October 12, 2013

"Now the moon is almost hidden/The stars are beginning to hide/The fortune-telling lady/Has even taken all her things inside."

Just an old Bob Dylan lyric that crossed my mind writing the previous post.

And here's the Jefferson Airplane song that I linked to in the second paragraph of the first post today, on the words: "You're only pretty as you feel." That link goes to a nice "extended outtake" of "Pretty As You Feel," which should remind old Baby Boomers of the pleasant languors of psychedelic rock concerts circa 1970.

By the way, it always bothered me when an artist that I liked to think of as hip and cool built a song around some old adage or platitude, especially when the saying was sung over and over and with apparent sincerity. Think of some other examples. Here's the one that hardened my hatred for this half-assed lyric-writing: "It's nature's way of telling you something's wrong."

Did Bob Dylan ever do that? I can't think of any examples, and I ask Meade — whose head is a bigger storehouse of Dylan lyrics than mine — and he can't either.


Anonymous said...

While it Isn't Repeated, These Lyrics Popped to Mind:

"Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile
Why wait any longer for the world to begin
You can have your cake and eat it too
Why wait any longer for the one you love
When he's standing in front of you."

It Took Some Big Brass Balls to Sing Those Cliches Sincerely.

Naked Bob Dylan Robot Might Have a Differing Point of View.

David said...

"Everybody must get stoned."

traditionalguy said...

Authenticity is a good thing. Mixing old and new cliches works. Dylan's "With God On Our Side" used that old phrase every verse, but it was to make fun of the idea.

cassandra lite said...

"And the one with the mustache says, 'Geez, I can't find my knees.'"

Anonymous said...

Because So Many People Asked (my Psychic Told Me So)...

Naked Bob Dylan Robot Says:

By Employing Vocal Mannerisms Reminiscent of Engelbert Humperdinck or Robert Goulet the Singer in "Lay, Lady, Lay" Acknowledges the Insincerity Inherent in Cliche and -- By Still Choosing to Employ the Cliches -- Uses This Context to Reach an Approximation of Sincerity Wherein the Truth in Cliches is Understood to Approximate the Inarticulate.

Within this Conceptual Framework the Following Lyric Amplifies This Understanding:

"His clothes are dirty but his hands are clean."

While the Lyrical 'Clothes' of the Song may Indeed Be 'Dirty' With Cliche, it is His 'hands' -- i.e. His Voice -- That is 'Clean' of Insincerity. It is In This Way That the Singer May have His Cake and Eat it, Too.

Anonymous said...

Naked Bob Dylan Robot Says:

This is Firmly Within the Parameters of "Silly Love Songs" Theory.

rhhardin said...

If I liken humanity to a woman, I shall not expatiate upon her youth's being on the wane and the approach of her middle-age. Her mind changes for the better. Her ideal of poetry will change. Tragedies, poems, elegies will no longer take precedence. The coolness of the maxim shall prevail!

- Lautreamont

Wayworn Wanderer said...

Hey! Wait a minute! I LIKE Spirit.

Anonymous said...

"Silly Love Songs" Theory: Probably Best Left For Another Time.

rhhardin said...

There's Adorno's "The Jargon of Authenticity," from the 50s.

Amexpat said...

"Everybody must get stoned.

No, Dylan is not encouraging getting high. It's more like a biblical stoning, knocking people down, putting them in their place. An irony here is that one way of doing that is coercing people, through peer pressure, to get high.

rhhardin said...

Mark, mark mark how the lark and linnet sing, sing mark, mark, mark how the lark and linnet sing sing mark mark mark mark mark how the lark and linnet sing sing mark mark mark mark how the lark and linnet sing sing mark mark mark how the lark and linnet sing with rival notes they strain their warbling throats they strain their warbling throats with rival notes with rival notes they strain their warbling warbling throats to welcome to welcome to welcome to welcome to welcome to welcome to welcome to welcome in the spring ...

John Blow, Ode on the Death Mr. Henry Purcell

EDH said...

And Althouse keeps musing... Just Like a Woman.

Amexpat said...

@betamax: I agree about Dylan's singing of "Lay Lady Lay" (I like Naked Bob Dylan Robot take as well). No mean feat to sing that and not sound sappy or insincere.

Dylan is a master of playing with cliches, often giving them a different meaning or multiple meanings ("I Can't Wait", "God Knows", "Sweetheart Like You").

One Dylan song where he fails is "Three Angels". I cringe when he sings:
But does anyone hear the music they play
Does anyone even try?

Ann Althouse said...

"By the dirt beneath my nails... he knew I wouldn't lie."

khematite@aol.com said...

"But what's the sense of changing horses in midstream?"

FullMoon said...

I used to understand all Dylan was saying, but I was so much older then;I'm younger than that now.

St. George said...

The Airplane?

Ah, yes, the early 70s brought us the excruciating Papa John Creach.

He was the avocado-colored refrigerator of the late hippie rock era.

phx said...

One of the greatest things about Dylan is his ability to infuse a cliche with power. Someone already mentioned "changing horses in midstream" and staying on that theme I really love the line "someone is beating on a dead horse" from Man in the LBC. He does it constantly though and always has.

Not an adage or platitude but the post reminded me of all the cliches in Dylan.

Worn said...

Papa John Creach.. You may not think to look at him but he was famous long ago.

dustbunny said...

I always disliked the line in Sara about "writing Sad-eyed Lady of the lowlands for you", it seemed much too obvious for a Dylan lyric.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I'm as pale as a ghost
Holding a blossom on a stem.
You ever seen a ghost?
No, but you have heard of them.

-- "Spirit on the Water"

A song I otherwise love.

That last line is the most appallingly lame thing he ever wrote, in my opinion. It's not even funny, as some of his lame lines are.