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Seventies-Dylan Cut-and-Paste Plagiarized from Jacques Levy’s Secret Desire Notebook

Realize the Increasing Danger of Unauthorized Tomb Plundering on the ‘Muddiest Superhighway in the Universe’
What does the Dylan Internet world, ‘the muddiest superhighway in the universe’, care about pre-“Love And Theft” (2001) cut-and-paste Dylan? Blown if I know. Indeed what do I, should I, care? Free handouts to the Warmuthian cut-and-paste generation? A thankless task – and unremunerative to boot..

5 Feb

Jeremy Duns @jeremyduns

@scottwarmuth1 I note on your blog an anonymous commenter says he has been doing this since the 70s. That's deeply shocking if true.

5 Feb

Scott Warmuth @scottwarmuth1

@jeremyduns The "anonymous commenter" talks a good game but has yet to pony up with the goods. 3:58 PM - 5 Feb 12 via web ·

For a spy writer Duns shocks very easily – and displays some logic which is hard to reconcile with the requirements for putting together complex thriller plots. ‘Isis’ by Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy on their Desire collaboration (released 1976) – call it Seventies-Dylan cut-and-paste:
I married Isis on the fifth day of May But I could not hold on to her very long So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong I came to a high place of darkness and light The dividing line ran through the center of town I hitched up my pony to a post on the right Went in to a laundry to wash my clothes down

Is Dylanology in need of a new pony? ‘New Pony’ (Street Legal, 1978):
Once I had a pony, her name was Lucifer I had a pony, her name was Lucifer She broke her leg and she needed shooting I swear it hurt me more than it could ever have hurted her

Michael Gray in Song & Dance Man III (2000) p 566:
An artist as immoderately compelling as Bob Dylan is to those he gets his hook into inevitably attracts oceans of this specious amateurish commentary, as you will know if you have ever wandered through the websites and newsgroups devoted to him – the muddiest superhighway in the universe – or the deliberately unedited pages of the ‘Dignity’ magazine.

‘Shelter From The Storm’ (Blood on the Tracks, 1974):
’Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form “Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

‘Let’s try to get beneath the surface waste’: of tashlich breadcrumbs at Passover? Or of ‘mudcake creatures’? ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing’ indeed – and a text without a context (Ecclesiastes 11:1) is a pretext. James Orchard Halliwell in The Nursery Rhymes of England p 187, a pretwentieth-century collection (and, it turns out, a book referenced by Gray in a footnote) p 229, no. 598:
There was a little nobby colt, His name was Nobby Gray; His head was made of pouce straw; His tail was made of hay; He could ramble, he could trot, He could carry a mustard-pot, Round the town of Woodstock, Hey, Jenny, hay!

Rosh ‘Hoshanah’ to the King of Bobcats at Passover (Gray p 663)? Matthew 21 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King 21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a] 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very

large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c] “Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

A woman just gave birth to a king among nations today? ‘Jokerman’ and bread-casting on Rosh Hashanah? Nothing but a deviant excursion from Desire’s ‘Oh, Sister’, Jacques Levy’s collaboration and his lost secret notebook. ‘Jokerman’ (1983):
You’re a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds Manipulator of crowds, you’re a dream twister You’re going to Sodom and Gomorrah But what do you care? Ain’t nobody there would want to marry your sister

The’ nightingale tune’, the ‘nightingale’s code’ and Dylan’s sister code: ‘Oh Sister’, ‘Precious Angel’’s ‘Sister lemme tell ya’ lyric, and ‘Jokerman’’s ‘marry your sister’ lyric. In 2006 Derek Barker of in response to a submission idea or two for publication in which he was interested, charged me with ‘leaping around all the time’. Pretty ironic from a guy running an outfit with the name ‘Isis’, hilariously fossilized in that passé Seventies quasi- or pseudo-Egyptian Rolling Thunder trip thing like Desire had only come out yesterday. Since when was writing about Bob Dylan in a linear academic manner mandatory – or even desirable or achievable? Compare John Gibbens in The Nightingale’s Code: A poetic study of Bob Dylan (2001) p 45 on ‘the leaping allusiveness of JOKERMAN’, itself an unconscious leaping allusion to Jonathan Cott in Dylan (1985) p 216:
One might have seen a sign of his incipient rebellion in the extraordinary, visionary, still-unreleased song Caribbean Wind'' (with its images of “the furnace of desire'' and “ships of liberty”), which Dylan had sung only at certain of his concerts between 1980 and 198l--a song that broke with the generally rigid versifying and moralizing of his born-again compositions and returned to the leaping verbal associations and passionate allusiveness of earlier songwriting periods. But it was the release of his album Infidels in late 1983 that revealed . . .

