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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 04:00 GMT 
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My so-called friends have fallen under a spell
They look me squarely in the eye and they say, “All is well”
Can they imagine the darkness that will fall from on high
When men will beg God to kill them and they won’t be able to die?


This verse alone from Precious Angel shows how much of a lowering of consciousness Dylan experienced by embracing and espousing such an uncompassionate brand of evangelical Christianity, where nonbelievers suffer unimaginable torturous fates. A far cry from the kid who wrote Chimes of Freedom, who was empathizing with each and every hung up soul in the whole wide universe.
The stain of the ugly fire and brimstone overtones make it hard for this listener to listen to Dylan's gospel period. It's not even that he chose to give himself over to Jesus. It's this particular vision of Jesus that he chose which was unfortunate.


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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 05:17 GMT 

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yopietro wrote:
The stain of the ugly fire and brimstone overtones make it hard for this listener to listen to Dylan's gospel period. It's not even that he chose to give himself over to Jesus. It's this particular vision of Jesus that he chose which was unfortunate.


You raise a fair point, though I find it reductive to dismiss a whole period of singing, song-writing, performing, with all it variation and nuance, because some of it is unpleasant.

I guess I also tend to be able to disconnect myself from the artist (and his presumed beliefs) and the art; I can appreciate Milton's Paradise Lost, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, without necessarily buying wholesale into its version of reality.

On another level, I guess I am able to distance myself from said offending lines as I tend to see them as hyperbole (though I accept others take them more at face value). I always found the lines in "Master's of War"--"even Jesus will never forgive what you do" and "I hope that you die and your death will come soon" etc--make me uncomfortable, and make use of a similar hyperbole.


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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 05:42 GMT 

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yopietro wrote:
My so-called friends have fallen under a spell
They look me squarely in the eye and they say, “All is well”
Can they imagine the darkness that will fall from on high
When men will beg God to kill them and they won’t be able to die?


This verse alone from Precious Angel shows how much of a lowering of consciousness Dylan experienced by embracing and espousing such an uncompassionate brand of evangelical Christianity, where nonbelievers suffer unimaginable torturous fates. A far cry from the kid who wrote Chimes of Freedom, who was empathizing with each and every hung up soul in the whole wide universe.
The stain of the ugly fire and brimstone overtones make it hard for this listener to listen to Dylan's gospel period. It's not even that he chose to give himself over to Jesus. It's this particular vision of Jesus that he chose which was unfortunate.


That's not quite true. The Vineyard was very Hollywood, very celebrity-friendly,
with a huge emphasis on exactly that, mercy and compassion. You don't find this
preoccupation with judgment in the output of other well known proponents of this particular
church such as T Bone Burnett & others. It is however true that Vineyard gave credence
to the notion that scripture in totality is uniformly revelatory and inspired. Dylan started
to read the bible and was particularly stirred by the visionary book of Revelation, which
is where this particular quote is found. (Revelation 9:6) Hal Lindsey, the author of a
popular book about the end times, was associated with Vineyard, and the book of
Revelation was prominently featured in The Late Great Planet Earth.

Dylan certainly gravitated to a rigorous position. Take into account that Dylan came into
Christianity with an inclination towards dramatic hardline stances. Hard Rain,
Masters of War and When The Ship Comes In are just a few examples.

"foes will rise with the sleep still in their eyes
And they'll jerk from their beds and think they're dreamin'
But they'll pinch themselves and squeal
And they'll know that it's for real
And they'll raise their hands sayin'
"We'll meet all your demands"
But we'll shout from the bow "Your days are numbered!"
And like Pharaoh's tribe they'll be drownded in the tide
And like Goliath they'll be conquered!

But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness?
Do you think that it could?
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Till I'm sure that you're dead

Could this emphasis be explained by the freedom movement, the civil rights culture
in general? Not really. You'd have to be looking to find it.
The apocalyptic is simply something that is found in Dylan's poetic vision and temperament
from the start. And we still find it in Pay In Blood, Tin Angel and Early Roman Kings, and
in the video choices for Dusquene Whistle, The Night we Called It a Day, and Beyond Here
Lies Nothing.


