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PostPosted: Thu September 3rd, 2009, 03:19 GMT 
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There is a nice version from the danish jazz group String Swing:
(Thanks to charlesdarwin to pointing out)


http://www.stringswing.dk/

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PostPosted: Thu September 3rd, 2009, 09:52 GMT 

Joined: Mon June 15th, 2009, 02:35 GMT
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marker wrote:
However, I do think there is a good deal of paranoia that runs throughout the song that reinforces your Job comparison, but also paints him as 'Job as schizophrenic'. Some examples:
The description of the woman on his lap alludes to it to a degree.
"Got white skin, got assassin's eyes"
That description of the woman for me justifies the singer's xenophobic tendencies. What does her white skin mean? And her assassin's eyes gives to the idea that she (or any woman) is NOT to be trusted.

I read that verse as him in some sort of seedy night club, which functions in the song as an image of the - fallen - world. She's so white because she's so made-up, but her eyes betray what she is. The singer is world weary by now and is just waiting for his last train out, with dignity, too, being so well dressed and polite to the gentlemen as he passes.

The world hasn't changed, you say, only his care for it. Well, yes, exactly. A young man thinks the times are a-changing and things will get better. An older man knows nothing really changes. Detached, yes, and seeing this unchanging world as it really is - a seedy night club of a place where nothing properly satisfies. But he knows where there really is a better place, but it's not here on this earth. Soon, though, he'll be there.

I see a similar sentiment in When the Deal Goes Down, where he plucks a rose (= romance, sex) and feels transient joys, but "I know they're not what they seem". This song is much closer to the place where the last train goes, and the mood is more assured of redeption as well as much kinder to this profane world, but the themes seem much the same as in Things Have Changed.

I'm not sure I understand the Mr Jinx and Miss Lucy jumping in the lake reference either. I guess he's saying such things are foolish. Romance is not really something to die for. Life's worth more than that.

Otherwise I agree about the sense of dislocation; it gives an interesting prespective on the song. He doesn't feel much for this fallen world. Has he been betrayed? Of course, we all have, but the singer knows we have to endure in order to reach our appointed end ("Trying to get to heaven before they close the door")


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PostPosted: Thu September 3rd, 2009, 14:16 GMT 

Joined: Tue March 31st, 2009, 22:29 GMT
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The writing about this song has been awesome on this thread.

One thing I have noticed about that first line that we've been discussing, and this is maybe a misreading on my part... here's the first verse:

A worried man with a worried mind
No one in front of me and nothing behind
There's a woman on my lap and she's drinking champagne
Got white skin, got assassin's eyes
I'm looking up into the sapphire tinted skies
I'm well dressed, waiting on the last train

We all seem to agree that the first two lines (because of the "me" in the second line) is referencing the narrator. "(I am) a worried man with a worried mind" is how it could be read. Then we have the third verse, describing a woman on "my lap," then in the song there is a brief break (or at least more of a break between lines 3 and 4 than between 1 and 2 and 2 and 3), and then we get to "Got white skin, got assassin's eyes / I'm looking up into the sapphire tinted skies." My instinct has always been to hear that as

(I) Got white skin, (I) got assassins eyes
I'm looking up into the sapphire tinted skies

I think I hear it that was because "I" is the assumed subject of the lines in this verse except where clearly noted (and really even in line 3, isn't the subject still the narrator?), and also the "assassin's eyes" seems to relate directly to "I'm looking up..."

While I do understand the logic of the woman having white skin and assassins eyes (I've known those women), I think it might be more logical for the narrator to have them.. it would go along with someone who is distanced from his own feelings and really doesn't care anymore (always looking through the world through squinty eyes, objectifying it).

Additionally, because lines 4 and 5 end rhyme (eyes/skies) they seem more connected and would seem to have the same subject therefore. To read it as

(She's) Got white skin, (she's) got assassins eyes
I'm looking up into the sapphire tinted skies

doesn't make as much sense to my ears.

Am I entirely on my own in this reading?

