Bob Dylan And The Cockroaches

By Larry Fyffe

Dylanologists who are followers of conventional Christian beliefs twist the lyrics of certain songs by Bob Dylan to make them ‘fit in’; however, when listened to without the encumbrance of standard religious doctrines, the lyrics tend to reveal a mystical, a ‘gnostic’ search for ‘wisdom’ – a wisdom that is garnered by lucky ones through knowledge of ancient religions and mythologies.

Thinkers like Emanuel Swedenborg, Pyotre Ouspensky, and Carl Jung account for a Universe in which God appears to dance with the Devil by linking up  microcosmic aspects thereof with the microcosmic.

Akin to Frederich Nietzsche and William Yeats, and even in a song that’s written especially for children, singer/songwriter Bob Dylan presents images on the microcosmic level of an individual who copes with a life, a life that, according to some mystics, recurs over and over again for all eternity – a cosmological  view that’s unlike the main form of  Christainity that envisions a life linear, ending in a permanent ‘afterlife’:

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle like a bowl of soup
Wiggle,  wiggle, wiggle like a rolling hoop
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle like a ton of lead
Wiggle, you can raise the dead

(Bob Dylan: Wiggle, Wiggle)

Accordingly, such mystics express, in unique spiritual visions, a love for life,  and a coping with dark situations in which one finds him or herself by kicking up their boot heels rather than settling for a life of utter drudgery in the land of the living dead –  a better life in some external hereafter is a mirage; what’s in one’s head is what matters:

Wiggle till you’re high, wiggle till you’re higher
Wiggle till you vomit free
Wiggle till it whispers, wiggle till it hums
Wiggle till it answers, wiggles till it comes

(Bob Dylan: Wiggle, Wiggle)

In short, fear not life – dance with Satan who dresses in satin and silk:

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle like satin and silk
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle like a pail of milk
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, rattle and shake
Wiggle like a big fat snake

(Bob Dylan: Wiggle, Wiggle)

An Australian Rolling Stone-influenced bar band clean up the lyrics of one of their songs called ‘Everybody Wiggle’, written by John Fields, and put it out on a record suitable for children:

Get ready to wiggle
We’ve been ready for so long
Get ready to wiggle
When you wiggle you can’t go wrong
Get ready to wiggle
Wiggle will make you big and strong
Come on wiggle to this song

Wiggle to this song

(The Cockroaches: Get Ready To Wiggle)

Through many a dark hour, I’ve been thinking about this due to the recurring rhymes in the two songs; their themes both appear to be a wild Dionysiac search for ‘gnostic’ wisdom with the end rhymes ‘long/wrong/strong’ suggesting a macroscopic connection with The Cockroaches, an archetypal coincidence, for sure:

Ain’t no rhyme or reason
I know it can’t be wrong
It was supposed to last a season
But it was so strong
Ah, for so long
God knows there’s a purpose
God knows there’s a chance
God knows we can rise above the darkest hour
Of any circumstance

(Bob Dylan: God Knows)

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  1. Dylan himself says “Wiggle Wiggle” is a song about fishing …

    Perhaps referring to:

    And He saith unto them:
    “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
    (Book of Matthew 4:19)

  2. More likely because Gary Cooper nicknamed energetic Shirley Temple “Wiggle Britches”; they starred in the movie “Now And Forever” from which Dylan borrows the line about things not looking so large when closer up for his song ‘Tight Connection To My Heart.”

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