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PostPosted: Mon November 14th, 2011, 19:32 GMT 

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pistol pete?


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PostPosted: Mon November 14th, 2011, 23:16 GMT 
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thickboy wrote:
in many ways 'Dignity' is the song that Shakespeare never wrote.

I agree with you there.
thickboy wrote:
Quite possibly Dylan's great lyric... certainly amongst his top five.

Not enough sex.


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PostPosted: Tue November 15th, 2011, 09:51 GMT 
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Even though it's not one of my favorites, the song keeps coming back to me again and again. Especially these days. You see newspaper headlines that have everything to do with dignity (or lack of it) and you know exactly what Dylan was saying.


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PostPosted: Thu December 22nd, 2011, 05:28 GMT 
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Shit, a lot of talk about Rochester here. I was row 2 center for that show if it was the one with Elvis Costello. I honestly don't remember Dignity there. I've seen him do it elsewhere though, too. Regardless, can anyone point to a link for me to find that Rochester show being referred to?


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PostPosted: Tue January 24th, 2012, 06:16 GMT 
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DIGNITY

Christopher Ricks

Trust Jokerman to include a hitherto-unreleased song among his Greatest Hits. (Just wait: it will be. That's a promise.) Everybody, whether fat man or thin man or Englishman, is looking for dignity. Some people even think of dignity as Wanted. "Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed/Dignity never been photographed". Dignity can't be snapped - or snapped. Every verse winds up there: "dignity". One of the best poems about a wry search for a necessity of life since, oh, Plain Dealing's Downfall, 300 years ago.

Mojo 2005 Reader’s Poll #42

Clinton Heylin

Dignity – has three vocal overdubs attributed to it, though only #2 and #3 are dated, both on 11 April 1989 (presumably also the date of overdub #1). The third vocal overdub is also given the soubriquet, “woman lyrics”. Hmmm. Since the take that appears on various bootlegs has the same vocal track (though x else) as the wretched husk of a song issued on Greatest Hits Volume 3 presumably one vocal track (or composite) got the vote way back in April 1989. Dignity was presumably still under serious consideration for Oh Mercy at this stage, given the effort implied in this many overdubs. Its omission from Oh Mercy, presumably to make way for the trite Disease Of Conceit, was a serious oversight, albeit one best left uncorrected if the only correction involved was the sort of musical plastering applied on Greatest Hits Volume 3. (If all the reader has as a reference point is the Greatest Hits Volume 3 abortion he will be wholly unprepared for the delights of Dignity’s untainted self. Wiping the entire backing track, retaining just Dylan’s 1989 vocal, which is then buried deep in the sand and glue of quasi-grunge, I might just compare with drawing a mustache, horn-rims and thick, bushy eyebrows on the Mona Lisa and asking someone to recognise its power all the same. Even Dylan’s piano, the fire in this particular engine room, has been wiped by 1994’s answer to Arthur Baker, Brendan O’Brien.) On the original song, the interplay between Brian Stoltz’s guitar, Dylan’s piano and Lanois’ “rockabilly dobro” (as it is identified on the track sheet) gives the song a momentum all its own. Foot Of Pride revisited it may be, but Dignity deserves better (as it happens, the Unplugged performance almost delivers the goods).

Paul Williams

Dignity, a song recorded during the March-April 1989 Oh Mercy sessions but not officially released until late-1994 (when the 1989 vocal performance was included on the album Greatest Hits Volume 3 with a partially rerecorded backing track), is another example of the very fine results sometimes produced by Dylan's songwriting approach of "just letting it happen" (this time he did not "reject the things that don't work" because there were not any, even if he did keep the song for himself for five years). When the flow of language is this inspired and the impact on the listener of subtle choices of words and images as brilliant and unexpected and deeply intelligent as this, it is natural to think of Dylan's songwriting here as "meticulously assembled" and "beautifully thought-out" and "thrillingly well-crafted." These quotes are from Michael Gray's comments on Dignity in Song And Dance Man III, and I certainly agree with the spirit of what Gray is saying in his enthusiastic assessment of the song (and I appreciate many of the specific insights Gray shares in his essay on Dignity – for example, the ramifications of and impact on the listener of the choice of "Prince Philip" as the name of the character who met the narrator at the home of the blues and "said he wanted money up front, said he was abused by dignity"). But the particular thing I'm pointing to here is process, the mysterious matter of how the songs come into existence. Particularly after contemplating Love And Theft, I believe that when Dylan says, "I don't sit and linger, meditate on every line," he is sincerely reporting that in his experience his songs are not thought out or carefully assembled, or crafted in the usual sense of the word; mostly they just flow out of him and then he wonders where that came from, and lets himself be guided by what just came out towards what might come next (thus, "stream of consciousness songs").

Gray in his essay notices and acknowledges the flowing stream of Dignity's narrative and language. The full paragraph containing the phrases quoted above is:

“What is so liberating and invigorating about Dignity is that while it is free-spirited and ineffably relaxed, fluid as mercury and malleable as clay on the wheel, it is at the same time meticulously assembled, as beautifully thought-out and thrillingly well-crafted as a major tap-es-tree.”

Quite right. But in the interests of clarity about the great songwriter's surprising process, I want to modify this to read "it at the same time appears meticulously assembled." My point is that, as he tells us in various interviews, Dylan does not think these things out while he is writing, instead he lets himself get into a mind-state where the language and narrative flow, where he is guided – and the fact that the result can seem so well-crafted and deliberate is a tribute to the skillfulness of his unconscious mind and a credit to his performer's discipline of following his Muse and just letting the music and language happen (not allowing his conscious mind to intervene) (not thinking it out, but just trusting in the guidance of some higher power, and reserving the right to edit later – in the case of songwriting and recording; on stage, where Dylan and his voice feel most at home, there is no chance to edit later).

It is possible, for example, that when Dylan began writing this song, his only notion was to describe various people ("fat man, thin man" "wise man, young man") looking for dignity in various places – "a blade of steel" in the first line and, happy but probably unplanned echo (performer's instincts), "a blade of grass" at the start of verse two – and then only as he reached for a bridging effect (break the pattern) in the third verse and heard the lines that poured forth ("Somebody got murdered on New Year's Eve / Somebody said dignity was the first to leave") did it occur to him (prompted forcefully and irresistibly by his unconscious mind) that the song could also be a murder mystery, with "dignity" the name of a person, the prime suspect, and thus the narrator a sort of detective tracking down the culprit (searching for Dignity as the fat man and wise man had been looking for his lower case, more abstract and less dastardly counterpart – another happy echo, again possibly quite spontaneous, in which case the craft of the author was primarily his agility at following the clues provided by his unconscious or Muse or intuition).