-Andrew


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PostPosted: Thu September 3rd, 2009, 15:56 GMT 

Joined: Sun July 8th, 2007, 01:52 GMT
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To Andrew,

"Things have changed" is maybe the Dylan song that I love the most. I wasn't a huge Dylan fan before, but ever since I heard it, I started collecting his albums and listening to his songs quite seriously.

On your assumption that it's him (the narrator) who's got "white skin" and "assassin's eyes", I completely agree. Obviously the narrator-character is constructed somewhat in reaction to the narrator in the movie (Grady Tripp). Dylan has seen the film before writing the song and also decided to act as a Grady-alter-ego in the clip for the song.
However. I wanted to say something else. I always felt like the song was not so much a product of post "Time Out Of Mind" than in some way more related to the mood of "Oh Mercy". Maybe because "Shooting Star" is on the soundtrack, too (as well as "Buckets of rain" from "Blood On Tracks"). However, on "Oh Mercy" you have another track who reflects that dostojevskian kind of self-perception of one who thinks he's "Got white skin, got assassin's eyes"; Someone who isn't really a killer but might look a bit pale, because the "Disease Of Conceit" keeps him up at night. What strikes me about that song is the sort of ridiculousness of that desease, but it's deeply human dimension in the ending (and, as I said, it includes the "evil eye"):

"There's a whole lot of people in trouble tonight from the disease of conceit
Whole lot of people seeing double tonight from the disease of conceit
Give you delusions of grandeur and evil eye
Give you the idea that you're too good to die"


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PostPosted: Thu September 3rd, 2009, 16:24 GMT 

Joined: Mon June 15th, 2009, 02:35 GMT
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The narrator has the assasin's eyes? You know something? I think you're right! I've been listening to the verse and it definitely seems to say "I've white skin and assassin's eyes". Well, that's an interesting new twist.

The opening line reminds me of the Guthrie song, "It takes a worried man to sing a worried song / I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long [because I'm about to die]". There's a kind of salvation in Guthrie's song, and there is in this, too.


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PostPosted: Thu September 3rd, 2009, 16:41 GMT 

Joined: Mon July 6th, 2009, 21:29 GMT
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Holy cripe, you guys are going overboard.

I mean, you're doing nice work and all, but... Things Have Changed?

If Bob put half of the thought into writing this lyric as you folks are putting into its analysis, maybe it would be worth the effort.


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PostPosted: Thu September 3rd, 2009, 16:56 GMT 
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Pixie & Dixie and Mr. Jinks is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that featured as a regular segment of the television series The Huckleberry Hound Show from 1958 to 1962.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixie_and_ ... _Mr._Jinks)
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMFo3h56wgw)

I think it's a great lyric, a mansion with many rooms, as they say, and as all the "overboard" analysis attests.


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PostPosted: Thu September 3rd, 2009, 17:41 GMT 

Joined: Tue March 31st, 2009, 22:29 GMT
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CShoe wrote:
If Bob put half of the thought into writing this lyric as you folks are putting into its analysis, maybe it would be worth the effort.



It may be entirely true that we've spent more time talking than he's spent writing, and it's certainly true that we've spent more words on it than the song is long, but I think that's the nature of good and great art: The artist does what comes naturally, obviously, instinctually, and we, the readers/listener, have to figure out what it is and what it does. We should not confuse ease-of-creation and effortlessness with bad work. A great artist is a channel for things outside of him, and often times the act of criticism is a struggle to reveal just how simple simplicity really is (and that, can be complicated). Often the better it is, the simpler it seems, the harder it is to discuss it, the more words you need...


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PostPosted: Thu September 3rd, 2009, 17:58 GMT 

Joined: Wed September 20th, 2006, 20:22 GMT
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Here's a You Tube of the music video from the movie:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awu5l34FW10


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PostPosted: Thu September 3rd, 2009, 18:19 GMT 

Joined: Wed September 20th, 2006, 20:22 GMT
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And let's not forget Cardiff 2000:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Cob_DOqUfA

another great one.