From Henry Miller’s surreal ‘My Dream of Mobile’: a chapter in The AirConditioned Nightmare (1945):

Events transpire in all declensions at once; they are never conjugated. What is not Gog is Magog––and at nine punkt Gabriel always blows his horn. But is it music? Who cares?

A J Weberman, from his older website (replaced by .org), circa 2000, now defunct; Google this in vain. (I hear conflicting rumours of his having been in jail back then; and the race is not to the swift – you won’t find this on his current sites):
THE DYLANOLOGICAL METHOD Dylanology rests on the discovery by this cryptographer that Dylan's songs are written in a secret language. Certain words are associated with certain other words, as in a cipher, or secret code. Example: Although the word "rain" is not associated with the word "war," in most people's minds, Dylan uses the word "rain" when referring to "war." "Rain" becomes a cryptonym for "war." The best example of this is Hard Rain, where Dylan predicts that nuclear war is coming. Other examples include "They rolled his body down the gulf amidst a bloody red rain" from Emmett Till and "as though the rains of wartime" from liner Notes to Times They Are A-Changing. Does "rain" always mean "war?" in the "nightingale's code"? In many of Dylan's less ambiguous works his encryption is minimal, however, in certain works which make no sense on their literal level, logic dictates that the encryption has to be there. When Dylan wrote "she points to the slow train and prays for rain and time to interfer" he is either writing symbolist poetry or this line is just stream of consciousness poetry or nonsense poetry like Ogden Nash.

Does ‘sister’ always mean Kirkbymoorside in the nightingale’s code, A J? No: only three times: ‘Oh, Sister’, ‘Precious Angel’, ‘Jokerman’. Robert Graves in The White Goddess p 339:
The proleptic or analeptic method of thought, though necessary to poets, physicians, historians and the rest, is so easily confused with mere guessing, or deduction from insufficient data, that few of them own to using it. However securely I buttress the argument of this book with quotations, citations and footnotes, the admission that I have made here of how it first came to me will debar it from consideration by orthodox scholars: though they cannot refute it, they dare not accept it.

The Dylan world over a barrel. Weberman continued:
POETRY AND CODES I am a Database Compiler and an Information Analyist by profession. I am the president of Independent Research Associates located in New York City. I crack codes. Dylan's codes rhyme and are put to music, great music. As far as impenetrability, Dylan's code is on a level worthy of a study by the National Security Administration. As far as literature goes, he may be on the level of James Joyce or William Blake. He is a classic symbolist poet.

‘Oh Sister’; ‘Sister lemme tell ya’; ‘marry your sister’?

In a most Dylanesque twist, in ‘Precious Angel’ Dylan turned from his precious angel’ the black Mary Alice Artes’ to address Zen Sara Dylan his ex-wife – the white not-so-Jewish gypsy of the Lowlands. ‘Precious Angel’:
Sister, lemme tell you about a vision I saw You were drawing water for your husband, you were suffering under the law You were telling him about Buddha, you were telling him about Mohammed in the same breath You never mentioned one time the Man who came and died a criminal’s death

O Sara Dylan, where do you pitch your tent? Draw your water? P B Shelley in ‘The Revolt of Islam’ Canto Ten:
XXXI And Oromaze, Joshua, and Mahomet, Moses and Buddh, Zerdusht, and Brahm, and Foh, A tumult of strange names, which never met Before, as watchwords of a single woe, Arose ; each raging votary 'gan to throw Aloft his armèd hands, and each did howl 'Our God alone is God!’--and slaughter now Would have gone forth, when from beneath a cowl A voice came forth, which pierced like ice through every soul.

