June 13, 2004

"Primitive wallflower freeze."

Writing that last post I read the lyrics to "Visions of Johanna" and found myself wondering whether the phrase "primitive wallflower freeze" shouldn't be "primitive wallflower frieze." After all, the verse in which the phrase appears begins "Inside the museums"--you know the museums where "infinity goes up on trial"?--and Mona Lisa also appears in this verse, so it makes sense to think of the wallflowers as depicted in a work of art, a frieze. A frieze is part of a wall, so it's a particularly apt place for "wallflowers," and "primitive" is an adjective often applied to a work of art, and somewhat nonsensical referring to a flower (though slightly off adjectives are typical of Dylan, and this verse also has "jelly-faced women").

So, despite the bluebooks lying on the desk next to my keyboard and the grade deadline looming tomorrow, I decided to Google to find an answer. Using "freeze," one of the first things I found was this (scroll through), which I found incredibly touching and wish I could understand.

Anyway, the Google score is "freeze" 214, "frieze" 2, so I'm outvoted, but I still think I'm right. And I just want to add the the rhyme set "freeze ... sneeze ... Jeeze ... knees" is quite amusing, if childish.


Mark said...

I never thought about that: the possible pun of "freize" as spelled "freeze."
I googled the lyrics, "See the primitive wallflower freeze/
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze," thinking it was an image or description of a painting hanging in a museum. The Mona Lisa is in the Louvre, right? I was hoping to find the actual image of the "jelly-faced women" painting online if my hunch were correct. You've given me something else to consider, though.
Thanks for the helpful interpretation.

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dolinna said...

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deckbose said...

I have no doubt you are correct, because I came to that same conclusion myself long ago. "Frieze" makes sense."Freeze" does not. But most people -- the people who might be transcribing lyrics -- don't know what a 'frieze' is.

I say, BANK ON IT!

Ficta said...

The latest hardback edition of Dylan's lyrics has "freeze" (I just looked, reminds me I've got to get that book out more often), but that doesn't mean it isn't an intentional pin.