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 13:17 GMT 

Joined: Mon June 15th, 2009, 02:35 GMT
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CShoe wrote:
If Bob put half of the thought into writing this lyric as you folks are putting into its analysis, maybe it would be worth the effort.

I used to belong to a writers' group. We read each other's stuff and then talked about it. A useful measure of how "good" the stuff was was how long we spent talking about it, and how heated the discussion got. If a song like Things Have Changed can generate so many reactions and so many emotional interpretations it must be good - whatever it "really" means (and, of course, it doesn't "really" mean anything. It's a text inside a song. What you hear is what it is).


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 13:32 GMT 

Joined: Mon July 6th, 2009, 21:29 GMT
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AndrewThomas wrote:
We should not confuse ease-of-creation and effortlessness with bad work.


How, exactly, could we know how easy it was for Bob to write this song? Or how "instinctual" its creation was?

Quote:
Often the better it is, the simpler it seems, the harder it is to discuss it, the more words you need...


So what do you think of Wiggle Wiggle?

theunwavedhand wrote:
If a song like Things Have Changed can generate so many reactions and so many emotional interpretations it must be good


Or could it be that it is a crappy, arbitrary song produced by a guy whose lyrics have historically attracted a lot of pseudo-scholarly analysis, so much so that even his crappy, generic songs sooner or later receive that treatment?


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 14:01 GMT 

Joined: Tue March 31st, 2009, 22:29 GMT
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CShoe wrote:
AndrewThomas wrote:
We should not confuse ease-of-creation and effortlessness with bad work.


How, exactly, could we know how easy it was for Bob to write this song? Or how "instinctual" its creation was?

Quote:
Often the better it is, the simpler it seems, the harder it is to discuss it, the more words you need...


So what do you think of Wiggle Wiggle?

theunwavedhand wrote:
If a song like Things Have Changed can generate so many reactions and so many emotional interpretations it must be good


Or could it be that it is a crappy, arbitrary song produced by a guy whose lyrics have historically attracted a lot of pseudo-scholarly analysis, so much so that even his crappy, generic songs sooner or later receive that treatment?


Have you heard Wiggle Wiggle? There is nothing instinctual or effortless about it. It is forced, if anything.

And by effortlessness I was describing a quality of the work. Some works of art in their simplicity and ease, seem effortless and natural (Mozart symphonies, Bernini sculptures). I wasn't pretending to know anything about Dylan's songwriting habits.

EDIT: I should clarify a bit more what I mean so as not to be understood. Some works of art seem to be highly cohesive and internally consistent. They seem to come from a unified, identifiable, relatable place; the content of the work seems to match (or even be inseparable from) the style; the elements seem to be of one piece (not cobbled together, disparate ideas being unnaturally welded to form a whole).

Some songs do this, and these songs, because they are well built objects tend to offer themselves up to a whole lot of discussion and they tend to offer many, many different valid perspectives. A good work of art is prismatic, every direction you look into it yields up new things, and everyone's perspective (as long as their perspective can be understood by reference to the song) will be valid and interesting.

2nd EDIT: The notion that this song isn't any good but that we are just bloviating doesn't really hold water because of the fact that we are enjoying the conversation and engaging each other. Whether or not you think the song is any good is entirely your issue. If you don't find it a good song than of course you wouldn't find this discussion of it all that interesting, but if other people are enjoying the conversation (being enlightened by it, going through that wonderful experience of realizing how other people feel and think) than how can you deny that? What drawback is there?


Last edited by AndrewThomas on Fri September 4th, 2009, 14:20 GMT, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 14:16 GMT 

Joined: Thu April 9th, 2009, 11:10 GMT
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"Or could it be that it is a crappy, arbitrary song produced by a guy whose lyrics have historically attracted a lot of pseudo-scholarly analysis, so much so that even his crappy, generic songs sooner or later receive that treatment?"[/quote]

You think this song is crappy? I am surprised. It is extremely well crafted, the melody is interesting, and it contains thought provoking lyrics - if they are not explicit enough for you in an expressive sense, does that = "arbitrary" and "crappy"?

if so you're missing out on a whole lot of nuance.