Michiko Kakutani, reviewing Dylan’s Lyrics (1985):
- and the ones from Mr. Dylan's subsequent born-again Christian phase seem strangely rhetorical and impersonal, like pastiches of another person's sermons gussied up with a few stray metaphors and images.

Children’s-writer Nigel Hinton inhabited (Whitmanesque) multitudes (above the surface waste). Hinton in ‘Into the Future, Knocked Out and Loaded’ in the highbrow former Dylan fanzine The Telegraph in the late1980s:
So, since 1979, I have found Dylan’s work to be largely lacking in that quality that put him in another class from everyone else. Even when his songs in this period had been clever (and many of them have been clever and beautiful) they have always been explicit. The meaning is all there on the surface and there has not been that elusive, ambiguous quality with which he used to manage to invest even simple words so that they would suddenly open up to a new meaning. Even rich and complex songs such as ‘Jokerman’ are rich and complex only on the surface – they do not have resonances that suddenly bloom to reveal something previously unthought of by the listener. There has been no mystery in his art and, simultaneously, he has been less musically and vocally inventive.

But with the truth shofar off, what good will it do? The Dylan literati over a barrel. Let’s try to get beneath the surface waste, Nige. The evangelistically fervent Scott Marshall in Restless Pilgrim: the Spiritual Journey of Bob Dylan (2002) p 102:

Midway through the year [1990], Dylan’s faith in God was evident in a letter he sent to Jamie Brown, the editor and founder of Sister 2 Sister, a magazine for emerging black female executives in the music industry.

Ken Brooks shines, in a twisting-around most blinding kind of way, his, light not water, in the syntactically challenging Bob Dylan: the Man in Him (1999):
The truth is in our heart, Bob’s vision. Sister Mary Alice Artes, Bob’s advisor, was explaining Buddha and Mohammed but not Jesus. To understand and be sure then the seeker must learn of other religions.

The NME is subtle? Perhaps Ken, whoever he was working for, albeit not a music magazine (as far as I know), is a spiritual advisor to the Vineyard these days? How be it Brooks is deceived (spiritually, and Michael Gray is deceived grammatically and spiritually – as per 2 Kings 17)? John 4 New International Version (NIV) Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
1 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. 4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a]) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Dylan to Mary Alice Artes (post-structurally of course):
Precious angel, under the sun, How was I to know you'd be the one To show me I was blinded, to show me I was gone How weak was the foundation I was standing upon?

How weak was the foundation of Zen that Dylan was standing upon. Biographer Anthony Scaduto:
"Bob needed Sarah very desperately," a close friend from that period says. "His head was all screwed around from the pressures, the fame, that whole insane thing that was happening to him, and Sarah represented some solid ground. She was mystical, into Zen and all, and seemed to have found her own head and maybe seemed to have some answers from Zen, and Dylan needed that, Also, she was sort of Zen-egoless, She didn't try to get into Bob's head the way people always do, because that's not where it was at for her. And Bob needed that kind of unthreatening woman. She seemed to be able to give herself over to him and his special needs. Besides which, she is very beautiful and very tender ."

From one of Dylan’s gospel raps: Montreal 22 April 1980, I think:
Thank you. I'm leaning on that solid rock, and you need that solid rock. There's a form of medium called Zen. They got a way of twisting things all around, make what's good seem bad and what's bad seem good. I was talking to a girl the other day who just lives from orgasm to orgasm. I know that's a strange thing, but that's what she's said to do because of these so-called modern times. But she's not satisfied.

‘Idiot Wind’ (Blood on the Tracks, 1975):
Now everything's a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped, What's good is bad, what's bad is good, you'll find out when you reach the top You're on the bottom.

