[Marxism] Dylan’s revolutionary lyrics celebrate play, protest

Greg McDonald gregmc59 at gmail.com
Wed Nov 2 04:53:04 MDT 2016


This is a fairly good article. I would disagree with the characterization
of "John Wesley Harding" as apolitical, however, given it contains "All
Along the Watchtower". That song is simply Isaiah (21: 5-9 ) put to music.
I'm not gonna quote scripture on the marxmail forum, so you can look it up
yourselves The point being the whole album carries a strong apocalyptic
tone, much like the rest of Dylan's work. Marqusee writes that a friend who
visited Dylan's home in Woodstock saw only two books on his table--a Bible
and a Hank Williams lyric sheet.

The album also rehashes the old "Joe Hill" song "I dreamed I saw St.
Augustine", with the Christian saint standing in for Joe. This was a
popular front song from the 30's written at a communist party-inspired
summer workshop in upstate NY.  Dylan's version contains the stunning line:
"No martyrs are among you now who you can call your own".  Not that there
were not martyrs, but that "the public world is now too inauthentic to
sustain anything as grand as a martyr", writes Marqusee. Ironically the
writer himself is one among the mob that has killed the saint. Marqusee
surmises "The only prophecy the artist can make with confidence is that he
and his message will be rejected by a world that values all the wrong
things". Hard to argue with that.  The song indicts us all.

I'm reminded here of two later songs, "Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)", and
"Everything is Broken". I like this version of the former, with Willie
Nelson backed up by Calexico:


And here's good old R.L. performing the latter:


That sounds like Derek Trucks on slide. Buddy Guy sits in as well.

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