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Sabbath Day – Tangled Up In Blue

January 11, 2013

This has been a long longed for sabbath day.

Having just let go of a dream – an exchange of dreams, really – I have spent the day with Bob Dylan.

Much of my week, actually.

I’ve got over fifty studio, live and bootleg albums at hand, and I’m working my way through them, again.

As an artist who has famously remade himself again and again, Dylan has been my poetic companion during this time of change.


This morning I finished reading Michael Gilmour’s The Gospel According to Bob Dylan: The Old, Old Story for Modern Times (WJK, 2011). Gilmour uses Walter Benjamin to describe how a listener can have a constructive spiritual encounter with Dylan’s ambiguous but biblically informed lyrics. Gilmour also authored Tangled Up In Blue: Bob Dylan and Scripture (Continuum), which I read a few years ago.

I’m particularly listening to new or rarely listened to songs, with Lyrics – 1962-1985 near at hand. (I’ve yet to pick up the more recent edition, 1962-2005). I’m working my way up to a first listen of Tempest (2012), the newest album, which should arrive in the mail sometime next week.

As I am listening, I’ve also been perusing Sir Christopher Hick’s Dylan’s Vision of Sin. Hicks is a scholar of Milton, Keats, Eliot, Tennyson, Beckett and, of course, Dylan.

She opened up a book of poems and handed it to me

written by an Italian poet of the thirteenth century.

The reference, from Tangled Up In Blue, is obviously to Dante Alighieri, though whether it is to La Vita Nuova or to the more famous Divine Commedia, is open to debate. Hick’s re-writes this verse as “written by an English poet of the fourteenth century” and reads it as a reference to Robert Mannyng’s Handling Sin, an inventory of vice, itself a verse translation of a pastoral work by William of Wadington. As I have spent half a decade of post-graduate study in fourteenth century English pastoral works, I have always enjoyed this connection between Dylan and my scholarly pursuits.


I also read today half of Greil Marcus’ Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads – An Exploration of Vision and Humor that Forever Changed Pop Music (Public Affairs, 2005). Every bit as enjoyable and insightful as his earlier Invisible America: The World of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes (1999).


With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.


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