

That mythological story obliquely referenced in the following song – it might be suggested:

Well, Phaedra with her looking glass ....
She gets all messed up, then she faints
That's 'cause she's so obvious, and you ain't
(Bob Dylan: I Wanna Be Your Lover)

Referenced again below:

"(L)ove is magic" says Phaedra
- Funky Phaedra - Rabbit dont say nothing
- Weep the Greed says "go to it gal!"
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

Mighty mythology modernized:

(T)here is no more room in the car
- phaedra scrowls & she bellows
"love is going plumb insane"
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)

Could it be that Phaedra above refers to an actual person ~ alive, outside the book?

No one knows, for sure.

Unlike, of course, the two people mentioned below:

(A)nnette & frankie avalon found in pacific ocean
- hands tied behind their backs
(Bob Dylan: Tarantula)


  1. * computer mistake – man i (not man I)

    Some versions “mani” ~ Mani, a Persian phrophet? ~ or just a typo

    Also printed, “oowee!”

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