Last edited by gerardv on Sat October 28th, 2017, 06:11 GMT, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 05:52 GMT 
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yopietro wrote:
My so-called friends have fallen under a spell
They look me squarely in the eye and they say, “All is well”
Can they imagine the darkness that will fall from on high
When men will beg God to kill them and they won’t be able to die?


This verse alone from Precious Angel shows how much of a lowering of consciousness Dylan experienced by embracing and espousing such an uncompassionate brand of evangelical Christianity, where nonbelievers suffer unimaginable torturous fates. A far cry from the kid who wrote Chimes of Freedom, who was empathizing with each and every hung up soul in the whole wide universe.
The stain of the ugly fire and brimstone overtones make it hard for this listener to listen to Dylan's gospel period. It's not even that he chose to give himself over to Jesus. It's this particular vision of Jesus that he chose which was unfortunate.


ah I was really enjoying the music of the NPR stream now.
You're totally right.
A far cry from Chimes of Freedom where he was sympathizing for every hung up soul in the whole wide universe.
That's one of my two all-time favorite songs by him - that and A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall.

I myself also have trouble with separating the "art from the artist."

Right now I heard Bob sing "how long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?" yet he showed his intolerance in some of the lyrics from this period.
I confess to liking his passionate singing here though... :oops:


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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 10:38 GMT 

Joined: Mon January 9th, 2006, 09:01 GMT
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man in the moon wrote:
Just no.

Dylan had indeed always covered songs of faith and been influenced by both gospel music and the lexicon and literary legacy of the Bible. But he had never, professionally, shown any evidence of personal religious belief.

On the contrary, his most famous work (everything up to Self Portrait) is no less than a manifesto for a hip secular individualism. It delights in challenging orthodoxy, mocking institutions, power elites and unthinking Mr Jones's. The message is simple, both serious and irreverent - Don't follow leaders and watch your parking meters!

Dylan's place in popular culture is, and always will be the "thinking mans" pop star. The one with a Nobel prize. He's lauded as the person who brought intellectual sophistication and moral authority to a genre seen previously as bubblegum. The early breakthrough songs carry such weight they are almost hymns but they are secular hymns.

So just no ...this guy getting religion and talking about rock and rolling down to the pit and surrendering his own highly individualistic views to those of the Vineyard fukcing Fellowship and banging on about gays and preaching fire and brimstone and saying anyone with a different view would burn and buying it hook line and sinker was not the same as singing This Train in Bound for Glory with his mates.


I think you are wrong here. Dylan never had a manifesto as far as I can tell. There are endless interviews where he mocks interviewers for asking him if he has a message. He never had a message. He was demonstrating what happens with a highly intelligent man uses that intelligence in folk and rock music, but there was no manifesto. This is why Dylan remains compelling. Why he was never mocked the way Lennon was, for example.

The fascinating part is that everyone who liked Dylan "thinking for himself" hated it so much when he came to the conclusion that Jesus was his saviour. It is obviously the same man, the same intelligence. He isn't "surrendering his own highly individualistic views", he's still giving his own views its just things have changed. It used to go like that, now it goes like this.

And I have no idea at all whether Dylan was completely sincere or whether he still holds those views, or when they changed again if they did change again.

The great thing about Dylan are that his words seems so personal but we never know him. Intensely personal but never autobiographical.


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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 10:58 GMT 
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Foggy wrote:
yopietro wrote:
The stain of the ugly fire and brimstone overtones make it hard for this listener to listen to Dylan's gospel period. It's not even that he chose to give himself over to Jesus. It's this particular vision of Jesus that he chose which was unfortunate.


You raise a fair point, though I find it reductive to dismiss a whole period of singing, song-writing, performing, with all it variation and nuance, because some of it is unpleasant.

Many songs from this period maintain the social consciousness of earlier songwriting but now with a Christian slant. When You Gonna Wake Up and Gotta Serve Somebody are social commentary about decisions we make and the priorities in our lives. Slow Train Coming levels the playing field that irrespective of who we are or our social status in life, we all make decisions on what we choose to follow or believe. There is an element of protest in these, that many of the cultural values are leading people astray or down avenues that are unfulfilling. His "answer" or solution may be different than what we choose but that does not change the underlying problem of the skewed cultural values.

