Monday, November 14, 2016

Dylan- My Next Ten

He was speechless and will try to be there. Good enough for me.

So, with the attention on Dylan, I continue with the next ten of my favorite Dylan songs. I am doing it in chronological order. Last time I covered basically his first decade. That means these ten come from 40 years instead of 50. I didn't look up how many songs he wrote in the first ten as compared to the last 40. It really doesn't matter. There are many different Dylans and the most significant overall was probably the several who showed up in the beginning.

That doesn't mean he wasn't still the outstanding poet. He just did it with a different style. I was also not as tuned into what Dylan was doing in most of these past 40 years. But let's just ignore all that. These are my favorites. So it's my list.

Reflecting- By 1973 Dylan was more reflective. Writing a score for a movie about Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid gave him a chance to do some thinking about changes of icons. He wrote a benediction-style song and reflected on the storms and where he could go for safety. The words are just as powerful as his earlier songs, but by now he was not breaking new ground so much as expanding the ideas.
11. Knockin' on Heaven's Door (1973)

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door
 12. Forever Young (1974)
 May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young
13. Shelter from the Storm (1975)
’Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”...

In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
I bargained for salvation an’ they gave me a lethal dose
I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”
 Born Again- Then he became a Christian. Some good music, good words, but they weren't quite the same. These two are representative. One was whimsical with an edge. The other translated his earlier understanding of our human requirement into his new religious language.
14. Man Gave Names to All the Animals (1979)
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, in the beginning.
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, long time ago.

He saw an animal that liked to growl,
Big furry paws and he liked to howl,
Great big furry back and furry hair.
"Ah, think I'll call it a bear."

He saw an animal as smooth as glass
Slithering his way through the grass.
Saw him disappear by a tree near a lake . .
15. Gotta Serve Somebody (1979)
You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody...

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say

You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Transition- I have only one song from the 80s and 90s, not because of Dylan, but because I wasn't paying attention. Other things were going on. But maybe Dylan knew that as well. I have no idea if he was talking about mid-life, me, the world, or the Reagan era, but this song seems to reach out in the midst of all that.
16. Everything is Broken (1989)
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken

Seem like every time you stop and turn around
Something else just hit the ground...

Broken hands on broken ploughs
Broken treaties, broken vows
Broken pipes, broken tools
People bending broken rules
Hound dog howling, bullfrog croaking
Everything is broken 
Still Moving- The last three are from the last decade or so as Dylan moved into "elderhood." His voice changed significantly; his style moving into a combination of lounge singer, wise elder, and cynical observer. Was Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum the presidential candidates of 2000? Was the levee in New Orleans? Was the thunder on the mountain ringing from Afghanistan? Or was it just Dylan writing poetry that sounded good? Whatever it was, he still had the spark.
17. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (2001)
Living in the Land of Nod
Trustin’ their fate to the Hands of God
They pass by so silently
Tweedle-dee Dum and Tweedle-dee Dee

Well, they’re going to the country, they’re gonna retire
They’re taking a street car named Desire
Looking in the window at the pecan pie
Lot of things they’d like they would never buy...

Well a childish dream is a deathless need
And a noble truth is a sacred dream
My pretty baby, she’s lookin’ around
She’s wearin’ a multi-thousand dollar gown
Tweedle-dee Dee is a lowdown, sorry old man
Tweedle-dee Dum, he’ll stab you where you stand
“I’ve had too much of your company,”
Says Tweedle-dee Dum to Tweedle-dee Dee
18. Levee’s Gonna Break (2006)
If it keep on rainin' the levee gonna break
If it keep on rainin' the levee gonna break
Some of these people don't know which road to take

When I'm with you I forget I was ever blue
When I'm with you I forget I was ever blue
Without you there's no meaning in anything I do

Some people on the road carrying everything that they own
Some people on the road carrying everything that they own
Some people got barely enough skin to cover their bones
19. Thunder on the Mountain (2006)
Thunder on the mountain, rolling like a drum
Gonna sleep over there, that's where the music coming from
I don't need any guide, I already know the way
Remember this, I'm your servant both night and day

The pistols are poppin' and the power is down
I'd like to try somethin' but I'm so far from town
The sun keeps shinin' and the North Wind keeps picking up speed
Gonna forget about myself for a while, gonna go out and see what others need

I've been sitting down studying the art of love
I think it will fit me like a glove
I want some real good woman to do just what I say
Everybody got to wonder what's the matter with this cruel world today

Thunder on the mountain rolling to the ground
Gonna get up in the morning walk the hard road down
Some sweet day I'll stand beside my king
I wouldn't betray your love or any other thing
20. Duquesne Whistle (2012)
Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like she ain't gon' blow no more

Can't you hear that Duquesne whistle blowing?
Blowing like the sky's gonna blow apart
You're the only thing alive that keeps me going
You're like a time bomb in my heart

I can hear a sweet voice steadily calling
Must be the mother of our Lord
I will deal with the three iconic songs next month.

Beyond these and the three iconic songs I will talk about next month, I know there are some significant songs I have not listed- Gates of Eden, Desolation Row, Visions of Johanna, With God on Our Side, Mississippi, Hurricane. But then it would have gotten to my Top 30 or 40 or whatever. I had to put a stop to it sometime.

Until then, I am just going to enjoy his music- and maybe even dig into some of those "transition" years and see if there was more there.

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