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 14:31 GMT 

Joined: Mon July 6th, 2009, 21:29 GMT
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AndrewThomas wrote:
And by effortlessness I was describing a quality of the work. Some works of art in their simplicity and ease, seem effortless and natural (Mozart symphonies, Bernini sculptures). I wasn't pretending to know anything about Dylan's songwriting habits.


I didn't say anything about the word "effortless." You said, ease-of-creation, and that is the idea I questioned. I also questioned how you were able to determine how instinctual the creation of this song was.

Quote:
Have you heard Wiggle Wiggle? There is nothing instinctual or effortless about it. It is forced, if anything.


These terms (as far as you are using them) are clearly arbitrary servants to your sense of aesthetics.

Seriously, delve into the simplicity of Wiggle Wiggle and blow our minds.

Go for it.


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 14:39 GMT 

Joined: Tue March 31st, 2009, 22:29 GMT
Posts: 137
CShoe wrote:
AndrewThomas wrote:
And by effortlessness I was describing a quality of the work. Some works of art in their simplicity and ease, seem effortless and natural (Mozart symphonies, Bernini sculptures). I wasn't pretending to know anything about Dylan's songwriting habits.


I didn't say anything about the word "effortless." You said, ease-of-creation, and that is the idea I questioned. I also questioned how you were able to determine how instinctual the creation of this song was.

Quote:
Have you heard Wiggle Wiggle? There is nothing instinctual or effortless about it. It is forced, if anything.


These terms (as far as you are using them) are clearly arbitrary servants to your sense of aesthetics.

Seriously, delve into the simplicity of Wiggle Wiggle and blow our minds.

Go for it.


CShoe-

Your hostility to other people's thoughts and opinions says more about you than the discussion happening above or the songs being discussed. There is a reason why so few real discussions happen on these boards. Whenever one starts, people who disagree with the nature of them or who (for one reason or another) can't take part in them for some reason feel like they have to stop them.

If you don't like the conversation, then ignore it. The only reason you would post these reactions is if you were threatened. And there is no reason to be threatened.


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 14:45 GMT 

Joined: Mon July 6th, 2009, 21:29 GMT
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AndrewThomas wrote:
The only reason you would post these reactions is if you were threatened.


Yes, naturally.

How is it again that you know how easy it was for Bob to create this song?


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 14:55 GMT 

Joined: Tue March 31st, 2009, 22:29 GMT
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Again, like I said, ease-of-creation was meant as an aesthetic description, the same way The Iliad or Mozart's 40th symphony seem so natural; they possess an ease-of-creation. It is a description of the work, not a historical claim about their composition.

Sorry if you misunderstood my intention.


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 15:39 GMT 

Joined: Mon July 6th, 2009, 21:29 GMT
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AndrewThomas wrote:
...possess an ease-of-creation. It is a description of the work, not a historical claim about their composition.

Sorry if you misunderstood my intention.


Yes, I have no idea how I misconstrued it.

:roll:


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 16:10 GMT 

Joined: Tue March 31st, 2009, 22:29 GMT
Posts: 137
nickvp wrote:
To Andrew,

"Things have changed" is maybe the Dylan song that I love the most. I wasn't a huge Dylan fan before, but ever since I heard it, I started collecting his albums and listening to his songs quite seriously.