RichardW wrote:
The fascinating part is that everyone who liked Dylan "thinking for himself" hated it so much when he came to the conclusion that Jesus was his saviour. It is obviously the same man, the same intelligence. He isn't "surrendering his own highly individualistic views", he's still giving his own views its just things have changed. It used to go like that, now it goes like this.

And I have no idea at all whether Dylan was completely sincere or whether he still holds those views, or when they changed again if they did change again.

The great thing about Dylan are that his words seems so personal but we never know him. Intensely personal but never autobiographical.
To me, this appears to be spot on.


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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 12:22 GMT 
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yopietro wrote:
My so-called friends have fallen under a spell
They look me squarely in the eye and they say, “All is well”
Can they imagine the darkness that will fall from on high
When men will beg God to kill them and they won’t be able to die?


This verse alone from Precious Angel shows how much of a lowering of consciousness Dylan experienced by embracing and espousing such an uncompassionate brand of evangelical Christianity, where nonbelievers suffer unimaginable torturous fates. A far cry from the kid who wrote Chimes of Freedom, who was empathizing with each and every hung up soul in the whole wide universe.
The stain of the ugly fire and brimstone overtones make it hard for this listener to listen to Dylan's gospel period. It's not even that he chose to give himself over to Jesus. It's this particular vision of Jesus that he chose which was unfortunate.


Exactly this.


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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 13:15 GMT 

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I'm so glad I'll be able to enjoy this release thanks to my lowered consciousness.


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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 13:29 GMT 
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yopietro wrote:
It's not even that he chose to give himself over to Jesus. It's this particular vision of Jesus that he chose which was unfortunate.


Hmmm, unfortunate? Not really. Let’s flip it around.
Perhaps it was actually fortunate, since what came out of it was so heartfelt and moving.

Bob’s creativity and passion surrounding this, with an excellent set of musicians & backup singers gave this listener a little more perspective and education on Christianity, as a side bonus.

Didn’t really have much exposure to religion at the time, beyond a foundation consisting of the original Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera release with Deep Purple’s lead singer, prior to that.

Thanks Bob!
I appreciated what you were doing immediately due to the energy exuded!
And glad you kept moving on to other things too!

Happy for this Trouble No More release!


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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 13:51 GMT 
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My problem with the Jesus trip is that the proponents tell you the it is the ONLY answer and if you're not on board, you're doomed. I don't buy that. I find the eastern religions just as, or even more relevant. I treat them all as a kind of a buffet - taking what I like from each - a much better, more filling meal. My only question? Is it sit down or stand up?

Those that claim Bob had biblical leanings from day one are correct, there are references all along the trail. At the same time, those that claim he has adamantly denied having the answer on pretty much anything are correct too.


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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 16:29 GMT 
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Although the fundamentalism of Bob's message in 79/80 is abhorrent and a temporary takeover of his inner moral compass the era is not without artistic merit and is easy to understand biographically.

It is textbook addiction 12 step recovery behaviour. Our hero was recently divorced, burnt out on the trail and on record as looking for something new to get him through the show - looking for redemption, for salvation. In this context both his surrender to a higher power and the vehemence of this new proclamation are understandable. Maybe the choice of such a vengeful strain of Christianity was a way of paying a kind of personal penance for past sins? A self punishment and rejection of what had gone before.

Only a personal crisis of this magnitude can account for such a lapse in critical faculties. Mercifully it was not to last and, crisis averted, the real Bob Dylan soon returned once again exploring both light and shade in masterpieces like Caribbean Wind and Every Grain of Sand.

(Not a wholly serious post but surrender is a key tenant of many recovery methodologies and Bob was in bad shape back there)


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PostPosted: Sat October 28th, 2017, 21:08 GMT 

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Good songs great singing great band..message true then and true today..what’s not to like..
Not sure Bob would still be with us without his conversion..so for that I hope everyone grateful..and produced perhaps his greatest song Every Grain of Sand..


