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 Post subject: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 01:45 GMT 
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Walt Whitman in "Song Of Myself" once famously said,
Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself.
I am large, I contain multitudes.
Actually I'm quite thin, and there's no one else inside me, certainly not a huge number.
Also, I never contradict myself.

Dylan, like many a quicksilver genius of mercurial temperament and protean generative disposition, is of a contradictory and inconsistent nature. On Tour 78 he liked to say, "I'm a poet first and a musician second", but only as much as he liked to say during the same tour "I'm a musician first and a poet second". In both cases we know what he means, and he's right both times. When he did that advert for Victoria's Secret, was he contradicting his prior disdain for commercials (see Biograph notes) or simply keeping in line with his expressed intent in the sixties to sell ladies' undergarments? Who knows - but he got paid loads to hang around some skimpily dressed models, and that's consistent with not being completely stupid.
On Planet Waves he goes from Dirge (I hate myself for loving you, but I should get over that) to Wedding Song (And if there is eternity I'll love you there again), and even if you think, like Trev does, that Dirge is actually addressed to his audience, it's still a calculated lyrical contrast. On Biograph, as Paul Williams points out, it's great sequencing that a plea for courtroom leniency, Percy's Song, follows straight on from an equally impassioned song expressing disgust at courtroom leniency, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll.
Now, Dylan isn't the narrator in all of his songs (except he is), but I recently heard the Budokan Twist Of Fate - she should have caught me in my prime, she would have stayed with me - and straight away I thought of Spirit On The Water - you think I'm past my prime - let me see what ya got - we could have a whopping good time. The contrast pleased me. I thought it was nice that the older man was the one unbowed by love.
It's an unusually rich and varied catalogue of songs, and just as some songs seem to be sisters, so some will contradict each other. I'm sure that just like Trev you enjoy establishing dialectics between songs. It's nice to compare and contrast, so feel free to do just that!


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 01:49 GMT 
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I support this thread earnestly, but I feel chagrined that I didn't think of it first !

oh wait, it's dylan that needs to be contradictory....let me get to my notes.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 01:52 GMT 
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Trev wrote:
Walt Whitman in "Song Of Myself" once famously said,
Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself.
I am large, I contain multitudes.
Actually I'm quite thin, and there's no one else inside me, certainly not a huge number.
Also, I never contradict myself.

Dylan, like many a quicksilver genius of mercurial temperament and protean generative disposition, is of a contradictory and inconsistent nature. On Tour 78 he liked to say, "I'm a poet first and a musician second", but only as much as he liked to say during the same tour "I'm a musician first and a poet second". In both cases we know what he means, and he's right both times. When he did that advert for Victoria's Secret, was he contradicting his prior disdain for commercials (see Biograph notes) or simply keeping in line with his expressed intent in the sixties to sell ladies' undergarments? Who knows - but he got paid loads to hang around some skimpily dressed models, and that's consistent with not being completely stupid.
On Planet Waves he goes from Dirge (I hate myself for loving you, but I should get over that) to Wedding Song (And if there is eternity I'll love you there again), and even if you think, like Trev does, that Dirge is actually addressed to his audience, it's still a calculated lyrical contrast. On Biograph, as Paul Williams points out, it's great sequencing that a plea for courtroom leniency, Percy's Song, follows straight on from an equally impassioned song expressing disgust at courtroom leniency, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll.
Now, Dylan isn't the narrator in all of his songs (except he is), but I recently heard the Budokan Twist Of Fate - she should have caught me in my prime, she would have stayed with me - and straight away I thought of Spirit On The Water - you think I'm past my prime - let me see what ya got - we could have a whopping good time. The contrast pleased me. I thought it was nice that the older man was the one unbowed by love.
It's an unusually rich and varied catalogue of songs, and just as some songs seem to be sisters, so some will contradict each other. I'm sure that just like Trev you enjoy establishing dialectics between songs. It's nice to compare and contrast, so feel free to do just that!



when bob put out biograph there were no free downloads. that free can give a shock to the system. give you new eyes.
as for dirge and wedding song, people assume they are about the same person but they may not be. in fact he may have done one and then said ooops let me hurry and record that other one.