Gray in his book reports that "Nigel Hinton declares 'Dignity' to be his favourite of all the “big” songs of the last 20 years: more loved than Brownsville Girl, Angelina or even Blind Willie McTell.” Hinton wrote, in a letter Gray quotes:

“What I particularly like about it is the consistency of its conceit: Dylan as Sam Spade, or any one of those hard-bitten, cynical Los Angeles.-based private dicks, conducting his B-movie, film noir hunt through the corrupt world in search of the missing character, Dignity. I like the array of characters – all those sons of darkness and sons of light – typical of the wonderful supporting actors who people those films. And I love the little familiar scenes from the movies – the murder at the New Year's Eve party, the wedding of Maty Lou and the continual echo of films – the drinking man in a crowded room full of covered-up mirrors could come straight from Citizen Kane. The song even ends in the kind of despairing, enigmatic way that the best film noirs do – standing at the edge of the lake, knowing that everywhere leads to dead ends and that the case won't get solved. It's a black and white masterpiece.”

Since we know Dylan to be familiar with and fond of this sort of movie, and since we ourselves are familiar with his gift for language and his sense of humor and his storytelling skills and his performer's sense of and appreciation for song structure and timing and cadence, it is not such a mystery how this song could flow out of him once its narrative and structural premises presented themselves, once the floodgates were open, and instantly become a rich, complex, deeply satisfying invention that seems meticulously assembled and beautifully thought-out even though probably all he was doing was trying to write it down fast enough.

When good songs come to Dylan, they do seem to come in batches, as in the case of the Infidels songs and outtakes in 1983 and the Shot Of Love songs and outtakes in 1981. So it is interesting to speculate on how they encourage and influence each other and can be seen as extensions of the same creative moment, expressions of the same set of favorable conditions for songwriting. Dignity probably did not but easily could have originated as a discarded line from Political World, a song in which abstract nouns and human virtues often are spoken of as though they were persons: "Wisdom is thrown into jail, it rots in a cell" "Mercy walks the plank" "Peace is turned away from the door to wander some more." Similarly, in the 1989 version of Born In Time, the second bridge climaxes with the declaration, "I'm broken." – so one wonders if this could have been the origin of Everything Is Broken, which in its early Broken Days version is unambiguously a song about a man-woman relationship.

Michael Gray

The search for dignity is writ large all over Oh Mercy. It’s therefore a pity that the album opens with as weak an upbeat track as Political World, when the song Dignity would have been so much more germane. ‘Political World’, despite the multi-layering of the three guitars and dobro, and the double drumming (there are conga drums in there, credited as ‘percussion’), and despite one or two isolated flashes of cutting edge, is exactly the kind of rockin’ number that shouldn’t have made it onto the album. There’s no wildness, no clear sense of what Dylan is on about—and no heart in it, which is what makes it impossible to warm to. It’s a bore, as so many of these things are. Dylan’s account of wrestling with it, which he gives in Chronicles Volume One, is far more beguiling than the track itself.

At least as upbeat and rockin’ as ‘Political World’ but an infinitely better piece of writing, with a far more appealing melody, with heartfelt energy and good humour, the great song ‘Dignity’, which describes so resourcefully the yearning for a more dignified world, would have been the album’s ideal opening track. It scorches along musically, declaring its allegiance to the timeless appeal of the blues, while sounding, above all things, fresh. Its lyric, meanwhile, though ‘Dylanesque’ in that it sounds like no-one else’s work and sounds like a restrained, mature revisit to a mode of writing you might otherwise call mid- 1960s Dylan, is fully alert and freshly itself, admits of no leaning on laurels, and has the great virtue that while not every line can claim the workaday clarity of instructional prose, the song is accessible to anyone who cares to listen, and offers a clear theme, beautifully explored, with which anyone can readily identify.

‘It fits in,’ wrote Mel Gamble, ‘with . . . an album . . . based on self-examination . . . [and] the attempt to separate the important from the distractions and irrelevancies that clog up day to day life.’ The song is both one of those ‘you know [is] going to be special’ when you first hear the opening bars, and one of those where ‘you never want the song to end.’ For others, it is one of those like ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’, where every line might be the beginning of a separate song.

That would be a lot of separate songs—‘Dignity’ has 16 verses of four lines each, in which recurrently the singer describes a lengthy search for dignity in the turmoil of a fragmented world in which people jostle and hustle among themselves but show no sign of genuine community, and in which places are also described as lost, inhospitable and bleak. All this is achieved, however, at a rollicking pace, with dancing deftness and indomitable humour, so that the mood of the song is the opposite of bleak.

The verses divide between two different rhymeschemes. The predominant one uses the attractive AAAB pattern, with the ‘B’ the same in every verse of this construction, because each ends on the title word ‘dignity’—and how he loves to land on it! He rolls it around in his mouth, slowing it down, feeling its contours—‘dig-ni-teeee!’—as if in the very act of saying it he can explore its elusive qualities. This core construction, and many of its lyric ground-rules, are established in the opening verse: ‘Fat man lookin’ in a blade of steel / Thin man lookin’ at his last meal / Hollow man lookin’ in a cottonfield / For dignity.’

Some of the song’s characters are bumming and hustling, watching their backs or chancing their arm but many, though living in what seems insoluble isolation, are united with the narrator in a common yearning for the dignity missing in contemporary life. No moral superiority is being claimed here by the writer. This is the ballad of a thin man, fat man, hollow man, wise man, young man, poor man, blind man, drinkin’ man, sick man and Englishman. Plus a couple of somebodies, the cops, Mary Lou, the maid, Prince Philip, the sons of darkness and the sons of light, another somebody and a someone, plus the tongues of angels and tongues of men in general.

There are 11 more verses of this construction, plus four that are built differently, in an AABC pattern, where the B and C may or may not halfrhyme. The first time around, they do (this is the third verse): ‘Somebody got murdered on New Year’s Eve / Somebody said dignity was the first to leave / I went into the city, went into the town / Went into the land of the midnight sun’, in which there is a half-rhyme between ‘sun’ and ‘town’.

Next time around, in verse seven, there is a sort of semi-rhyming, if you will, between ‘men’ and ‘me’: ‘I went down where the vultures feed / I would have gone deeper but there wasn’t any need / I heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men / And there wasn’t any difference to me.’ (That second line is a fine example of the song’s freshness, with its apparent spontaneity of direct address—its undercutting of the declamatory by the unexpected straightforwardness of informal conversationality, its clipped modernity of tone.)

But in the two verses of this pattern later in the song—verses 11 and 15—there is no such halfrhyming, and the unusual AABC pattern is strictly observed. The effect is not at all that you notice, in listening, an absence of resolving rhyme, but that combined with the unresolved fifth note of the scale on which the final word of each verse lands, your ear waits for what is to come: tells you that there is more to come, that the search for dignity is itself not resolved. Thus form becomes realised as content.

