Dylan is a genius. Right? Yes…..well….right. Right?
The answer is ‘right’. He is. He has written lyrics now part of our nations canon. He invented not only the singer songwriter style, but most of indie too. He wrote ‘Just Like A Rolling Stone’. Right.
There are perceptions about our American truculent troubadour. He was caught being a protest singer in the 60’s and dodged the rap immediately claiming he was no generation’s spokesman. And he really wasn’t. He wasnt political, just played rallies and wrote some beautiful protest music (Hattie Carroll) but he wasnt Woody Guthrie or Phil Ochs. He was no Billy Bragg.
I dont say these things to damn St Zimmerman. I say them to praise him.
Cause what Dylan did do was create a language, a style, painted pictures in fractured images and odd lyrical left turns. He challenged the people to follow him, while creating impossible word trails.
He created small little dramas within a song. Each verse, syllable by syllable, strum by strum, lines catch you and knit into the next…
Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin’ you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off…
Right? Just a perfect slice of perfect scene and color, to me bathed in dim amber noir. You get the sweet recall and the certain dread. I find myself getting lost in these words and rethink them while the record plays. Its a use of language that needs to be considered deeper. An opening of consciousness within the song. The track continues and you are elsewhere.
And it reminds me of something. Of being high. Which has happened.
And I focus on how fun it must have been being Bob Fucking Dylan and to play with the language, knowing that whatever he put out would be considered genius, by the fact that a genius is doing it. I have no idea if Dylan smoked pot but when you look deeper at the continuing ‘Visions Of Johanna’, I consider at what point he was just having a laugh. If youve ever heard Dylan bootlegs where the room busts up laughing, he has a boisterous laugh. He was probably fun to get high with. Assuming.
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze
I can’t find my knees”
And Madonna, she still has not showed
We see this empty cage now corrode
Where her cape of the stage once had flowed
The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes ev’rything’s been returned which was owed
On the back of the fish truck that loads
While my conscience explodes
Lines that are consciously off meter chock full of weird words that confound. Religion-a-cana. . Fish truck?
I put forth this: Bob Dylan was a genius.
Who may have smoked pot.
But defintely invented an entire new alphabet for people who smoke pot to write with.