Bob Dylan: A Shot Of Love. The weaponry in Dylan’s songs

 

By Larry Fyffe

Quintessential to Americana be the issue of gun ownership. Of this fact, singer/songwriter Bob Dylan is well aware:

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, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

(Bob Dylan: It’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall)

Guns have their good points –  they come in handy when seeking revenge in a fictional narrative involving a love triangle:

No one knew the circumstances but they say it
happened pretty quick
The door to the dressing room burst open and
a cold revolver clicked

(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary,  And The Jack Of Hearts)

Likewise, guns are rumoured to be a useful tool with which to make money:

They say I shot a man named Gray
And took his wife to Italy
She inherited a million bucks
And when she died it came to me

(Bob Dylan: Idiot Wind)

And the truth of the matter is that most outlaws of the old West were misunderstood rebels who were forced to carry guns for their own protection:

John Wesley Harding was a friend to the poor
He travelled with a gun in every hand
All along the countryside, he opened many a door
But he was never known to hurt an honest man

(Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding)

Be warned, however, that  killing people with guns may bring on feelings of remorse when the gunman gets older:

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore
That cold black cloud is comin’ down
Feel like I’m knockin’ on Heaven’s door

(Bob Dylan: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door)

Remember that it’s always wise to carry an extra gun when you’re on the run with your sweetheart in a tale of romance:

Quick, Magdalena, take my gun
Look up in the hills, that flash of light
Aim well, my little one
We may not make it through the night

(Bob Dylan: Romance In Durango)

To express their anti-authoritarianism in modern times, gangsters carry guns and use them, though they too may later show remorse:

It was true that in his later years, he would
not carry a gun
‘I’m around too many children’, he’d say
‘They should never know of one’

(Bob Dylan: Joey)

Most important of all, without guns there’d still be slavery in America:

And the Civil War, too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I was made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side

(Bob Dylan: With God On Our Side)

Worry not – if there’s any racial injustice today when someone gets blasted away by a gun – the truth will out:

No one doubted he pulled the trigger
And though they could not produce the gun
The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed

(Bob Dylan: Hurricane)

Funny though it may be, owning a gun is important for self-defence in America regardless of whether or not there is any reasonable apprehension of danger:

Well out comes a farmer
He must have thought that I was nuts
He immediately looked at me
And stuck a gun into my guts

(Bob Dylan: Motor Psycho Nightmare)

Finally, a gun makes a good simile in reference to a lovers’ quarrel; whether the quarrel be real or imagined, a shot of love will settle things quite nicely:

Do you think I still got what you still got, baby?
My voice is really warm
It’s just that it ain’t got any form
It’s like a dead man’s last pistol shot, baby

(Bob Dylan: She’s Your Lover Now)

Next time around, we’ll take a look at the bad side of owning a gun.

What else is on the site?

You’ll find an index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

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