The difference of shape between the two kinds of verse is matched by quiet distinctions in their subject matter. The format of ‘Fat man . . . Thin man . . . Englishman . . .’ never occurs in the AABC verses, which tend to focus on places the narrator goes—great, sweeping places—rather than on characters: ‘I went into the city, went into the town, / Went into the land of the midnight sun . . .’; ‘I went down where the vultures feed . . .’; ‘In the bordertowns of despair . . .’; ‘Into the valley of dry bone dreams . . .’ When he does encounter people in these sections of the song, they too are presented in vague or sweeping generalised terms: ‘Footsteps runnin’ cross the silver sand . . .’; ‘Somebody got murdered . . .’; ‘Somebody said . . .’; ‘Someone showed me . . .’; ‘I heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men . . .’; ‘I met the sons of darkness and the sons of light . . .’

However, these distinctions between the two sorts of verses are never stressed, and the entire song is repeatedly interwoven with threads of correspondence, sometimes of the most delicate and subtle kind and sometimes with robust, abrasive mock-correspondences that keep you stimulated and guessing. Thus there are phrases that echo each other in form but depart in content, for example as when that ‘went into the city, went into the town’ is slyly mismatched later by ‘went into the red, went into the black’, or when different kinds of metaphor are bumped together as if they are of the same order, or even as if they are not metaphors at all but actual physical actions, as with the splendid ‘He bites the bullet and he looks within’, where there is the added surreal implication that the one ‘action’ is consequent upon the other: that he bites the bullet and then looks within to see what damage the bullet has caused, or where it’s landed, and whether he’s still alive.

There are many such games played here, and played lightning-fast, in passing. Since Dignity is spoken of throughout as a missing character, as in detective fiction (as in a film), might not ‘Somebody’ be a character too—such that when Dylan sings that ‘Somebody got murdered on New Year’s Eve / Somebody said Dignity was the first to leave’ this not only has the odd effect of making Dignity the prime suspect (rather than simply a Good Guy) but also makes it possible to see at this murder scene that it is Somebody’s own dying testimony that fingers Dignity.

The opening couplet alone has weird comic resonances. ‘Fat man lookin’ in a blade of steel / Thin man lookin’ at his last meal’, which draws on the two meanings of ‘his last meal’, achieves by doing so a bizarre fleeting picture of the fat man wielding either a carving-knife or an executioner’s blade: either way putting him into an uneasy relationship with the thin man. At the very least, you wonder if the thin man is looking at his own last meal or at the fatman’s stomach, into which what should have been his own meal has just disappeared.

Then there is this quiet implied pun on thinning hair, almost at the end of the song (balancing the thin man at its beginning): ‘Combin’ his hair back, his future looks thin’, and the adroit comic moment in this surreal one-line scene: ‘Met Prince Philip at the home of the blues’, very pleasingly augmented like this: ‘He said he’d give me information if his name wasn’t used / He wanted money up front, said he was abused / By Dignity.’

It would be high comedy merely for a Dylan song to mention Prince Philip, but to place him in so unlikely a milieu as anywhere that might call itself ‘the home of the blues’ creates a glorious incongruity. It also creates a sort of namesake version of Prince Philip in the mind: putting him together with the idea of the blues conjures up a figure in that other destination-point of the black diaspora, the Caribbean, in which there are plenty of flamboyant singers and musicians with names like Prince Buster. Making you hear Prince Philip as a name of this sort is a fine bonus comic payoff.

As the lines pile up, of course, so does the preposterousness of the Prince Philip idea. Hence no sooner have we savoured the picture of this meeting, and its meeting-place, than we relish the notion of him acting the cheap con-artist, offering to sell suspect information right there on the street and then throwing in a hard-luck story for good measure—or else we picture it now as being someone else, someone who is a con-artist, with Dylan throwing in the extra joke that while he’s claiming to be this extravagantly high-profile and notoriously indiscreet figure, he’s also trying to do a deal that hinges upon protecting his anonymity.

And at the end of the verse, if we take it that this is Prince Philip, Dylan’s ‘said he was abused / by Dignity’ works as a wonderfully compressed summation of how it might feel to be trapped inside the machinery of the Royal Family. To characterise a lifetime of dressing up and parading about in risible ritual and ceremonial show as ‘abused by Dignity’ is confident cutting to the bone indeed. And to put this complaint into the mouth of someone as brutishly insensitive and graceless as Prince Philip, whose name is a byword for the unthinking verbal abuse of others, is delicious. To achieve all this in 30 words is, well, Dylanesque.

The detail of the song is always careful; everything dovetails; everything is balanced; and where there is doubt, ambiguity or contradiction, it is intended. The list of who is looking where, for example, shows evidence of the kind of care absent in the listings in ‘Everything Is Broken’. The young man looks ‘in the shadows that pass’—a poetic ellipse of the idea that the young, impatient of history and precedent, are entranced by the illusions of the moment, believing that ‘now’ is the only worthwhile moment, while his opposite—not the old man but the wise man (the old not necessarily being wise at all)—looks ‘in a blade of grass’: that is, in something that sounds just as fragile and temporary as a passing shadow but is strong enough to hold several connotations. We might take it that, like every grain of sand, it is in such things as the blade of grass that the believer ‘can see the master’s hand’; or, like Blake, we might take it that in looking in the blade of grass, again as into a grain of sand, he is seeking a vision of the world. We can take it that unlike the young man in thrall to the temporarily fashionable, the wise man understands that the natural world is all that really matters. We can take it that by its very temporariness the blade of grass tells the essential truth that ‘everything passes’—that everything ‘comes to pass’, to quote from Bob Dylan and to remember a fragment of a different poet’s work (John Crowe Ransom’s ‘Spectral Lovers’) quoted by Christopher Ricks in the essay on Dylan’s use of American and English English, ‘Cliche´s That Come to Pass’: ‘. . . swishing the jubilant grass / Beheading some field-flowers that had come to pass.’

At times, too, ‘Dignity’ offers unlooked-for extra tidiness, as when that ‘blade of grass’ in verse two echoes the ‘blade of steel’ in verse one, or when, in that first verse, there is the neat gradation in lines one-two-three of men who run fat-thinhollow, while all through the song small surprises act as cumulative energy, a recurrent renewal of stimulus, as when we expect, after ‘searching high, searching low’ that ‘searching everywhere I’ will be completed by ‘go’ and isn’t: it’s ‘searching everywhere I know’ instead.

