The Bobby Horror Picture Show

The Bobby Horror Picture Show

By Larry Fyffe

Though sometimes romantic, changing times can be scary. Dylan reproduces the latter feeling through pictures Gothic, word-movies of gloom and doom where lightning flash highlights crooked trees, delapidated buildings, rusty gates, decaying gardens, howling wolves, tolling church bells, and medieval hill-top castles. A horror film where decadent individuals, often grotesque and sexually deviant, roam the aisles after midnight while on the screen, mad aristocrats and crazed scientists experiment on the dead.

Bob Dylan whistles as he walks down the row of grave-yard seats:

“Take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time
Far past the frozen leaves
Out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow”

The sounds of a ghost pierces his ears:

“Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs
Where beauty cannot keep her
lustrous eyes”
(John Keats)

And a high-born ghost howls from the ruins of the balcony:

“A memory throws up high and dry
A crowd of twisted things
A twisted branch upon the beach
Eaten smooth and polished
As if the world gave up its skeleton
Stiff and white”
(TS Eliot: Rhapsody On A Windy Night)

Bobby’s date is injured by falling plaster, and he gently lifts Annabel, Frankie Lee’s beautiful sister, from her sepulcher by the seat:

“The wind howls like a hammer
The night blows cold and rainy
My love’s like some raven
At my window with a broken wing”

A dust-covered ghost screams, this time down by the neon exit sign:

“Leave my loneliness unbroken – quit the bust above my door
Take thy beak from out my heart, and
take thy form from off my door
Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’ ”
(Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven)

Outside in the streets, scenes of terror :

“At midnight all the agents and the super-human crew
Come out and round up everyone
that knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine is strapped across their shoulders, and then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles by insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping to
Desolation Row”

Dylan and his date manage to escape the crumbling building by running across the road to the movie-house  called  ‘Paradise’,  but it’s on  fire:

“In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned, and forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
And we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing”

‘Nighmare’, the main feature showing:

“I saw a new-born baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand  talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children”

And it’s a hard rain that’s gonna fall.

What else is on this site

1: Over 360 reviews of Dylan songs. 

2: The Dylan Chronologies.  

3: Bob Dylan’s themes.  .

4:   The Discussion Group    Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

5:  Bob Dylan’s creativity.

6: A classification of Bob Dylan’s songs and partial Index to Dylan’s Best Opening Lines

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