From Al Aronowitz’s My Dylan Papers, from subsequently excised material that his family now don’t want you to see:
From the start, Sara parried Bob's tyranny with graciousness. Bob ran hot and cold and he was a succession of either Jekylls and Hydes or heckles and jives, but I've never seen him treat another human as civilly, as respectfully, as lovingly and as humanly as he treated Sara. In the years following his motorcycle accident, Bob acted like a romantic cornball when he was with her. More and more, he depended on her advice as if she were his astrologer, his oracle, his seer, his psychic guide. He would rely on her to tell him the best hour and the best day to travel. For me, they were the ideal loving couple. They flirted with each other constantly. Their kitchen-talk, table-talk, parlor-talk and general dialogue impressed me as certainly hipper than any I've ever heard in any soap opera or sitcom. To me, this dialogue was by the Shakespeare of his time and his wife. She was always just as hip as he was. Bob and Sara put on an impressive show for me, a drama full of romance and wisecracks and everyday common sense. I felt proud to be the audience. Proud and privileged, too, because I knew what any member of the army of Bob's fans would have been willing to pay for a ticket to this show. Bob's fans were sitting on the edges of their seats waiting for the curtain to go up. The curtain of mist which Bob had drawn between himself and the world. What was going on behind it?

But even better still, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, Jakob Dylan: RS762: Jakob Dylan Jakob Dylan-RS 762 (June 12, 1997)
It made great art, but there were five children caught in the emotional flood -- one daughter and three sons the Dylans had together, and a daughter from Sara's earlier marriage. Mercifully, the court records were sealed, but for Jakob, there are other documents that echo those times. "If I hear [an upbeat song like] 'Tombstone Blues,' I'm having a good time with everybody else," Jakob says. "Those other songs on Nashville Skyline and Blood on the Tracks . . . those are my parents talking." Nashville Skyline was cut in 1969, when his parents were making bread and babies - Jakob, to be precise -- in Woodstock, N.Y. Jakob says he hears his parents in its love songs and in Blood's accusations and laments. He is certain that although strangers danced and made love to them, those songs comprise a fathoms-deep repository of his family history.

‘Couldn’t hear a robin sing’: Robert Graves. Further down:
Come to think of it, Jakob has never asked his dad whether "Forever Young" was indeed inspired by Jakob's birth. He figures it was a rumor some Dylan freak cooked up, since clearly it's a song written to all well-loved children. And he can always listen to it fondly. Not so with, say, "Idiot Wind," from Blood on the Tracks, a song so rueful and vituperative that it's been compared to the poet Allen Ginsberg's epic "Howl." "Idiot Wind" deals with gossip, backstabbing, shattered faith. "In a lot of ways, that's the only snapshot I have, because I don't have a great memory of that time," Jakob says. "A lot of random images might strike my memory hearing it. Those are my parents talking, and if I want to go to that place -- I mean, how often do you want to depress yourself? Sometimes it goes in one ear and out the other. Sometimes, depending on my state, those songs can bother me."

Source: Wilfrid Mellers in A darker shade of pale: A backdrop to Bob Dylan (1984), p 220, says ‘Oh, Sister’:
. . . shedding its evangelical tinge, emerges as a Tex-Mex number acrid in sonority and remorseless in tangoed rhythm, with gibbering and wailing voices off. The effect is sinister, perhaps because the song seems to have become a conflict between Dylan’s Christian Father and his sad-eyed lady earth goddess. Some such tension is latent in many of the gospel songs; indeed the fundamental ambiguity which makes Dylan’s work so rewarding is precisely this matriarchal-patriarchal synthesis or reconciliation.

What reconciliation? Greil Marcus wrote somewhere of Mellers that ‘this is a confused and confusing book’. And as for where, I’m too confused to care. ‘Oh, Sister’ (Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy):
Oh, sister, when I come to lie in your arms You should not treat me like a stranger Our Father would not like the way that you act And you must realize the danger Oh, sister, am I not a brother to you And one deserving of affection? And is our purpose not the same on this earth To love and follow His direction?