In the 12th verse, out of nowhere, and to most pleasing effect, we suddenly get, for the first and only time, an extra rhyme, by means of an internal rhyme, on one of the AAA lines: ‘. . . got no coat / . . . in a jerkin’ boat / Tryin’ to read a note somebody wrote / About dignity.’ This both disrupts the pattern we’ve grown to know and at the same time of course is not mere surprise for it’s own sake but to make the line enact the ‘jerkin’’ motion he’s ascribing to the boat. (Regrettably, he has always revised this line in concert to eliminate the internal rhyme, altering it to the inferior ‘Tryin’ to read a letter somebody wrote’.)

Nigel Hinton declares it to be his favourite of all the ‘big’ songs of the last 25 years: more loved than ‘Brownsville Girl’, ‘Angelina’ or even ‘Blind Willie McTell’. He writes: ‘What I particularly like about it is the consistency of its conceit: Bob Dylan as Sam Spade, or any one of those hard-bitten, cynical LA-based private dicks, conducting his B-movie, film noir search through the corrupt world in search of the missing character, Dignity. I like the array of characters—all those sons of darkness and sons of light—typical of the wonderful supporting actors who people those films (Sidney Greenstreet as the Fat Man, Elisha Cook Jnr. as the Blind Man, and Thelma Ritter as the maid, perhaps?).

And I love the little familiar scenes from those movies—the murder at the New Year’s Eve party, the wedding of Mary Lou who, frightened and nervously looking over the singer’s shoulder at the other guests, whispers that she could get killed if she told him what she knew (played by the young Lauren Bacall?), and the continual echo of films—the drinking man in a crowded room full of covered up mirrors could come straight from Citizen Kane (played by Joseph Cotten—drink, instead of cigarettes). The images come straight from a medley of dimly remembered movies: the chilly winds blowing the palms; the house on fire; looking out of a window from behind billowing net curtain while asking the maid for some hot poop on the case; the bordertowns of despair (Mexico, of course— perhaps A Touch of Evil, Orson Welles’ Tijuana masterpiece); the blackheart wind sending those tumbleweeds rolling down the dusty street while the Englishman (Leslie Howard) stands there so inconguously, combing his hair back; the sick bed of the the man who lovingly fingers his books while praying for a cure; and the con artist pretending he’s Prince Philip and trying to bum some money in exchange for dodgy information—‘abused by dignity’, him: ha!

‘Dignity is also so perfectly what the Sam Spade persona would be looking for. Truth, Fame, Fortune, Hope, Faith and all the other rewards offered by the world or the illusions offered by the purveyors of the spiritual world have been seen through by this guy—he’s heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men and he can’t see any difference. The most he can hope for is to live with dignity: but in this corrupt and deluded age, where and what is it? And in this topsy-turvy place the most you get by way of help is a note that somebody wrote—but of course you’re trying to read it on a rolling river in a jerking boat: a wonderful metaphor for the struggle of trying to make sense of things. Such an alive and direct picture of us all, without comfort (no coat) and with nowhere to hide (fade), in our little craft being swept headlong towards the rapids, trying to find out why.

‘And the language is so Chandleresque: ‘‘the valley of dry-bone dreams’’, ‘‘bites the bullet’’, wind ‘‘sharp as a razor blade’’. The song even ends in the kind of despairing, enigmatic way that the best films noirs do—standing at the edge of the lake, knowing that everywhere leads to dead ends and that the case won’t get solved. It’s a black and white masterpiece.’

As with so much of Dylan’s finest writing, its credible possibilities are open, and the opposite of limiting. ‘Dignity’ makes perfect sense in that film noir context: it holds its own, as Hinton says, as that sustained conceit. Yet the song’s fundamental quest for something both precious and elusive through a world of travail holds to a far more ancient archetype, and as such resonates on other levels. The archetype of this quest is also contained, for instance, in the search for the Holy Grail (medieval legend having it that the bowl used by Christ at the Last Supper was brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, so that in the time of knights in silver armour, seeking its whereabouts was a physical and spiritual quest). It is there too in the Pilgrim’s Progress of JOHN BUNYAN’s hero, Christian (of which more shortly). While Bob Dylan summarises such questing in a single line of his 1970s song ‘Dirge’—‘In this age of fiberglass, I’m searching for a gem’—‘Dignity’ devotes itself to envisaging such a quest.

It succeeds at doing so in the genre of Hollywood film noir, but there’s also more than a hint here of the ordeals of Job, when God has afflicted him and he wanders, seeking recognition and the restoration of dignity, and asking ‘How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?’ As he wanders, he asks the servant for recognition—in effect, ‘have you not seen me?’—just as Dylan’s narrator asks the maid has she not seen Dignity. As we know, Job’s faith triumphs and he finds acceptance in the end, but not before being in the position Dylan parallels at the inconclusive end of ‘Dignity’, where there are ‘So many dead ends, so much at stake.’

In Job’s case he cries out that God ‘hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths.’ As with Job, there is a strong mood of ‘how long, Lord?’ (or as Dylan expresses it elsewhere, ‘How much longer? How much longer?’) about the wanderings here in search of ‘Dignity’, which ends on ‘Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take / To find dignity.’

As Dylan does so magnificently well elsewhere, here too we have a case where he rides the parallel lines between biblical language and modern American speech. Nigel Hinton hears ‘the valley of dry-bone dreams’ as ‘so Chandleresque’—yet this lovely phrase draws upon, but does not better, one wonderful sound-bumping line from blues artist Arthur Crudup, ‘I went down in Death Valley, among the tombstones and dry bones’: a line that Dylan might have written and been admired for.

In turn, as Crudup’s mention of ‘Death Valley’ hints, this is poetic ellipsing of biblical text. The ‘valley of the shadow of death’ resides in the Old Testament book that follows Job, in Psalm 23:4— through which its narrator, David, walks fearing no evil, knowing that God is with him; and many gospel lyrics have been founded upon this text.

The splendid 1930 Lonnie Johnson title ‘Death Valley Is Just Half Way to My Home’ may hover in the back of Arthur Crudup’s and Bob Dylan’s mind. There’s also ‘You’ve Got to Walk That Lonesome Valley’, a ‘sermon with singing’ by Rev. F.W. McGee. (The fusion of biblical with modern American speech is contained in the very name Death Valley, of course; it is a US National Monument in California-Nevada, serendipitously just west of Las Vegas and almost immediately south-west of Skull Mountain and the Nellis Air Force nuclear testing site.)

Among the 123 other verses of the King James Bible that contain a ‘valley’, many involve travail experienced as rather more arduous than David’s, and these include ‘the valley of slaughter’ and ‘the valley of the dead bodies’ in Jeremiah, and in Ezekiel ‘the valley which was full of bones.’ The phrase ‘dry bones’ comes only from Ezekiel (37:3–4), in which the prophet, set down in a valley of human bones, is asked by God, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ to which Ezekiel replies ‘O Lord God, thou knowest.’ So God says ‘. . . say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ Through Ezekiel’s unlimited faith and willingness, and God’s power, the whole valleyful of bones becomes fleshed out, and the people of Israel come alive again.

