Monday, May 12, 2008

Some Inspirational Thoughts on Blonde on Blonde...

When I was 14 and my brother was getting ready to go on his mission, I hurried and made some trips to Radioshack to buy some blank 90 min cassette tapes so I could copy some of his cd's before he packed them all up and didn't want me to touch them. One of the tapes I made was Blonde on Blonde. This album has been a timeless masterpiece and a source of continual inspiration to me. It's the kind of album that I can listen to for years and years and never get sick of. I listen to it still, in fact, this morning. Unlike a lot of other albums I was into when I was 14, I don't just listen to this for nostalgic purposes. It still affects me. I don't claim to be any kind of Dylan expert, but to me his tone in this album has a sarcastic, bitter edge--like someone has who has been deeply wounded but is only passively able to admit it. There are lyrics in this album that have stuck with me for over 10 years since I first started listening to it. And just like old Mormon ladies and their fascination with James Christensen paintings, I keep discovering some new magical tidbit that I never noticed before and it inspires me. I'm going to remark on some of the album highlights for me.
First of all, Rainy Day Women #12 & 35... no offense Bob. I think you're a genius and this album is nearly flawless, but I almost always skip this song. For some reason it doesn't sit right with me. I allow myself one skip on every Bob Dylan album. Blood on the Tracks--Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts. New Morning--When Dogs Run Free. You get the picture. Anyway. Moving on...
Visions of Johanna--beautiful, beautiful song. Never in all my days on this earth will I get tired of this song. My favorite line that I've loved since high school is, "Inside the museum, infinity goes up on trial. Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while..." I love it. So deep. It speaks to me.
I Want You--Okay. The chorus of this song is, "I want you. I want you. I want you. So bad." I love it. Is there any other song that is more straight forward without being crude? I love it.
Temporary Like Achilles--"I'm trying to read your portrait but I'm helpless, like a rich man's child". I've known some rich men's children in my lifetime and it's true. They can be pretty helpless. This line has popped into my head on many occasions dealing with these people. (Love you though!!!)
Leopard Skin Pill-box Hat--"Well I see you got a new boyfriend, you know I've never seen him before, well I saw you makin' love to him, you forgot to close the garage door"... do I need to say more about this song??!!??
Most Likely You'll Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine--Okay, this is probably the most empowering song ever written, maybe after I Will Survive. In the chorus he says, "I'm gonna let you pass". I'm not totally sure what was going on in the story of this song, but it's kind of ambiguous who dumped who. But in my interpretation it's the kind of thing where you are the one who gets dumped or treated wrongly, but you still feel like you're coming out the victor. And although that may not be the case at all, you've told yourself that and you've done a pretty convincing job. It's kind of like reading "He's Just Not That Into You" and feeling awesome and empowered even when you've totally been rejected. This song has helped me through some pretty rough times.
4th Time Around--"I never took much. I never asked for your crutch. Now don't ask for mine." BOOM!!! That's a real eff-you if I ever heard one.
Huh. I just noticed a pattern. Unless my most inspirational line is in the chorus, it tends to be almost at the very end of the song. I wonder what that means. Sweet! I have a topic for my dissertation.
I hope you all enjoy this album as much as I do. Just don't tell me if you've never listened to it. That would be too embarrassing. Go borrow someone's cd and make a cassette tape and act like you've had it forev! Ha. jk. Does anyone else have any thoughts to add?

3 comments:

marshall p said...

I love bob. tangled up in blue is my favorite song. I don't think it's on that album. I used to have the CD p.s. (probably when you were 14, but I sold it to help fund a trip to NYC.) worthy cause? I don't know. I went up in the twin towers a month to the day before they were knocked down...

chilidawg said...

You didn't comment on one of my favorite songs from the album: Just Like a Woman. Here is my favorite verse:

I just can't fit
Yes, I believe it's time for us to quit
When we meet again
Introduced as friends
Please don't let on that you knew me when
I was hungry and it was your world.

I also love Visions of Johanna too. One of my favorite lines is:

The ghost of 'lectricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place

I love this album too; I'm glad I had a part in your musical education.

David said...

Another fave off this album - one that doesn't appeal first off but grows - is "pledging my time". The sound is denser and more compressed than most of the tracks on the album (what the heck do I mean by that, anyway?). Bob's singing as always makes this a special kind of love song.