Last edited by goombay on Wed June 13th, 2012, 01:54 GMT, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 01:52 GMT 
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LARS--When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
Tryin' to Get to Heaven--When you think that you've lost everything. You find out you can always lose a little more


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 02:00 GMT 
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"When you aint got nothing, you got nothing to lose"
"When you think that you lost everything/You find out you can always lose a little more"

Trev wrote:
When he did that advert for Victoria's Secret, was he contradicting his prior disdain for commercials (see Biograph notes) or simply keeping in line with his expressed intent in the sixties to sell ladies' undergarments?


If you go and listen to that interview you'll find that "undergarments" was not the word that he used.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 02:13 GMT 
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Giada wrote:
LARS--When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
Tryin' to Get to Heaven--When you think that you've lost everything. You find out you can always lose a little more


you'll find out when you reach the top you're on the bottom.


scottw wrote:
Trev wrote:
When he did that advert for Victoria's Secret, was he contradicting his prior disdain for commercials (see Biograph notes) or simply keeping in line with his expressed intent in the sixties to sell ladies' undergarments?


If you go and listen to that interview you'll find that "undergarments" was not the word that he used.


scottw why dont you just go ahead and tell us what he said? i couldn't be arsed to sit through a whole interview just to find one word to be honest with you.


Last edited by crimson flames on Wed June 13th, 2012, 02:19 GMT, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 02:18 GMT 

Joined: Tue February 17th, 2009, 02:57 GMT
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"I'll leave this world with a satisfied mind."

"I close my eyes and I wonder, if everything is as hollow as it seems."


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 02:28 GMT 
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I'm sort of jealous of anyone who sees the VS commercial only as a simple commercial exploit. Sometimes I get nostalgic...


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 02:43 GMT 
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crimson flames wrote:
scottw why dont you just go ahead and tell us what he said? i couldn't be arsed to sit through a whole interview just to find one word to be honest with you.


http://youtu.be/eBq7SyGtG8Y


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 03:16 GMT 
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...or Google, for the adventurous.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 03:32 GMT 
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Well, he said garments not undergarments, but as we all sit in our peephole bras we can at least be content that undergarments are nonetheless garments, so he was still fulfilling his long held dream!


crimson flames wrote:
Giada wrote:
LARS--When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
Tryin' to Get to Heaven--When you think that you've lost everything. You find out you can always lose a little more


you'll find out when you reach the top you're on the bottom.




Love Minus Zero/No Limit has a few good ones like this - here's Clinton Heylin :

Dylan begins to speak in irreconcilable opposites – she “speaks like silence”, all the while managing to be “like ice” and “like fire”. Most memorably of all, “She knows there's no success like failure / And that failure's no success at all”. John Keats, a poet Dylan grew to greatly admire, had a term for such mental balancing acts – “negative capability” – a notion he defined as “when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubt – without any irritable reaching after fact & reason”.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 04:35 GMT 
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Love this thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 05:51 GMT 
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Without freedom of speech, I might be in the swamp.

Where men bathed in perfume and practiced the hoax of free speech.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 06:08 GMT 
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Location: you try to get away...they drag you back
In the Summertime
Then came the warnin’ that was before the flood
That set everybody free

High Water
High water risin’—risin’ night and day
All the gold and silver are bein' stolen away

...It’s tough out there
High water everywhere


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 08:54 GMT 

Joined: Thu May 26th, 2011, 11:44 GMT
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There are many different view points in his songs, but that's to be expected when he's playing so many different characters. He's making art by telling tales, not writing a diary on his day.

Further to that you get a song like Mississippi where the character is changing his mind during the song. At one moment he seems to have given up and then he has a last burst of optimism that contradicts much of what he's just said, before he's sunk by a giant wave of despair at the very end! It may seem contradictory, but actually we've all had days like that.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 09:47 GMT 
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As I said, we know that Dylan isn't the narrator in all his songs (except he is) - we're not holding him to account, so much as celebrating the variety of his songs. Mississippi is a great example of a song where he suddenly seems to change his mind to exhilarating effect at the end - Love Minus Zero is another, and Idiot Wind may yet be another. Even With God On Our Side. In all those examples the conclusion (or near conclusion) of them comes as something of a surprise. One of the most famous examples of his contradicting himself in the course of a song is Just Like A Woman, which opens with a pretty bold declaration (Nobody feels any pain) that is then very explicity, doubly refuted (what hurts is this pain) - but as that opening is broadly ironic, I think the song feels consistent.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Wed June 13th, 2012, 10:25 GMT 