With regard to ‘evangelical tinge’, compare John Gibbens -- again in The Nightingale’s Code: A poetic study of Bob Dylan (2001) pp 325-326 on Desire, Saved, ‘Saved’ and being saved:
The single most strongly stressed word on the record was later the title of Dylan’s second Christian album, and it’s striking that it should receive such strong emphasis four years beforehand. In OH SISTER, Emmylou Harris and he draw the word out on a long unaccompanied note:

Gibbens emphasizes the word ‘saved’:
We grew up together From the cradle to the grave We died and were reborn And then mysteriously s-a-v-e-d

Michael Gray p 247 on the evangelistic period:
. . . and that what makes these Born Again albums so flawed and shallow in the context of Bob Dylan’s whole catalogue is that he has been satisfied, on these records, to assert and argue and declaim but he has hardly bothered anywhere on them to fulfil the more important tasks of the artist: he has not created worlds here, he has only argued about them.

Where Dylan did excel in creating such worlds, even more than with his ‘gussied up’ stray metaphor of ‘sister’, was in ‘Born in Time’, the conceptual cornerstone, linchpin, of under the red sky (1990) – ‘an achievement that has gone entirely unrecognized’ by Michael Gray himself, ever the master of dramatic critical irony, who failed to realize that nursery rhyme, apocalyptic or otherwise, is but the vehicle of the album’s real central theme: Atonement. The stone the builders, he and Andrew Muir, rejected has become the capstone. See ‘Born in Time’ Appendix below. So back to the ‘sister’ – and ‘Father’-‘daddy’ tangent. Having dismissed Infidels as Dylan ‘crowing about’ their ‘fate’, Hinton then proceeds to wax lyrical about the love-soaked magnanimity of Knocked Out Loaded:
Put a capital letter on ‘Father’, of course, and there are all kinds of other resonances there. For, above all on this album, Dylan has miraculously rediscovered the ability to make points with discretion and subtlety. He makes his lines ring with mysterious possibilities: where one level works perfectly but where, if you switch contexts, the whole thing works on another level too.

Ain’t gonna get lost in Hinton’s compartmentalizing current.
I ain’t gonna get lost in this current I don’t like playing cat and mouse No gentleman likes making love to a servant Especially when he’s in his father’s house

In Hinton’s father’s house there is many compartmentalizing (among his Whitmanesque multitudes). ‘Sweetheart Like You’ (Infidels, 1983):
You know, news of you has come down the line Even before ya came in the door They say in your father’s house, there’s many mansions Each one of them got a fireproof floor Snap out of it, baby, people are jealous of you They smile to your face, but behind your back they hiss What’s a sweetheart like you doin’ in a dump like this?

Dylan’s allusion in ‘Jokerman’ to the Genesis story involving the violent Sodomites’ rejection of Lot’s offer of his daughters in lieu of the ‘male’ angels they demanded to ‘know’ (biblically) paradoxically does not fit the ‘marry your sister’ lyric. But it doesn’t need to. ‘Realize the danger’ – of incest that isn’t. It’s one of Dylan’s most richly complex lines. Genesis 19 New International Version (NIV)
Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed 19 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s

house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom —both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”



“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.


The Rolling Thunder Revue live at Plymouth, 1975, introducing ‘Oh, Sister’: ‘I wanna dedicate this to Brigham Young’. Opening verse of ‘Oh, Sister’:
Oh, sister, when I come to lie in your arms You should not treat me like a stranger Our Father would not like the way that you act And you must realize the danger

From Jacques Levy’s secret Desire notebook, which he entrusted to my safekeeping – far from the prying eyes, duplicitous methods and intellectually inconsistent criteria of the Dylanologically myopic Karl Erik Andersen:
. . . led like brother and sister through increasing danger they fall into the catacombs of Kirkbymoorside of the Chaldees fingering the buried treasures . . .

