For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Friday, 31 August 2007

Three Prophets

Dylan fans have always known that Bob has a touch of the John Dee or the Nostradamus about him. He's predicted much through the doom-laden warnings of some of his lyrics - in a generalized, artistic kind of way. Apocalypse is put into metaphor, and we feel the frisson of truth in such verses as Senor, senor, do you know where we're headin'? Lincoln County Road or Armageddon? (Senor, Tales of Yankee Power from Street Legal) or We live in a political world/Where mercy walks the plank/Life is in mirrors, death disappears/Up the steps into the nearest bank (Political World from Oh Mercy). The line But even the president of the United States/Sometimes must have to stand naked ( It's Alright, Ma, I'm Only Bleeding from Bringing It All Back Home) is universally true about people in power but also seems eerily to foreshadow Nixon, Clinton and now Bush, and always gets a big cheer at a Dylan gig. I was leafing through my copy of Bob Dylan Lyrics 1962-2001 (Simon & Schuster, 2004) last night and on almost the first page I turned to was printed the song Dark Eyes from Empire Burlesque which contains the line Oh, the French girl she's in paradise and a drunken man is at the wheel... Now I know the late Diana, Princess of Wales, was not French, but she was fatally in France, in Paris, exactly 10 years ago to this very day, and a drunken man was at the wheel (or so the French police seemed to prove), and she may be in paradise now for all I know, but she certainly was in paradise then, with Dodi Al-Fayed, during the weeks before the car crash in the Place de l'Alma underpass... So, a spooky prediction from Bob - and a strange instance of synchronicity for me, reading that line on the eve of the 10th anniversary of her death...

2 comments:

am said...

Yes. I remember listening to the song "Mississippi" from LOVE AND THEFT on September 11, 2001, the day it was released:

"Sky full of fire, pain pouring down"

Then there's "High Water (For Charley Patton)," with its vision so much like that of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

As he wrote in "Highlands":

"I'm wondering what in the devil could it all possibly mean?"

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, indeed. The false "Armageddon"
embarked on by Bush & Blair; the mercilessness in Guantanamo & Abu Ghraib; the current banks' home loans crisis... I really don't know what it all means. "Some things in life, it gets gets too late to learn..." What I often cling to in the end is the message of that wonderful song from EMPIRE BURLESQUE: "Trust Yourself".

On a lighter note, it's official: the UK's just had the wettest summer since records began. "Buckets of Rain"?