This is not, in the end, the same place as Death Valley, and it is this vision that is the stimulus for further gospel songs called ‘Dry Bones in the Valley’ and even ‘In the Valley of Dry Bones’. In turn, Dylan’s ‘In the valley of dry-bone dreams’ draws upon these phrases.

The song holds other moments and phrases where Dylan bestrides such parallel lines. Nigel Hinton’s ‘Sam Spade persona’ can quite well be described as having ‘heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men’ and seen through both. You can hear the phrase on the tongue of Dylan’s old favourite, Humphrey Bogart; yet as Dylan and Nigel Hinton both know, the phrase rearranges that in St. Paul’s address to the Corinthians: ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.’ (I Corinthians 13:1.)

Dylan swaps this around doubly. First, either for the sake of cadence or the more neatly to make his point that there ‘wasn’t any difference’ between them, he puts his angels before his men. Second, where Paul’s illustration has him speaking with the two kinds of tongue, Dylan has his narrator listening to them instead. And in saying that there ‘wasn’t any difference’, Dylan manages to emphasise the part of Paul’s text that he doesn’t actually cite at all: namely, that those he hears speaking are all ‘as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.’

There is one other extraordinary parallel that Dylan achieves inside his song. While Nigel Hinton hears the lines ‘Drinkin’ man listens to the voice he hears / In a crowded room full of coveredup mirrors’ as part of ‘the continual echo of films’, in this case calling to mind Joseph Cotten in Citizen Kane, the same lines also depict a scene from Jewish religious ritual. To observe the practice of shiva, during the period of mourning after a funeral, the committed mourners must gather together in one of their houses and remain there a week. Inside the house, no music can be played and every mirror must be covered up.

Far more thoroughgoingly, however, ‘Dignity’ parallels Christian’s journey of quest for the Celestial City in The Pilgrim’s Progress (a quest presented as a dream in Bunyan’s book). Christian too has to pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, as well as a river (the River of the Water of Life), somewhere on fire (the Burning Mount) and despair (the Giant Despair). Dylan’s long geographical cataloguing of his wide-ranging journey (‘searching high, searching low’), including travelling into the city, into the town, into the land of the midnight sun, down where the vultures feed, across the silver sand, down into—in a beautifully Dylanesque flash of existential truth—‘Tattoo Land’, as well as along so many roads and up against so many dead ends, is the equivalent of the geographical catalogue in Pilgrim’s Progress, which takes in the Hill Difficulty, the Valley of Humiliation, By-path Meadow, Doubting Castle and, most famously, the Slough of Despond.

And just as Dylan’s song presents the quality of Dignity as a character, so Bunyan gives us characters called Ignorance, Much-afraid and, yes, Mercy. The Dylan song is sly, quick-witted, darkly modern and full of Americana where Bunyan’s work was pious, plodding and bursting with 17th century England; but Bunyan’s work was written as an allegory of the Christian life and ‘Dignity’ too can withstand being seen, and even intended, as just such an allegory.

Nigel Hinton sees his movie ending ‘at the edge of the lake, knowing that everywhere leads to dead ends and that the case won’t get solved’; but does the song end so darkly? The last word is not of dead ends but with the ‘How long, Lord?’ question, the keep-on-keeping-on faith that holds on through all trials and tribulations, implying that the quest will be pursued and that eventual success is anticipated. It is only in the meantime, and sometimes, that resolve flags: ‘Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take / To find Dignity.’ ‘How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces . . . ?’, as Job puts it when times are tough in different times—and the point about Ezekiel’s valley of dry bone dreams is that in the end, through faith, new life is given.

Dylan’s commentary on the writing and recording of ‘Dignity’, given in Chronicles, is fascinating, not least for the background information that it came to him the day he heard the news of the death of the basketball player Pistol Pete Maravich, who collapsed and died on a Pasadena basketball court—‘just fell over and never got up’— and for the energised description of how the song came about. ‘It’s like I saw the song up in front of me and overtook it,’ he writes, before also explaining why, having written it, he was in no hurry to rush into recording it, and then, in due course, what a struggle the attempt to record it duly proved. (See O’Brien, Brendan.)

In spite of these difficulties, as a song it succeeds completely. What is so liberating and invigorating about ‘Dignity’ is that while it is freespirited and ineffably relaxed, fluid as mercury and malleable as clay on the wheel, it is at the same time so meticulously assembled, beautifully thought-out and thrillingly well-crafted.

Oliver Trager

A trunk song (that is, a stashed-away and forgotten leftover) Dylan had written some years before he unveiled it on Greatest Hits Volume 3 and included on his MTV Unplugged appearance (and recording) just a few months later, Dignity struck some Dylanists as little more than over-hyped, glorified filler at best and crass exploitation at worst, though Dylan did perform the song at a few 1995 European shows. Because it was the first “new” Dylan composition many had heard in years, and because it trod, albeit in a mature way, on the familiar ground of his latest diagnosis of the world gone wrong, it is not hard to see why it received a 1996 Grammy nomination for best rock song. Here Dylan personifies the concept of Dignity as an intangible and slippery, shadowy phantom character who skirts around the background scenery in a way not dissimilar to the titled playing card in his own song Lily Rosemery And The Jack Of Hearts. Of course, this literary conceit is nothing new. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (which in some ways Dignity mirrors), for example, is stepped in personifications of such human concepts as ignorance and mercy. Even with these and other high-minded artistic allusions and biting subtexts, Blind Willie McTell or even Foot Of Pride, the critics contend, this is not quite.

Defenders of Dignity place it more accurately in the lineage of the big Dylan songs of his latter career. This is an arc that probably began with Jokerman, took a left turn with Brownsville Girl, stopped for a smoke with Angelina, picked up steam with Dignity and crested with Things Have Changed. If a greater number of these statements were available in abundance on just about any Dylan album from the 1960s, even the casual Dylan watcher has to be satisfied when they do emerge. Hey, nobody seems to complain when Martin Scorsese takes a few years between films.