Inspiration for Desire’s ‘Isis’ or the very different evangelical ‘Covenant Woman’ (1980)? Ask Jacques Levy, co-writer of Desire? I broke into Levy’s tomb but the casket was empty. In an interview with Derek Barker published in Isis: A Bob Dylan Anthology (2004) by Derek Barker (Editor), Levy downplayed the influence of Joseph Conrad’s Victory on the Desire song ‘Black Diamond Bay’ as being little to nothing beyond the title of the song. Derek correctly spotted a little more but there are things in the album Derek didn’t spot – from Levy’s secret notebook,

hidden ‘until now’ (Howard Sounes). Such is Dylanology, which features no small amount of glib complacency. ‘Isis’, seventh and ninth verses:
We came to the pyramids all embedded in ice He said, “There’s a body I’m tryin’ to find If I carry it out it’ll bring a good price” ’Twas then that I knew what he had on his mind . . . I broke into the tomb, but the casket was empty There was no jewels, no nothin’, I felt I’d been had When I saw that my partner was just bein’ friendly When I took up his offer I must-a been mad

‘Covenant Woman’:
Covenant woman, intimate little girl Who knows those most secret things of me that are hidden from the world. You know we are strangers in a land we're passing through. I'll always be right by your side, I've got a covenant too.

Genesis 12 New International Version (NIV)
The Call of Abram


The LORD had said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
4 3

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, To your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he went on towards the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 9 Then Abram set out and continued towards the Negev. Abram in Egypt

Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.


Genesis 20 New International Version (NIV)
Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, "She is my sister." Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

Genesis 26 New International Version (NIV)
6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar. 7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," because he was afraid to say, "She is my wife."

New Bible Dictionary:
Supposed parallels with the Hurrian wife-sister marriage are to be rejected . . . While this might be an example of the way the Scriptures portray the fortunes of even the greatest heroes, it may well be questioned whether this incident is as yet fully understood.

Max Dimont in The Indestructible Jews:
Sabbetai then headed for Egypt where, in fulfilment of the prophecy that the messiah would marry an unchaste woman, he took as his fourth wife a whore named Sarah. Sarah’s life imitates fiction.

Indeed it does. Dimont on Shabbetai in Jews, God & History p 276:
Sabbatai’s evangelistic itinerary took him to Egypt, and here the century’s most talked-about marriage took place. He was betrothed to Sarah, an international, peripatetic prostitute. Sarah is so implausible she could not have been invented. At the age of six she had been taken to a convent after her Jewish parents had been killed in a Polish pogrom. Early in her teens she had made her escape, deciding to see Europe before settling down. Her quick wit, bucolic beauty, and ready body preserved her life as she trekked from Poland to Amsterdam. Here she had a double hallucination, one voice informing her about Sabbatai Zevi and another voice telling her to become his bride. This team of saint and whore is not a unique one in Scripture. Hosea was married to the prostitute Gomer, and legend proclaimed that the messiah would marry an unchaste bride. After his marriage, Sabbatai went to Palestine, where the masses hysterically adored him as the messiah.

A deviant excursion into the Jokerman’s sister to identify the Jokerman? Seems a little far-fetched. Scratch the world, and ‘the muddiest superhighway in the universe’, for Jesus’s sister – in vain:

The other (unreleased) version of ‘Jokerman’:
You’re going to Sodom and Gomorrah But what do you care? Ain’t nobody there would want to marry your sister Scratching the world with a fine-tooth comb You’ re a king among nations, a stranger at home

Gray’s ‘modus operandi’ with the Jokerman’s sister (p 495) :
I can find no scriptural rationale for Dylan’s envigoratingly deviant surprise ending to these lines. It’s a twister (on the positive side).

Who asked him even to look (or start scratching the ‘muddiest superhighway in the universe’ with a fine-tooth comb for the ‘fiery furnace’)? Realize the danger of those who, already having ransacked Bert Cartwright like a Pharoah’s sarcophagus, would break into tombs and finger buried treasure with their grubby (breadcrumb-stained) fingers – whether they be illicitly plundered oxymoronic tashlich breadcumbs at Passover (incorrectly linked to Ecclesiastes 11:1) or otherwise. ‘A reading comprehension problem’, Larry Yudelson? The Jokerman’s sister certainly has a rationale, and very clever at that, but in this piece it is not revealed. Indeed, why should it be? To Bob Dylan’s Theme-Time Disk Jockey: In death collect the pleasure That I collect in life. I too am friends with danger And to salute the brave I'll stand up, though a stranger , The cypress on your grave. From Anthony Scaduto’s Dylan biography pp 82-83:
Van Ronk: “Being a hayseed, that was part of his image or what he considered his image at the time. Like, once I asked him, ‘Do you know the French symbolists?’ And he said, ‘Huh?’—the stupidest ‘Huh’ you can imagine—and later, when he had a place of his own, I went up there and on the bookshelf was a volume of French poets from Nerval almost to the present. I think it ended at Apollinaire, and it included Rimbaud, and it was all well-thumbed with passages underlined and notes in the margins. The man wanted to be a primitive, a natural kind of genius. He never talked about somebody like Rimbaud. But he knew Rimbaud, all right. You see that in his later songs.” This edition published in 1996 by Helter Skelter Publishing Helter Skelter Limited, 4 Denmark Street, London. Copyright Anthony Scaduto, 1971

