JOKERMAN Analysis: the Zombiesque Dylan World Rises Up & Says Goodbye to No One

The Jokerman and the Neighborhood Bully? They’re just one jumbi, which, like the Dylan world, contains (Whitmanesque) multitudes (of hayseeds). ‘Untold Dylan The meaning behind the songs of Bob Dylan’ on JOKERMAN at
Not even with the wildest imagination is there anything there that offers us any insight. I am not searching for meaning any more than I am searching for meaning in Jackson Pollock, to take the example that came into my head earlier. All I am doing is looking for an insight. A way of saying yes, this is why the melody is like it is, why we have a 2/4 verse and a 4/4 chorus. Why we have a Jokerman. I think Dylan was right in that interview – there is nothing but nothing here apart from a set of lines along a vaguely messianic theme to inappropriate music. And that is not to remove the one great track from the album, as some would have it. Rather it is to let us look elsewhere, where the issue is entirely Israel. Neighbourhood Bully, for example, is a song that I, with my political views, am extremely unhappy with, unless I twist the meaning so much I think I leave behind anything Dylan meant. But as a work of art, it is something far more than Jokerman ever became.

Compare Paul Zollo:
In the late '70s, Dylan found Christianity, and, according to rumor, was baptized in the swimming pool of singer and evangelist Pat Boone. His new religious identity took musical form in his 1979 album Slow Train Coming, which featured evangelistic songs about Christ, such as "When He Returns" and "I Believe In You." His next studio album, Saved (1980), remained in the Christian mode, but with a difference. One of the songs, "Every Grain Of Sand," led some Dylan watchers to speculate that he was returning to the Jewish fold: Don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake1 Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break, In the fury of the moment I can see the Master's hand In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand. Rumors of his return gained credibility in 1982 when Dylan and his son Jakob celebrated the 15-year-old's bar mitzvah in Israel (they were photographed together at the Western Wall). A year later Dylan released the album Infidels, which included on its inside cover a photograph of the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem. Although Infidels' lyrics still alluded to the New Testament, Dylan's attention had turned to the historical travails of the Jewish people. "The song 'Neighborhood Bully,'" notes Stephen Whitfield, "is a millennial history of unjust persecution with an unnuanced defense of a beleaguered Israel....":

Larry Yudelson at Tangled Up in Jews:
Who'll get there first is uncertain:

Neither do I

Salvation is no longer guaranteed. Faith is not what it used to be. Is it up to the Jokerman to save the sick and the lame? Will he make the effort? The political world is full of strife, of violent uprisings (the Palestinian Intifada begun in 1987 was not the first time in the decade that Israel hosted nightsticks, tear gas, Molotov cocktails and rocks). And it will get worse, the apocalypse is at hand. Only a matter of time until night comes stepping in. (Or is this only a false-hearted judgement of a web spinner?)

Whaaat? Clear as mudcake creature, Larry. Skylar Hamilton Burris rises up like a jumbi chasing a New Orleans shadow out of Sax Rohmer’s The Return of Dr Fu Manchu and saying goodbye to Larry Yudelson in ‘Using the Bible as a Key to Unlock the Meaning of Bob Dylan's "Jokerman"’:
Who is the "Jokerman" in Bob Dylan's enigmatic song? Some say Christ, some say antichrist, some say Israel...some even say Bob Dylan himself. The Biblical allusions to be found in the song may give us a clue as to its meaning . . . Note: While it is certainly true that modern day Israel (a place where we find "nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks, / Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain") is the setting of "Jokerman," I do not think the Jokerman himself is necessarily symbolic of Israel. The Jokerman appears to be a person, not a nation, although his actions are set against the backdrop of the nation. The metaphors and allusions attributed to Jokerman find numerous parallels in Christ, as I will argue in this paper. It may simply be that Dylan is using Christ as an adequate symbol of the persecution and alienation Jews have suffered throughout history, culminating in the modern day animosity toward the nationhood of Israel.

Compare from ‘the muddiest superhighway in the universe:
Reply-To: BEATBARD <> Sender: The Bob Dylan Discussion List <HWY61-L@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU> From: BEATBARD <beatbard@AOL.COM> Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364) Subject: Joker Man -Exegesis Are there any Dylan exegetes out there who have an interpretation of Joker Man from Infidels? ? is who is he talking to? Some suggest that JM is: Jesus, America,, the church, the nation of Israel.

Blown if I know. Paul Kirkman ‘Messianic’ Dylanologist 2012

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