Structurally and thematically, Dignity owes itself a debt to at least a couple of Dylan’s earliest great works, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall and Desolation Row. As in both of those songs, here the narrator is on a quest – adrift in a landscape of uncertainty and corruption described as a “valley of dry bone dreams”. He meets a series of characters whose (sometimes self-referential) relation to both himself and Dignity is unsettling. For instance, when he begins the song by describing a ‘fat man lookin’ in a blade of steel” and “a thin man lookin’ at his last meal”, he suggests an uneasy relationship between the two. Is the fat man about to drop the guillotine blade on the neck of the thin man, or is he merely going to weild a carving knife as a mortal weapon? Even dropping the name of the thin man appears to be a self-referential nod to the clueless dupe of his famous ballad and a hint that Mr Jones is finally about to meet his maker. Or perhaps, on a completely different track, this is a veiled reference to the cat-and-mouse game played by Sydney Greenstreet and Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, surmised to be a Dylan film favourite, which he drew on for some of the lyrics in the Empire Burlesque songs. And the hollow man would seem a direct reference to “the Hollow Men”, TS Eliot’s diagnostic poem of the post-World War 1 western world. Such is the power (and fun) of Dylan’s great songs – they allow for so many varied interpretations and source hunting.

From there, the narrator takes the listener on a guided tour of a neo-Desolation Row specially face-lifted for the millennium by some unscrupulous real estate developer. Through this shifty terrain worthy of a dime-store mystery novel, we follow him on his search for dignity, an elusive trait that seems to have bypassed humanity and has gladly sold its soul for some loose change or a half-empty bottle of Tokay. Whether engaging in a surreptitious meeting with Mary-Lou at her own wedding, visiting the land where vuyltures feed, hanging out in a watering hole populated by vampires, encountering Prince Phillip (or his calopso double?) at the home of the blues, trying to read a note on a jerking boat (the Titanic?), or venturing into a dozen other weird scenes inside the gold mine, with their promises and inevitable dead ends, our wandering searcher (Moses disquised as Sam Spade) seems only to come up with his hands as empty as when he set out on his journey. This post-card of the hanging has been returned (postage due) “address unknown”.

Age has treated Dignity well. Dylan’s spring 2003 concerts featured a stripped-down, nearly bubbly arrangement highlighted by his razor-edge vocals taking the listener on a tour of a world that seemed to have lost any sense of the titular world.

Clinton Heylin

Published lyric/s: Lyrics 04. [Recorded version: In His Own Words]

Known studio recordings: Emlah Court, New Orleans LA, late February, 1989 [CHR] [TTS 1]; 1305 Soniat, 13 March 1989; mid-March 1989; 11 April 1989 [new vocal - 3 takes]. [GH3/BoB2 -1 take] [TTS 2 -1 take]

First known performance: Unplugged, Sony Studios, New York City, 17 November 1994.

“Of the virtues, I suppose I think integrity is the most essential. Not dignity – a thief can have dignity.” Dylan to Barbara Kerr, February 1978

It could be argued that the one song which defined the general artistic direction on all four of Dylan's all-original 1980s albums ended up being discarded – leaving a gaping hole at the heart of each released artefact. After omitting Caribbean Wind in 1981, Foot Of Pride in 1982 and New Danville Girl in 1985, Dylan completed the set in 1989 with a fourth ace in the hole – Dignity. And, as with those other songs, he continued to claim Dignity was one he never quite finished even if, like New Danville Girl, it was never entirely forgotten.

In one of the more vivid passages in Chronicles, he describes both the song's remarkably painless birth in January 1988 (“I started writing it in the early afternoon and it took me the rest of the day and into the night”) and the series of near-death experiences it suffered at the New Orleans sessions in March 1989. He dates the actual composition remarkably precisely, telling us he wrote it the day he heard about the death of ex-basketball player Pete Maravich. He does not tell us when this was, but Maravich died on 5 January 1988. The death of this peripheral figure who fleetingly crossed the singer's radar here triggers another song about Man's conceits. Maravich's final words, before dropping dead of a congenital heart condition, aged just 40, suggest he found little dignity in death: “I feel great.”

And, as with Political World, it would appear that Dylan just kept writing verse after verse around this simple idea, personifying Dignity in much the way evil had been personified through the ages under a number of monikers. Like Old Nick, no one actually knows what this figure looks like because “Dignity [has] never been photographed.” He soon realized that “on a song like this, there's no end to things”. And so it proved. He was riffing on the conceit, like a latter-day Lord Buckley.

In one of those rare candid sections in his autobiography, Dylan admits that if he had written Dignity ten years earlier, he would “have gone immediately to the recording studio. But a lot had changed and I didn't feel the urge and necessity of it.” He did not feel that uncontrollable urge for another 14 months. Only in late-February 1989 did Dylan and his producer Daniel Lanois convene at Lanois' Studio On The Move in New Orleans. Almost immediately they cut a couple of demos to be going along with, of which Dignity was one. An eight-verse piano demo mirrored a similar solo recording of Ring Them Bells, and demonstrated that he really could shuffle this lyric any which way he wanted. Two verses sung here had disappeared entirely from the song by the next time he cut it:

“Stranger stares down into the light,
From a platinum window in the Mexican night,
Searching every blood-sucking thing in sight, for dignity.”

“The soul of a nation is under the knife,
Death is standing in the doorway of life,
In the next room a man fighting with his wife, over dignity.”

Unlike Ring Them Bells, though, the Dignity demo is incomplete, breaking down around the two and a half minute mark, as Dylan blows the line when Mary Lou says “she could get killed if anyone saw her talking to me”. Already Dylan has asked of the engineer, “Is this anything?” before complaining at the end, “It just don't feel right.” A two-minute edit of this demo appeared initially as a promo CD for Chronicles, and then on Tell Tale Signs.

From now on the recording history gets messy. Krogsgaard gives just a single date for the recorded version (13 March 1989), to which overdubs were then applied on 28 March and 11 April 1989, but even he admits this section of his sessionography is “incomplete as to the rough tapes. That is: much more was recorded than what is listed. On the other hand, information about the released tracks is quite precise, including dates for overdubbing.”

What our Danish friend perhaps means to say is that although he had access to multitrack sheets for the known songs, like the one previously reproduced in Recording Sessions for Broken Days (Everything Is Broken), he had not found all (or most) of the session tapes, and generally relied on the track sheets even when they were contradicted by other resources. To render the results even more problematic, Lanois ran a “live” two-track throughout the sessions, which recorded various important performances that went undocumented on multitrack.

At least we should be grateful a fastidious engineer not only indicated any overdubs to the multitrack but generally – at least in Dylan's case – dated them. Because of the relevant track sheet, we know that Dylan recorded a “live vocal” for Dignity, and that there were at least three subsequent attempts to overdub a new vocal, two of which came on 11 April 1989 (there was also a “Repair Voc[al] Piano #1”, presumably to repair some deficiency in the original live vocal/piano tracks). Of these later overdubs, one has been cryptically identified as “woman lyrics”, a mystery the release of Tell Tale Signs resolved by the simple expedient of releasing this version (so indicated in the production notes). Of the nine/ten new verses, three are devoted to yet more angels of the hearth:

“Dignity is a woman that knows,
Dignity moves like a tropical wind that blows,
Into the cities, into the towns, into the land of the midnight sun.”