Sometimes reading Dylan experts can make you feel like you’ve been had. Scott Warmuth at

In his book Bob Dylan in America Sean Wilentz writes, "Discovering a few phrases lifted from Mark Twain and Jack London in a book so engaging, fluid, and generous as Chronicles would not have been sufficient grounds for daring to knock a national treasure." Wilentz has not examined the material closely enough, and his staunch and spirited defense is off-target and based out of ignorance. It is one of the elements that will make his book date poorly. Chronicles: Volume One is a national treasure because it appears to be fluid and generous, but is actually written in code from cover to cover. It is a treasure map.

I broke into the tomb, but the casket was empty There was no jewels, no nothin’, I felt I’d been had When I saw that my partner was just bein’ friendly When I took up his offer I must-a been mad

5 Feb

Scott Warmuth @scottwarmuth1

@jeremyduns The "anonymous commenter" talks a good game but has yet to pony up with the goods.

Google or voodoo? (Jumbies rush in where the Dylan literati dread to tread on Sax Rohmer.) Hoodoo men (and home-garden feminists like Michael Gray) say that the Jokerman is? ‘New Pony’:
They say you’re usin’ voodoo, your feet walk by themselves They say you’re usin’ voodoo, I seen your feet walk by themselves Oh, baby, that god you been prayin’ to Is gonna give ya back what you’re wishin’ on someone else
If you can read the signs you'll find that Dylan will often point you in a general direction, but you'll have to do the rest of the leg work yourself. If you want sugar for sugar you need to bring more than weak tea to the table.

‘Oh, Sister’:
Oh, sister, am I not a brother to you And one deserving of affection? And is our purpose not the same on this earth To love and follow His direction?

‘Covenant Woman’ (the live lyrics):
Covenant woman, intimate little girl Who knows sees all the invisible things that are hidden from the world. You know we are strangers in a land we're passing through. I'll always be right by your side, I've got a covenant too.

The muddiest superhighway in the universe? Strangers passing through . . . Hebrews 11:7-9 New International Version (NIV)
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.

Oh Dylan world, where do you pitch your tent? Did ‘Sister’ Sara Dylan pitch her tent in the same place as Abram? What do I care? Genesis 12 New International Version (NIV)

From there he went on towards the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 9 Then Abram set out and continued towards the Negev.

‘Born in Time’ APPENDIX Where Dylan did excel in creating such ‘worlds’ that Gray deplores the absence of in the ‘Born Again’ albums, even more than with his ‘gussied up’ stray metaphor of ‘sister’ in ‘Precious Angel’, was in ‘Born in Time’, the conceptual cornerstone, linchpin, of under the red sky (1990) – ‘an achievement that has gone entirely unrecognized’ by Michael Gray himself, ever the master of dramatic critical irony, who failed to realize that nursery rhyme, apocalyptic or otherwise, is but the vehicle of the album’s real central theme: Atonement – indeed a major oversight for someone who wrote, on pp 636 and 637, that some nursery rhyme contains vestiges of 'poking fun at religious ritual' (Opies). Yet he fails, with characteristic dramatic irony, to identify a single song on the album doing any such thing and categorically rejects the very song that does – and in a way that uses nursery-rhyme riddle highly effectively.
If you can read the signs you'll find that Dylan will often point you in a general direction, but you'll have to do the rest of the leg work yourself. If you want sugar for sugar you need to bring more than weak tea to the table.

