September 7, 2016

"Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow. They can be closed, but at the same time..."

"... they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways, there is no difference."

Said Bob Dylan, making a 26-foot-by-15-foot gate for the MGM National Harbor hotel and casino.

I believe gates come up 5 times in Bob Dylan lyrics. I like them all, but I'll rank them because I know you like rankings, they let the opinions enter and flow and in the end, there's really no difference:

5. "My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums/Should I leave them by your gate/Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?"

4. "There are thousands in the phone booth/Thousands at the gate/Ev’rybody wants to make a long-distance call/But you know they’re just gonna have to wait."

3. "Relationships of ownership/They whisper in the wings/To those condemned to act accordingly/And wait for succeeding kings/And I try to harmonize with songs/The lonesome sparrow sings/There are no kings inside the Gates of Eden."

2. "Well, your clock is gonna stop/At Saint Peter’s gate/Ya gonna ask him what time it is/He’s gonna say, 'It’s too late'/Hey, hey!/I’d sure hate to be you/On that dreadful day."

1. "While preachers preach of evil fates/Teachers teach that knowledge waits/Can lead to hundred-dollar plates/Goodness hides behind its gates/But even the president of the United States/Sometimes must have to stand naked."

IN THE COMMENTS: Mel brings up "Absolutely Sweet Marie," which the search function chez Dylan failed to dig up. The song begins:
Well, your railroad gate, you know I just can’t jump it
Sometimes it gets so hard, you see
I’m just sitting here beating on my trumpet
With all these promises you left for me
But where are you tonight, sweet Marie?
Where would I have put that in the rankings? I think #6, because what kind of railroad gate does Marie have anyway? A chastity belt? I assume "beating on my trumpet" is Bob Dylan masturbating. How could you not? That's easy, easier than Arabian drums in song #5, and I once got into a long discussion of the phrase "My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums," much of which was premised on the way, in the recording, it sounds like "My warehouse ass." Carry on!

48 comments:

WisRich said...

Hmmm....Fences..er..I mean..gates. Even liberals like 'em.

Yancey Ward said...

I would argue the most famous song about a gate in the Dylan canon doesn't even mention a gate directly.

Jim said...

Well, we've seen sculptures of the two candidates naked. Some things you can't unsee.

Mel said...

Well, your railroad gate, you know I just can’t jump it
Sometimes it gets so hard, you see
I’m just sitting here beating on my trumpet
With all these promises you left for me
But where are you tonight, sweet Marie?

First one that came to mind.

Third line...well, it is what it is!

Ann Althouse said...

@Mel Thanks. That didn't come up in the search function on his site.

walter said...

Blogger kicking back my post..twice.
No links..only a reference to public radio. Is that the offender?

Ann Althouse said...

You can put links in comments, walter. I don't know what your problem might be.

walter said...

Well..said radio commenter and producer seemed comfortable comparing/likening US border wall with Berlin's

walter said...

I contacted the lead on that and he refused to concede the difference.
But that's how that particular network rolls.
Calm demeanor prettying up highly suspect notions.

traditionalguy said...

Crossing over the River and going back through the Gates of Eden sounds real good.

But then Bobby D is a Hebrew Prophet.

traditionalguy said...

Walls have gates to control access and open to the good people and shut to the bad people.

Nehemiah got his own Book praising him in God's own Holy Scripture for having the courage to lead in building a wall against the will of local political forces. All Trump will get is a silly statue of his face on a mountain in South Dakota.

walter said...

He was Christian for a while. "Gotta serrrrve sumbuddy..."

walter said...

(But I doubt he has Scottish blood..)

Fred Rawlings said...

Clouds so swift
Rain won't lift
Gate won't close
The railin's froze
Get your mind offa Wintertime
You aint goin no where.

Ghengis Khan
He couldn't keep
All his kings
supplied with sleep....

Fred Rawlings said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwetPaL9ND0

jimbino said...

Dylan sets a bad example for the kids by not using eye protection.

Jeff Gee said...

I assume "beating on my trumpet" is Bob Dylan masturbating. How could you not?

Bobby Flanagan and I found a bugle in the woods near the dump when we were about 11. It was a little dented but still looked playable. We blew into it, and nothing happened. We didn’t know anything about embouchure. So we went to the dump and beat it flat with a brick. It was very satisfying. Maybe Dylan had a similar experience, although I guess the preceding ‘Sometimes it gets so hard, you see’ line argues in favor of your interpretation.

mikee said...

Another Dylan use of the word "gate" in lyrics for you, Althouse: 1991 Disney "For Our Children" Pediatric AIDS Benefit album, second track, Bob Dylan sang "This Old Man Goes Rolling Home" which includes the timeless lyrics:

This old man, he plays eight
He plays knick knack on my gate
With a knick knack paddy whack
Give a dog a bone
This old man goes rolling home.