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PostPosted: Sun October 29th, 2017, 11:14 GMT 

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Is there any reliable explanation why he went nuts then?
Alias "What really happened?".
Or was that only one performance among the others?


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PostPosted: Sun October 29th, 2017, 11:53 GMT 
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The dark apocalyptic stuff of Slow Train Coming is like listening to any other great artist go through a very dark period. It's clear somethings gone horribly wrong and his outlook on the world is judgemental and fatalistic. I don't agree with it but I find it compelling.

I think by the time Saved rolls around he's actually found the deliverance he was seeking and it's your usual joyous gospel approach to Christianity which is less interesting but more palatable.


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PostPosted: Sun October 29th, 2017, 12:20 GMT 

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boiledgutsofbirds wrote:
The dark apocalyptic stuff of Slow Train Coming is like listening to any other great artist go through a very dark period. It's clear somethings gone horribly wrong and his outlook on the world is judgemental and fatalistic. I don't agree with it but I find it compelling.

I think by the time Saved rolls around he's actually found the deliverance he was seeking and it's your usual joyous gospel approach to Christianity which is less interesting but more palatable.


That sums it up well. One must take Dylan's character into account. Going back through his career, long before the Gospel era, Justice was a common major theme in his songs, even extending well into the seventies with the likes of Hurricane. Dylan's hunger for Justice could be quite visceral, for example with Masters of War. It seems to me that Slow Train features a Dylan who has now embraced the Justice of the Divine, without it yet having sunk in that Mercy is the constant, necessary and equally indispensible companion to this quality. I think he has begun to realise this with the more, mellow and devotional songs of Saved, which being less controversial and confrontational may seem less 'interesting'. This realisation, as you say, was the 'deliverance he was seeking' and has been reflected in his more nuanced subsequent work. He has kept the balance fairly well, not making the alternative mistake of tilting the balance excessively toward the Mercy side either. Songs like Something's Burning Baby and Someday Baby make that clear.


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PostPosted: Sun October 29th, 2017, 14:59 GMT 
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Agree largely with the last few posts. He did quickly evolve his position to something less vengeful and more merciful / palatable and has indeed always expressed a strong sense of justice (although there is a difference between quite visceral and stone cold bonkers). The first flush of fire and brimstone was certainly compelling to observe but was also senseless, horrific and needlessly cruel.

I hope Bob has since atoned for these sins and acknowledges his complicity in spreading hatred and intolerance. I suppose it's therefore understandable why the most offensive rants and album covers have been airbrushed out in subsequent releases.


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PostPosted: Mon October 30th, 2017, 09:25 GMT 

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Hmmmm......

A few posts back someone said there was a difference between the Dylan who wrote "Chimes of Freedom" and the Dylan who wrote the songs on Slow Train Coming. Yes there is.

There's a great deal in common between the Dylan who wrote "Positively Fourth Street" or "Like a Rolling Stone" and the Dylan who wrote the songs on Slow Train Coming.

At every period Dylan has been capable of vitriol - isn't it part of what we all like about him, that he can cover every shade? Are we only to like the songs when Dylan shows compassion for others?


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PostPosted: Mon October 30th, 2017, 09:53 GMT 
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First heard the Slow Train Coming album as a child, and although I never understood the lyrical content, but I always thought it just really SOUNDED really cool, and as a child I always thought Man Gave Names To All The Animals was one of the best songs I had ever heard, and I still enjoy the song as an adult!


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PostPosted: Mon October 30th, 2017, 10:51 GMT 

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RichardW wrote:
Hmmmm......

A few posts back someone said there was a difference between the Dylan who wrote "Chimes of Freedom" and the Dylan who wrote the songs on Slow Train Coming. Yes there is.

There's a great deal in common between the Dylan who wrote "Positively Fourth Street" or "Like a Rolling Stone" and the Dylan who wrote the songs on Slow Train Coming.

At every period Dylan has been capable of vitriol - isn't it part of what we all like about him, that he can cover every shade? Are we only to like the songs when Dylan shows compassion for others?