Joined: Thu May 26th, 2011, 11:44 GMT
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Trev wrote:
As I said, we know that Dylan isn't the narrator in all his songs (except he is) - we're not holding him to account, so much as celebrating the variety of his songs. Mississippi is a great example of a song where he suddenly seems to change his mind to exhilarating effect at the end - Love Minus Zero is another, and Idiot Wind may yet be another. Even With God On Our Side. In all those examples the conclusion (or near conclusion) of them comes as something of a surprise. One of the most famous examples of his contradicting himself in the course of a song is Just Like A Woman, which opens with a pretty bold declaration (Nobody feels any pain) that is then very explicity, doubly refuted (what hurts is this pain) - but as that opening is broadly ironic, I think the song feels consistent.


Too true, and I'm all for celebrating the contradictions. He's a master of turning a song on its head just when you think you know where its going.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 14th, 2012, 02:30 GMT 
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Love is all there is, it makes the world go 'round



Well, life is for love, and they say that love is blind.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 14th, 2012, 03:01 GMT 
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"Henry Porter"

"His name wasn't Henry Porter"


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 14th, 2012, 03:20 GMT 
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:lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 14th, 2012, 04:32 GMT 
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JupiterAndApollo wrote:
"Henry Porter"

"His name wasn't Henry Porter"

It's very strong.

Troubadour64 wrote:
Love is all there is, it makes the world go 'round



Well, life is for love, and they say that love is blind.

Yeah, love :
And I do not really need to be assured that love is just a four letter word .... Love is pleasing, love is teasing, love's not an evil thing

I'm sick of love ... I'm singing love's praises

Time passes slowly when you’re searchin’ for love ... But to search for love, that ain't no more than vanity


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 14th, 2012, 16:05 GMT 
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Just read 'Essential Interviews' Sorry I don't have it in front of me to quote specific examples but he contradicts himself CONSTANTLY!! But I really don't think he does it in any kind of deceitful way. I think it's just the way his mind works. But it's sometimes hard to follow. For him too I think. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Thu June 14th, 2012, 16:37 GMT 
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jimb727 wrote:
Just read 'Essential Interviews' Sorry I don't have it in front of me to quote specific examples but he contradicts himself CONSTANTLY!! But I really don't think he does it in any kind of deceitful way. I think it's just the way his mind works. But it's sometimes hard to follow. For him too I think. :lol:


It's those Gemini twins inside him, at work, methinks.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Fri June 15th, 2012, 08:56 GMT 
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In a relatively recent interview (past few years) he say's something along the lines of being sad to see young people walking around with i pods in their ears tuned out from the real world. Then we see him in the apple commercial with a woman dancing to Rollin' and tumblin' in front of Bob with ear phones in. I love everything Bob does and has done but this has always stuck with me for some reason. But i wont loose sleep over it.


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 Post subject: Re: Contradictory Dylan
PostPosted: Fri June 15th, 2012, 19:19 GMT 

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Trev wrote:
On Planet Waves he goes from Dirge (I hate myself for loving you, but I should get over that) to Wedding Song (And if there is eternity I'll love you there again), and even if you think, like Trev does, that Dirge is actually addressed to his audience, it's still a calculated lyrical contrast. On Biograph, as Paul Williams points out, it's great sequencing that a plea for courtroom leniency, Percy's Song, follows straight on from an equally impassioned song expressing disgust at courtroom leniency, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll.

I agree that Dylan's lyrics are full of contradictory language - I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now - but I don't consider these two examples to be contradictory. Dirge is plainly not about the subject of Wedding Song (I think it's addressed to his earlier, amphetamine years and the accompanying lifestyle) but by declaring his love for the subject of Wedding Song he is reinforcing what he declared in Dirge (sort of rubbing its nose in it). As for courtroom leniency, surely he is pleading for justice in both cases? It seems entirely in order to me that he should put those two together.

Sorry, just an observation.


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