How long has Dylan been anti-Irish, the "paddy whacking" bastidge?

Earnest Prole said...

Absolutely Sweet Marie is about a chick who won't put out. Adolescent, yes, but it also contains one of his greatest lyrics, "to live above the law you must be honest."

Meade said...

She dropped a coin into the cup of a blind man at the gate
And forgot about a simple twist of fate.

Earnest Prole said...

The search engine at Bob's site is clearly not up to the challenge, as the comments show. If it were Google-quality it would serve up results like heaven's door as well.

Earnest Prole said...

and please don't conflate Bob Dylan with the characters and narrators in his songs

Rusty said...

jimbino said...
Dylan sets a bad example for the kids by not using eye protection.

Absolutely. It's all macho fun until you have to go tp the eye clinic to get a chip removed from your eye.

Ann Althouse said...

Dylan is still Christian as far as I know.

mikesixes said...


Clouds so swift
Rain won't lift
Gate won't close
Railings froze

-You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

That's my fave Dylan song with "gate" in it.

chickelit said...

Yancey Ward said...I would argue the most famous song about a gate in the Dylan canon doesn't even mention a gate directly.

Agreed. The difference between "Heaven's Door" and "Heaven's Gate" is semantics. Interestingly, the same sort of nuance can be found in Kafka. His Vor dem Gesetz ("Before the Law" or "The Parable of The Doorkeeper") features either a doorkeeper or a gatekeeper and the confusion is compounded by the German words Tür vs. Tor. link

madAsHell said...

Negative space!?!? I can't even begin to understand what that means, but I'm pretty sure time would run backwards.

Meade said...

...and so does the bride.

Meade said...

Ring Them (Gate) Bells

CBCD said...

There is also the song The Gates of Eden.

jerpod said...

I always thought that it was "bleating" on my trumpet". Not "beating". I don't know, but are there any other Dylan lyrics that equate to fapping? I don't think so.

AprilApple said...

Matt Lauer just proved that feeding Clinton the questions to her ahead of time works not only for the Benghazi hearings - but for these bogus interviews.

SukieTawdry said...

Open up that golden gate, California, here I come.

Some velvet morning when I'm straight, I'm gonna open up your gate.

I stand at your gate and the song that I sing is of moonlight.

Seven eight you're at my gate and you walk into my arms.

jdniner said...

Warehouse eyes to me mean dilated eyes from drug usage. Then compared to some middle eastern beauty he knew once.

MayBee said...

When I lived in London,my son and I went to a Gallery showing of gates he had made. They were intricate and fascinating. I'm not a huge Dylan fan, but the obvious love of the gates he made made me love the gates. I brought my other son and husband back to see them when my youngest was in town, we appreciated it so much.

Yancey Ward said...

Chicklit,

Yes, that is the song I was thinking of.

Paul Zrimsek said...

"Gates also appeal to me because I can pronounce them gaEEEEEte."

LordSomber said...

Stuck inside a mobile home with a Memphis high school band.

SukieTawdry said...

Gates are among my favorite photo subjects. I did not know till now that Bob Dylan made them.

BN said...

Pansy Poet: "[Gates] can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways there is no difference."

Tough guy from Queens running for Prez: "I'll build YUGE walls! With YUGE gates!"

In some ways there is no difference.

Dan Truitt said...

It's extremely difficult to fabricate something like an iron gate by hand with an acetylene torch and a welder. Dylan is clearly a multi-talented genius kind of guy.

Terry Vance said...

Glad we didn't have to parse the meaning of "no man comes"

Rusty said...

Blogger Dan Truitt said...
It's extremely difficult to fabricate something like an iron gate by hand with an acetylene torch and a welder. Dylan is clearly a multi-talented genius kind of guy.

I'll take that as sarcasm.

Jon Burack said...

When if comes to furniture, I also like "Temporary Like Achilles." No gates but there is a window, a second door, a velvet door, a hallway, a ceiling, a circus floor (with a scorpion on it). All just to ask the very difficult question "is your heart made out of stone, or is it lime, or is it just solid rock?"

Amexpat said...

Yesterday, when this was posted, I listened to a very charming bootleg version of "Gates of Eden" that Dylan sang with George Harrison in the band around 69/70.
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egppxVFKMs8

Peter said...

"Well, your railroad gate, you know I just can’t jump it ..."

Somehow I always assumed the lyric was railroad gauge?

Sarah Rolph said...

When I first saw the gates he is making I thought of this lyric from Never Say Goodbye:

My dreams are made of iron and steel
With a big bouquet of roses hanging down
From the heavens to the ground

GWash said...

a little late and i hate all the dylan interpreting (useless all useless) but did anyone mention the line from one of my faves 'simple twist of fate'

'She dropped a coin into the cup
Of a blind man at the gate'