"Black Crow Blues" by Bob Dylan
How about some Dylan blues for a snowy Tuesday?
Black crows in the meadow (16 plays)
Sleeping across a broad highway
Black crows in the meadow
Across a broad highway
Though its funny, honey
I just don’t feel much like a
"Desolation Row" by Bob Dylan
Now Ophelia, she’s ‘neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row.
My students just finished Act 4 of Hamlet, and today we discussed Shakespeare’s thoughts on madness. Up to this point, they had been tracking Hamlet’s supposed madness, but Ophelia’s appearance and death challenged many of their perspectives. It seemed as though her actions made Hamlet’s supposed madness seem rather tame and staged by comparison, but then they started wondering whether madness manifested itself in outrageous behavior like Ophelia’s. Since the overarching question was about Shakespeare’s thoughts on madness, they concluded that it needed to be outrageous on stage, but not necessarily in real life. I thought this was a fairly sophisticated conclusion to come to.
They’re still struggling with Hamlet’s visions of his father, though. Especially the fact that the guards see the ghost in the beginning, but Hamlet’s mother doesn’t see him later in the play while Hamlet does. Alas, if literature was a pretty little package, it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable as it is when it’s a “loose, baggy monster” (Henry James). (58 plays)
"Foot of Pride" by Lou Reed (Dylan cover)
Live from The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration
While many have lumped Lou Reed in with glam acts like David Bowie, punk acts like Iggy Pop, and experimental improv bands like The Doors, I’ve always felt most comfortable looking at Lou Reed in the same category as Bob Dylan. Granted, each category has its claim on Reed, a tribute to the diversity of this legend, but more than anything else, when I think of him I think of a man, a guitar, and street poetry in the same way that I think of Dylan, just replace the street with the road.
And when it came time for Lou Reed to pay homage to Dylan, of course he would play the longest song of the set and of course it would be a song that had yet to appear on a Dylan album. But not only play it, but make it his. It’s this attitude, this ability to affect everything with his own identity that made Lou Reed a legend that so many genres of music can claim as their idol.
RIP Lou Reed (691 plays)
"Maggie’s Farm" by Bob Dylan
Listening to Dylan while my American Lit class is studying the Transcendentalists, I become more aware of the influence people like Emerson and Thoreau had on our nation’s psyche. Living in a nation not yet one hundred years old, they were already aware of the importance of maintaining one’s individuality and challenging the government when necessary. I wonder whether there would be a Dylan if there hadn’t first been Thoreau’s “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” or Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”. Choosing one’s own path and maintaining one’s individuality is always a challenge when one enters into any kind of social setting or relationship, they made it okay to walk away from a situation that threatened to compromise your ideals instead of surrendering them.
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more (50 plays)
I aint gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them
They say sing while you slave and I just get bored
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
"Romance in Durango" by Bob Dylan
Since I started paying closer attention to this album a few years ago, I’ve come to think of it as his most international album. No wonder, what with all of the references to foreign countries, exotic instruments, and, in this song, some non-English lyrics.
However, with two of my classes currently examining Imperialism, I wonder how this album would stand up to a Post-Imperial criticism. In other words, what would Edward Said and Chinua Achebe think of an album of love and adventure songs set in foreign lands? Would they be upset that Bob Dylan, activist/poet/songwriter chose to ignore the plight of the poor and downtrodden of those areas and chose instead to use their homes merely as backdrops?
Someday, when I have time, maybe I’ll work up something more formal. (30 plays)
"Masters of War" by Bob Dylan
My AP Language and Composition class has been studying the relationship between language and politics as expressed in essays and speeches. Right now, they’re working on the sub-theme of Imperialism, but before we leave the unit as a whole, I want to make sure they get to experience this.
For the record, this class has many of the same students who spent two days tearing apart some of Dylan’s more Surrealist songs, so it’ll be interesting to see what they do with the rhetorical turns Dylan takes in this song.
You’ve thrown the worst fear (100 plays)
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins
"Black Diamond Bay" by Bob Dylan
She sheds a tear and then begins to pray
As the fire burns on and the smoke drifts away
From Black Diamond Bay
I was talking to another teacher the other day about songs inspired by or adapted from literature and he mentioned that this song is supposedly based on or influenced by Joseph Conrad’s Victory. It’s been about 20 years since I read it, but I always enjoyed Conrad so I might need to revisit it. As soon as this school year allows me to at least tread water, that is. (40 plays)
"Shooting Star" by Bob Dylan
Seen a shooting star tonight slip away
Tomorrow will be another day
Guess it’s too late to say the things to you that you needed to hear me say
Seen a shooting star tonight slip away
Every year when school starts, I have this revelation a few weeks in that last year’s seniors are gone. This is the point when I start to miss them - not at graduation, but the following year. I guess that’s when it hits me that there will be a number of them that I’ll never see again. For some of them, that’s fine with me, but with others, I think of things that I could have said, wisdom I could have imparted, or just another word of assurance that they’ll come through the challenges they are about to face.
In a way, as a teacher, I guess I encounter a lot of shooting stars. (139 plays)
"Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan
Thanks to imonlysleeping for reminding me that Bob Dylan released this 48 years ago today. What did you do today? (733 plays)