On your assumption that it's him (the narrator) who's got "white skin" and "assassin's eyes", I completely agree. Obviously the narrator-character is constructed somewhat in reaction to the narrator in the movie (Grady Tripp). Dylan has seen the film before writing the song and also decided to act as a Grady-alter-ego in the clip for the song.
However. I wanted to say something else. I always felt like the song was not so much a product of post "Time Out Of Mind" than in some way more related to the mood of "Oh Mercy". Maybe because "Shooting Star" is on the soundtrack, too (as well as "Buckets of rain" from "Blood On Tracks"). However, on "Oh Mercy" you have another track who reflects that dostojevskian kind of self-perception of one who thinks he's "Got white skin, got assassin's eyes"; Someone who isn't really a killer but might look a bit pale, because the "Disease Of Conceit" keeps him up at night. What strikes me about that song is the sort of ridiculousness of that desease, but it's deeply human dimension in the ending (and, as I said, it includes the "evil eye"):

"There's a whole lot of people in trouble tonight from the disease of conceit
Whole lot of people seeing double tonight from the disease of conceit
Give you delusions of grandeur and evil eye
Give you the idea that you're too good to die"


Nickvp, I like what you were saying about "someone who isn't really a killer but might look a bit pale..." It reminds me of Ain't Talkin'. The narrator of that song is a cold-hearted sonofabitch. "I'll burn that bridge before you can cross" etc etc. Is he reprehensible? Is he just part of the reason why the world of the song is so awful? Does that nullify the song because how then could he righteously complain that the world is full of woe?

Or.... is he a product of the world? Is his posture as a hardened, uncaring, character (perhaps out of Dostoevsky) simply a human reaction to the world? Must one have "white skin and assassins eyes" to even survive? Must one be willing to "slaughter" sleeping opponents just to get by? As Dostoevsky (and I think Bob) knew (or at least expressed in their work) the position of Raskolnikov is an impossible one. It is impossible to sustain.

This inability to sustain presents a problem, and I think this is why in both of these songs, the narrator is moving drifting:

"Don't get up gentlemen, I'm only passing through..."
or
"Ain't talkin', just walkin'...
Walkin' ‘til I'm clean out of sight"

The situation is so personally and morally untenable that the only thing the narrators of these songs can do is leave.


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 18:22 GMT 
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theunwavedhand wrote:
The narrator has the assasin's eyes? You know something? I think you're right! I've been listening to the verse and it definitely seems to say "I've white skin and assassin's eyes". Well, that's an interesting new twist.


'His eyes were two slits, make any snake proud'


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 18:39 GMT 
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"Don't get up gentlemem, I'm only passing through" - That's Bob passing through life. He gives us the songs and then he's gone. That line almost sums up his career to me...

It's hard to explain in a way, but I feel it could represent his indifference to all the adulation he recieves...


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PostPosted: Fri September 4th, 2009, 20:20 GMT 
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CShoe wrote:
So what do you think of Wiggle Wiggle?
A fun song...the kind you can sing and dance to with your children.

Things Have Changed...some awesome performances up through 2005. I don't enjoy the performances from 2006 to the present as much but a great song.


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PostPosted: Sat September 5th, 2009, 00:10 GMT 
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Cropduster wrote:
"Don't get up gentlemem, I'm only passing through" - That's Bob passing through life. He gives us the songs and then he's gone. That line almost sums up his career to me...

It's hard to explain in a way, but I feel it could represent his indifference to all the adulation he recieves...


Also, of course, Blanche Dubois' line at the end of Streetcar Named Desire: "Don't get up. I'm only passing through." On her way to the asylum. people are crazy...

One of my favorites and often played well live, especially 2000-2003.


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PostPosted: Sat September 5th, 2009, 14:06 GMT 

Joined: Mon June 15th, 2009, 02:35 GMT
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CShoe wrote:
theunwavedhand wrote:
If a song like Things Have Changed can generate so many reactions and so many emotional interpretations it must be good


Or could it be that it is a crappy, arbitrary song produced by a guy whose lyrics have historically attracted a lot of pseudo-scholarly analysis, so much so that even his crappy, generic songs sooner or later receive that treatment?

Depends how narrowly you define "good". Maybe I should have said "productive". But the point is the song obviously gives a lot of people plenty of things to think about and to discuss. It has a mood, a complex of allusions, it feels - as smoke said - like a mansion with many rooms. How does he get that feeling? What makes the song so satisfying for so many? I think that is a worthwhile discussion.


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