Movies And The Post Modern Technique: Tight Connection To My Heart


by Larry Fyffe

A creative technique of Post Modernist poetry and song lyrics is to take a number of quotes collected from a variety of sources – from movie or television shows, for example -, and to reconstruct some sense of order out of the apparent chaos – double-edged meaning and irony often resulting therefrom.

A Post Modernist writer leaves it up to the listener or reader to seek an even more coherent unity in the work of art based on his or her internalized cultural values. Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye contends western art is permeated with themes that come from the Old and the New Testament.

Some listeners have difficulty understanding Bob Dylan’s song lyrics because he uses this Post Modernist technique – think that his lyrics make no sense because they are not interrelated enough – too fragmented, too broken, to form a unified theme extolled by the culture at large. Such listeners and readers are conditioned to a culture where language is ‘structuralized’. That is, there is an order – if not obverved in Nature itself, then at least there is an ordered structure in the language used to describe it.

Post Modernists take these Structuralists to task by holding that human language itself is plugged full of ìnherent contradictions. Everything is broken. It’s just that a particular culture imposes order on the language spoken and written which, in turn, imposes order on human society, and on the world of nature. Singer/sonwriter Bob Dylan takes these contrasting viewpoints and tests them out in the lyrics; creates tension within them.

‘Tight Connection To My Heart’ is a good example of how Dylan uses the Post Modern technique:

Well, I had to move fast
And I couldn’t with you around my neck
I said I’d send for you, and I did
What did you expect?
(Bob Dylan: Tight Connection To My Heart)

In a ‘film noir’ (a ‘Sirocco’ is a warm humid wind), Harry Smith (Humphrey Bogart), runs guns to Syrian rebels, and gets into trouble with the French authorities; Harry finds his relationship with Violette burdensome, but, given the circumstances, in the end he helps her to escape from the danger:

I’ve got to move fast: I can’t with you around my neck

A follower of Northrop Frye might interpret the movie in a conventional thematic way that’s more in tune with themes from the New Testament than those from the Old, i.e., God ends up saving His Son (represented by Violette) though at first He thinks that His Father (represented by Harry) has abandoned Him. In the end, Harry, as both Father and Son, becomes more loving, and sacrifices himself.

The singer songwriter draws another cue card from the deck of an adventure movie. A pirate captain, played by Anthony Quinn, is betrayed in a court of law by a child in order to save her own skin, and he’s executed by the authorities. Zac is first mate on the pirate ship.

The singer/ songwriter refers to a song of his own that alludes to an episode from the TV series ‘Star Trek’:

There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no release
(Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower)

Bob Dylan’s lyrics above and below can be interpreted as Jesus thinking His Father plays some kind of big joke on Him, and the Saviour’s not yet ready to forget about what the result was. After all, He’s been made to suffer on a cross:

I’ll go along with the charade
Until I can find my way out
I know it was all a big joke
Whatever it was about
Someday maybe
I’ll remember to forget
(Bob Dylan: Tight Connection To My Heart)

In the pirate adventure movie, at the end of the trail for murder, the captain of the pirates sardonically says to his first mate:

‘Zac, you must be guilty of something’
(A High Wind In Jamacia)

Easily considered an allusion to the trail of Jesus before Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea.

So sings Dylan:

I must be guilty of something
You just whisper it into my ear
(Bob Dylan: Tight Connection To My Heart)

Canadian actor William Shatner plays Captain James Kirk of the Star Ship ‘Enterprise’ – he’s faces false accusations in a medieval castle:

Lieutenant Sulu: ‘How long do we go along with this charade?”
Captain Kirk: “Until we can think our way out”
(Star Trek: ‘The Squire Of Gothos’)

‘Tight Connection To My Heart’ is open to the interpretation that God requires sinful humans in order to carry out His Big Plan – that is, to save sinners through the sacrifice of His Son on a bloody cross. At the end of the song, Dylan, or at least his persona, can be said to have second thoughts about the vampiric aspects of Gothic Christianity:

Never could learn to drink that blood
And call it wine
Never could hold you, love
And call you mine
(Bob Dylan: Tight Connection To My Heart)

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  1. Tight Connection is more like a plumbing technique
    It is hanging around the neck of the album cover

  2. I always preferred ‘Someone’s got a hold of my heart’ which at least sounds real; this re-write of the song didn’t work for me.

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