’10,000 Men’ (from under the red sky):
Ten thousand men dressed in oxford blue Ten thousand men dressed in oxford blue Drummin’ in the morning, in the evening they’ll be coming for you

Dylan’s nod to the Opies’ Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes and Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book. Oh, Michael: thank you for my Oxford tea (under the red sky).
Ooh, baby, thank you for my tea! Baby, thank you for my tea! It’s so sweet of you to be so nice to me Copyright © 1990 by Special Rider Music

World-leading Dylanologist, expert on the blues and nursery rhyme under the red sky Michael Gray says, in Song & Dance Man III (2000) p 14:
It’s a pity Dylan pads out the album with some substandard rockism (‘Wiggle Wiggle’ and ‘Unbelievable’) and the ill-fitting1, foggy pop of ‘Born in Time’, because the core of the album is an adventure into the poetic possibilities of nursery rhyme that is alert, fresh and imaginative, and an achievement that has gone entirely unrecognized.

On p 672 barking Michael wields his big critical stick to beat Bob at the game of nursery rhyme:
The mere inclusion of ‘Born in Time’ disrupts. It belongs to another album2. “Empire Burlesque”, perhaps. Being charitable, “Knocked Out Loaded”. At any rate it has nothing to do with the use of nursery rhyme or fairy tale, and little to do with anything beyond the marketing notion that there ought to be a Seductive Big Ballad on each Bob Dylan album. It has two wonderful lines – ‘you’re comin’ through to me in black and white’, ‘you’re blowin’ down the shaky street’ – but in the end its opaqueness exasperates and smacks of pretension: not only does the title provoke the question ‘Born in time for what?’ and then fail to answer it, but it leaves you feeling that Bob Dylan doesn’t know what he means either.

(Would that be reeling with this feeling?). Gray misses, amongst other things, that ‘Born in Time’ is an ‘In the Garden’ Revisited (‘no more of this’; cf Luke 22: 51 New International Version (amongst others):
But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him.

But not in Gray’s ‘real feeling’ King James ‘Authorized’ Version (which he never really authorized) and that the ‘spoken or broken’ lyric alludes to Kol Nidre, Yom Kippur Eve. Yup: Gray, for all his nursery-rhyme scholarship, totally missed under the red sky’s prophetic meaning – in outworking of Christ’s prophetic appropriation of Psalm 118. Luke 20:16-18 New International Version (NIV)
16 He will come and kill those tenants(A) and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”

1 2

As ill-fitting as Suzie Pullen’s outfits? Like Jesus does to a religion other than Judaism?

17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’[a]?(B) 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”(C)

M F Unger in Demons in the World Today:
But Judaism, in failing to see Christ as God incarnate and immanent, missed the prophetic meaning of its own Scriptures, thereby forfeiting the Savior and his salvation. This blinding operation of Satan and demons (2 Corinthians 4:4, Romans 11:1-25) produced the tragic spectacle of present-day Jewish confusion and unbelief.

Gray (p 672):
The fairy tale that comes to mind here is ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. Pity that little boy wasn’t in the studio to tell Bob to come off it. Instead we have the betraying3 declamatory tone that is never necessary when a Dylan song is real. ‘Born in Time’ is a slippery ‘I’ll Remember You’.

There are none so blind as those disbelieving adults and nursery-rhyme scholars who won’t see – with or without Bruno Bettelheim’s help. Michael. Gray p 641, quoting, apparently, Bettelheim: ‘But a voice used to repent . . . and state the truth, redeems us.’ Where ‘Born in Time’ is concerned, Gray has been satisfied to assert and argue and declaim but he has hardly bothered anywhere to fulfil the more important tasks of the artist: he has not created worlds here, he has only argued about them. The Opies’ Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes p 65, no. 13:
Hush-a-bye a baa-lamb, Hush-a-bye a milk cow, We’ll find a little stick To beat the barking bow-wow.

© 2012 Paul Kirkman, ‘Messianic’ Dylanologist. All rights reserved


betrayed surely?