I think this comes close to the issue. With Dylan's christian material, the verdict is
spoken over all of us, which is in part why you see such an visceral reaction to the
message. It's easy to smile when vitriol is directed to the 'other', be they Mr Jones,
or Maggie and the family, especially with the added humour and sarcasm in those
songs. That's one element that's largely missing from the christian stuff.


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PostPosted: Mon October 30th, 2017, 11:39 GMT 
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gerardv wrote:
RichardW wrote:
...vitriol - isn't it part of what we all like about him...

... It's easy to smile when vitriol is directed to the 'other', be they Mr Jones,
or Maggie and the family, especially with the added humour and sarcasm in those
songs. That's one element that's largely missing from the christian stuff.


The vitriol instead takes on a biblical intensity.
Kinda like, this is the way it is and will be, good luck. Repent now suckah.

The humor & sarcasm still sneaks through occasionally.
In Slow Train Coming, for instance:
“You can call me R.J. and you can call me Ray” was echoed from a popular stand-up routine, circa mid/late 70’s.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qoYsfbq3vMc


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PostPosted: Mon October 30th, 2017, 13:14 GMT 

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Biblical level vitriol is really rather awesome; especially in live shows. Dylan is at his best when he's really cheesed off. One of the things shows from 1966, and shows from 1979 and 1980 have in common.


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PostPosted: Mon October 30th, 2017, 13:50 GMT 
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Still Go Barefoot wrote:
... The humor & sarcasm still sneaks through occasionally.
In Slow Train Coming, for instance:
“You can call me R.J. and you can call me Ray” was echoed from a popular stand-up routine, circa mid/late 70’s.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qoYsfbq3vMc

:o great stuff, I never knew that there was something behind this line, and I have been listening to it since 1979


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PostPosted: Mon October 30th, 2017, 15:31 GMT 
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RichardW wrote:
Biblical level vitriol is really rather awesome; especially in live shows. Dylan is at his best when he's really cheesed off. One of the things shows from 1966, and shows from 1979 and 1980 have in common.


Good point. It has been said that "nobody does bleak like Dylan", and the same goes for vitriol.


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PostPosted: Mon October 30th, 2017, 15:47 GMT 

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Still Go Barefoot wrote:
The humor & sarcasm still sneaks through occasionally.
In Slow Train Coming, for instance:
“You can call me R.J. and you can call me Ray” was echoed from a popular stand-up routine, circa mid/late 70’s.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qoYsfbq3vMc

:) A mystery solved> Had never seen that one. Tnx for posting barefoot


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PostPosted: Mon October 30th, 2017, 18:38 GMT 
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gerardv wrote:
RichardW wrote:
Hmmmm......

A few posts back someone said there was a difference between the Dylan who wrote "Chimes of Freedom" and the Dylan who wrote the songs on Slow Train Coming. Yes there is.

There's a great deal in common between the Dylan who wrote "Positively Fourth Street" or "Like a Rolling Stone" and the Dylan who wrote the songs on Slow Train Coming.

At every period Dylan has been capable of vitriol - isn't it part of what we all like about him, that he can cover every shade? Are we only to like the songs when Dylan shows compassion for others?

I think this comes close to the issue. With Dylan's christian material, the verdict is
spoken over all of us, which is in part why you see such an visceral reaction to the
message. It's easy to smile when vitriol is directed to the 'other', be they Mr Jones,
or Maggie and the family, especially with the added humour and sarcasm in those
songs. That's one element that's largely missing from the christian stuff.


'65 Dylan would have barfed in his hat if he had seen his '79 bible-thumping version. And as Gerard alludes to, the gospel vitriol is not directed at people who let him down in his life, nor at clueless journalists, nor at military industrial complex titans. This time, it's directed at the billions of people of other faiths and non-faiths around the world who don't accept the dogma that he has embraced. In his worldview of the time, damnation was the rightful punishment for not believing.
Dylan's "extremes" are one of the elements that certainly make him fascinating as an artist. (We all love to see Dylan burning bright and at times invariably flaming out at his edges). And no doubt there is something compelling to this gospel fire and brimstone incarnation. But the message here is unfortunate. I suppose if he wanted to stop being looked up to as a guiding light for his generation, becoming a fundamentalist Christian was about as good as a way as any to get people off his backs.


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