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View Diary: Books Go Boom!   Bob Dylan's Birthday: Are Rock Lyrics Poetry? (243 comments)

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  •  "He owned the language & it danced at his command" (4+ / 0-)

    Beautifully---and poetically---put.

    Dylan is certainly a master of imagery, and Like a Rolling Stone may indeed be his best, though I agree that the entire Highway 61 album was a fiery cascade of word pictures, second to none. Blonde on Blonde is right up there lyrically, as well. One of my faves for word play is Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, but virtually the entire album is a lyrical and musical masterpiece.

    Like any singer, Dylan had his lyrical duds when he was too literal or just plain boring, and I have to agree that a lot of that happened during his religious periods, and to some degree in the early folky stuff. Sometimes good music doesn't need lyrics.

    Fortunately for us, Dylan seemed to be a master of combining the two on an amazing number of occasions.

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Sat May 25, 2013 at 08:14:55 AM PDT

    •  I'm glad you enjoy my own smatterings of lyricism. (3+ / 0-)

      I think Blonde on Blonde is Dylan's largest album, with Highway 61 and Blood on the Tracks right behind. Dylan said Blonde on Blonde was where he came closest to capturing that "thin, wild mercury sound" that he heard in his head.

      I think there's some unevenness in the tracks on Blonde on Blonde, but that's partly because Dylan's charging in all directions at once (as the Beatles did on the White Album). Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again is epic and hilarious; Visions of Johanna is perhaps my favorite Dylan song; and I Want You is the most perfect pop gem he ever crafted.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sat May 25, 2013 at 12:41:06 PM PDT

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      •  That wild mercury sound indeed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, Monsieur Georges

        Someone should (and probably has) count the number of times the word mercury shows up in Dylan tunes. It seems like a lot...though maybe not as many times a backstreet jellyroll shows up in Van Morrison songs.

        I listened to all of Blonde on Blonde again today, and was struck by how much fun it is, mostly, and especially by the delightful I Want You.

        Visions of Johanna is a great song, but it's such a downbeat tune musically that I can't say it's a favorite. Of course the same could be said about Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, which I love nonetheless.

        Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

        by willyr on Sat May 25, 2013 at 02:38:40 PM PDT

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        •  He's also a Gemini, so he's ruled by Mercury. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Monsieur Georges, willyr

          I'm a great fan of Van Morrison too. He does repeat himself a lot: as on Astral Weeks, when he chants the same phrase until his words drift beyond consciousness; and, as Blake did, with his touchstone images. But every poet gathers favorite images.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Sat May 25, 2013 at 07:07:31 PM PDT

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