“Dignity is a woman unspoiled
By fame and greed, and snakes that're coiled,
In the damp woods, on the river's edge, near the green, green grass of home”

“Dignity is a woman that's light,
She don't tease, she don't travel at night,
Dignity is a woman that bleeds like the hot Egyptian sun.”

These do not sound like spontaneous outpourings even of an inspired poet. They are alternative lines, and not necessarily ones which were there from the outset. He is trying to impose them at this late date (11 April 1989) because he wants to see if they might help put the song back on track. It was a trick he tried a number of times at these sessions. The long gestation period these songs enjoyed drove Dylan to revisit some of them repeatedly, even after the sessions were well underway. As Oh Mercy's co-engineer Mark Howard recently told Uncut: “He would always be working on his lyrics. He'd have a piece of paper with thousands of words on it, all different ways, you couldn't even read it. Words going upside-down, sideways, all over this page. I never saw him eat. He drank coffee and smoked cigarettes, and he'd sit chipping away at the words, pulling in [lines] from other songs.”

Rewriting the song was not the only way Dylan had of helping Dignity return to a state of grace during these long and arduous sessions. Having demoed it solo, probably at Emlah Court where the sessions began, he tells us he cut it next with “only” guitarist Brian Stoltz and drummer Willie Green. According to Dylan the chronicler, “This was the first song we did that delivered.” Even though he felt the song was fine “the way we had just cut it, with a minimum of instruments and the vocal up front”, Lanois convinced him to cut the song again, “the next night,” with Rockin' Dopsie And His Cajun Band.

Dylan, not for the first time, went along with Lanois. It did not work. But it was already a raison d'etre of these sessions to try songs every conceivable way. As guitarist Mason Ruffner told Damien Love, “Seems like we were cutting these songs all kinds of ways. Rock groove, slow groove, a funk or folk kind of groove, just trying different grooves and different tempos to this stuff. He didn't say much about what he was after. It just seemed like it was all a big experiment, try the song 20 different ways.”

This was hardly the first time Dylan embraced such an approach. As early as December 1977, when his first standing band was rehearsing at Rundown, he was doing something similar, as guitar-tech/sidekick Joel Bernstein recalls: “Once it was reasonably together, he got them to play certain songs in different ways, in one key and then another key and then half-time, then country, then reggae, then rocked up. It was a real experimental thing but he had his own idea about what was the best one to do.”

In the case of an important song like Dignity, though, such an approach went against the grain. The Rockin' Dopsie session – at which they also cut Where Teardrops Fall and an impromptu Congratulations – became one sustained exercise in deconstructing Dignity. Whatever they did, it seemed to Dylan that “every performance was stealing more energy. [We] recorded a lot, varying the tempos and even the keys.” He knew it was time to go back to “the demo with Willie and Brian”, which “had sounded effortless”. But before he did that, he and Lanois spent an evening listening to every take of Dignity. Immediately Dylan realized, “Where[ever] we had started from, we'd never gotten back to. In no take did we ever turn back the clock.”

They decided to shelve the song. Indeed, according to our would-be chronicler, they “never did go back to it”. They definitely did. The track sheet tells us that he was still working on the song as late as 11 April 1989, at one of the last sessions where he sought to impose new vocal personae on the songs. The 11 April 1989 versions took as their template that :demo with Willie and Brian” – which also evidently featured Tony Hall on bass. What drives this 13 March 1989 version is Dylan's piano, which rides the song like a long-haired mule, applying the odd kick when it lags, before steering it through the gates of the city.

In the past, Dylan's vocal would have played off his piano-playing (Dear Landlord or Sign On The Window) in a way no overdub ever could. But for all the overdubbing, it was what Lanois left in from that original three-piece recording that provided a most annoying backdrop. The persistent tap-tap-tap of a snare drum is there on both channels throughout the entire song, like a buzzing mosquito that will not go away. On the track sheet, it even says “transfer [to both channels?] and boost”, like it needed highlighting. It was symptomatic of Lanois' tendency to clutter tracks. The full track sheet shows the residue of Rockin' Dopsie's input. “Rockabilly dobro”, “Up-beat acc[ordion]” and “Ba Da Ba Da Horns – Fats Domino style” are all there spread across the 24 tracks, but are absent from the versions on The Best of Bob Dylan Vol. 2 and Tell Tale Signs.

As the original solo piano demo proves, every sound not tethered to that relentless riff acts as a distraction from the vocal and lyric. And Dylan knew he had some really good lines here – even if he seems to be evincing little solace from the faith that had sustained him for the past decade. The couplet:

“Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men / Wasn't any difference to me”

directly references 1 Corinthians,

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass” (13:1)

a statement intended to convey the idea that without a spirit of charity all gifts are valueless. Elsewhere, he probably references Rimbaud's Le Bateau Ivre for the first time in 25 years (“I'm on a rollin' river in a jerkin' boat”). A collage of all he had been through, the song travelled many roads before it was fixed in its “final” form. In all of them, though, our narrator finds himself at song's end “at the edge of the lake” – of Galilee? – wondering “what it's gonna take to find dignity”.

After the Dignity vocal overdub session on 11 April 1989, Dylan reworked just two more songs from the sessions – Born In Time and Where Teardrops Fall. And yet, when a rough first sequence for the album was put forward by Dylan (2 May 1989), it featured neither Dignity nor Where Teardrops Fall. The latter made it in the end, but Dignity never did, despite Dylan's chronicling claim that this was a song he would “always be able to remember”.

In fact, when he did resurrect it as a performance piece, specifically for the November 1994 Unplugged shows, he failed to get all the way through without tripping over words. The song's belated restoration to favour seems to have come about because – like Blind Willie McTell – demand for the song had been growing consistently since it leaked into collecting circles, in the early-1990s.

Dylan later complained at a 2001 press conference that “with all of my records, there's an abundance of material left off – stuff that, for a variety of reasons, doesn't make the final cut. And other people seem to think they have some kind of right to it. [Well,] once it gets out, or is recorded by someone else, I'm not keen on going in and re-recording it. It's already been contaminated for me.” So how come he had not taken the opportunity to rework Dignity for Under The Red Sky, with its three other Oh Mercy “rejects”, when it was still safely under wraps?

“Contaminated” or not, a dissatisfaction with the original recording of Dignity continued to needle him, and so when it was suggested that it might be included as a “bonus” track on an ill-conceived third Greatest Hits set, the original multitrack was turned over to Pearl Jam producer Brendan O'Brien, who promptly dispensed with everyone but Dylan, then mixed the singer's piano low enough for us all to gasp in amazement at O'Brien's own unerringly Kooperesque organ work. The results made Alan Douglas's work on Jimi Hendrix's studio tapes sound sympathetic. O'Brien, for his sins, got to reprise his new-found role at the two Unplugged performances in November 1994, when Dylan tried to inject half the life the song formerly had for the benefit of the TV cameras, but with only limited success. Either O'Brien was cramping Dylan's style, or the song was still contaminated.

It was only when Dylan persevered with the song at a handful of shows in March 1995, with just the Never Ending Tour band to bolster it, and not a mobile truck in sight, that he found what he had been looking for all along. On 29 March 1995, at a show in Brixton, London, he delivered the definitive Dignity vocal (after whimsically introducing it as “a new song – well, pretty new, it's only ten years old”). Though he continued to stumble over the intro and outro, it mattered not. Here was the clear proof that his voice was still searching high and low, while JJ Jackson brought four years of on-stage experience to bear, turning the song inside out without ever once getting in an inspired vocalist's way. It was tried once more on the English leg that spring, but Dylan knew he had finally dived in where Prince Philip feared to tread.


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PostPosted: Tue January 24th, 2012, 08:34 GMT 
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MTV Unplugged one is his best live version.


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PostPosted: Wed January 25th, 2012, 00:50 GMT 
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SirDogg wrote:
MTV Unplugged one is his best live version.

I think I'll agree with you twice on that.


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PostPosted: Wed January 25th, 2012, 02:45 GMT 
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Still Go Barefoot wrote:
SirDogg wrote:
MTV Unplugged one is his best live version.

I think I'll agree with you twice on that.
Count me in on this one too.

He did it twice for the MTV Unplugged... I'm still amazed how the other one falls flat on the floor and they were performed on consecutive days.

Its a song that deserves more outings, that's for sure!


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PostPosted: Thu January 26th, 2012, 00:04 GMT 
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This has been a really cool and interesting thread.

Does anyone have a specifc source for the alternate lyrics to Dignity?


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PostPosted: Thu January 26th, 2012, 02:36 GMT 
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dgsvoboda wrote:
This has been a really cool and interesting thread.

Does anyone have a specifc source for the alternate lyrics to Dignity?

Maybe google 'alternate lyrics dignity dylan'?


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PostPosted: Thu January 26th, 2012, 09:15 GMT 
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dgsvoboda wrote:
This has been a really cool and interesting thread.

Does anyone have a specifc source for the alternate lyrics to Dignity?


I can guarantee you it's on this page, which I can't f**in open :evil:
http://homepage.mac.com/danielmartin/Dylan/html/homepage.html


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PostPosted: Thu January 26th, 2012, 09:34 GMT 
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Dignity never been photographed.

Unlike Bob Dylan's trousersnake, eh ladies?


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PostPosted: Fri January 27th, 2012, 23:43 GMT 
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Bennyboy wrote:
Dignity never been photographed.
http://petchary.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/dignity.jpg

Someone tried to though


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PostPosted: Mon January 30th, 2012, 02:54 GMT 
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Still Go Barefoot wrote:
dgsvoboda wrote:
This has been a really cool and interesting thread.

Does anyone have a specific source for the alternate lyrics to Dignity?

Maybe google 'alternate lyrics dignity dylan'?


DOH!

I found the lyrics to alternate Dignity at:

http://dylanchords.info/

duh!


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PostPosted: Wed February 1st, 2012, 01:32 GMT 
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Now what are you gonna do with them?


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PostPosted: Wed February 1st, 2012, 22:07 GMT 
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For starters, I've been perusing them, intently!

What an amazing set of lyric changes. I much prefer some of the early ones!


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PostPosted: Tue September 25th, 2012, 02:50 GMT 
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I wonder if Dylan left it off Oh Mercy in favor of Disease of Conceit.


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PostPosted: Tue September 25th, 2012, 02:52 GMT 

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circus sands wrote:
I wonder if Dylan left it off Oh Mercy in favor of Disease of Conceit.


Tempest = Foot of Pride = the disease of conceit

And I am proud to come out of the closet and declare that I prefer the Greatest Hits remix version. Always have.


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PostPosted: Fri November 2nd, 2012, 09:57 GMT 
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Grand Prairie, TX - November 1, 2012... with Bob on grand piano and his voice in fine form... a very nice performance with a great backing by the band and the potential to be a timeless remembrance of what the Fall 2012 Never Ending Tour has offered. Among my Dylan all-time favorite songs, his one is a precious gift and this performance doesn't disappoint.


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PostPosted: Fri November 2nd, 2012, 10:51 GMT 
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Untrodden Path wrote:
Grand Prairie, TX - November 1, 2012... with Bob on grand piano and his voice in fine form... a very nice performance with a great backing by the band and the potential to be a timeless remembrance of what the Fall 2012 Never Ending Tour has offered. Among my Dylan all-time favorite songs, his one is a precious gift and this performance doesn't disappoint.

And here it is, thanks to Bobby for posting in Live Set thread:

Bobby wrote:


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PostPosted: Fri November 2nd, 2012, 13:08 GMT 
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Still Go Barefoot wrote:
Untrodden Path wrote:
Grand Prairie, TX - November 1, 2012... with Bob on grand piano and his voice in fine form... a very nice performance with a great backing by the band and the potential to be a timeless remembrance of what the Fall 2012 Never Ending Tour has offered. Among my Dylan all-time favorite songs, his one is a precious gift and this performance doesn't disappoint.

And here it is, thanks to Bobby for posting in Live Set thread:

Bobby wrote:


Thanks!! I love Dignity and this is in fine form, barefoot! What does he say at the end? "Something like that" ??

My favorite line in this song is just brilliant

Englishman stranded in the blackheart wind
Combin’ his hair back, his future looks thin


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PostPosted: Fri November 2nd, 2012, 13:30 GMT 
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Gotta love the person right at the beginning, shouting "Everybody wants you to be just like them!" :|


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PostPosted: Fri November 2nd, 2012, 14:57 GMT 
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MTV is the definitive version for me ... this thread has me realizing I've never heard the Greatest Hits version. Is it pretty good? I find the TTS takes incredible.

As the song gets longer and bouncier through the demos, it makes sense to me that it doesn't make the cut for Oh Mercy, but wow, this tune is so great-- I'm glad he kept going with it and got it to a place where he could at least play it live.


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PostPosted: Fri November 2nd, 2012, 16:24 GMT 
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SirDogg wrote:
MTV Unplugged one is his best live version.


29th September 2000. Frankfurt.


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PostPosted: Fri November 2nd, 2012, 18:14 GMT 
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Joined: Tue June 30th, 2009, 05:06 GMT
Posts: 8848
Location: you try to get away...they drag you back
Dignity really was a highlight on this collection.

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Forever embedded with the period in which i first fell in love with dylan. This song was my first real exposure to the Oh Mercy voice.


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