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PostPosted: Thu March 1st, 2018, 00:38 GMT 
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It feels like he’s made his point with this one live.
It cuts to the core, still, just like hearing it that first time!


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PostPosted: Fri March 30th, 2018, 12:56 GMT 
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NateW wrote:
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A plodding, egregious blemish on an otherwise splendid album, its principal merit being its place in the sequence: as the final number, it's painlessly skipped. Now I'll concede that the nautical and outlaw themes are strong; Bob being Bob, he could not but come up with some powerful raw materials. But the song passes beyond redemption with its laughably ham-fisted Beatles lyric and song-title quotations and - above all - by the utterly inexcusable analogy it tries to draw between pop stardom and slavery. One would expect Dylan to know better. Regrettable that "Lenny Bruce" has now been surpassed as the definitive instance of a mawkishly gruesome "tribute" in Bob's canon.


Seriously? You don't think Bob Dylan would be well aware of how "laughably ham-fisted" these lyrics are? Neither this song nor Lenny Bruce are "tribute" songs. They're folk songs. Like "Old John Henry." They're not paying tribute to a historical person, they're not about any specific "analogy," they're using a character or person that people are familiar with as a memorable backdrop to communicate universal truths about human nature, life, character, God, etc.

Dylan is inviting his listener to look deeper, calling him/her to open their eyes and discover for themselves the same truth that he sees incarnated within the stories of these people and in that to understand a little more that which is common to every human being, that which connects every human story.

Dylan DOES know better than to write a trite, kitschy, tribute song, but he does it anyway precisely because he expects that those who really WANT to understand will begin peeling back the layers while those who just want to be critics will feel justified in writing it off.

If you're really interested in understanding what Dylan is getting at in this song, go "Read the book of Revelation" and do some google searches about the fate of its author, the apostle John (hint: he wrote "Revelation" as an old man who had been exiled to a remote island for his preaching about Christ where he was forced into slave labor) spend some time learning about and reading William Blake, especially "The marriage of Heaven and Hell" and the Songs of Innocence/Experience that Tyger Tyger comes from. Give another listen to Lennon's "Imagine" and ponder why there isn't a single reference to what is arguably Lennon's most famous work in a song that, on the surface, seems to be wishing him well in the afterlife.

The general theme of the entire album (Tempest) is this mysterious marriage of the heavenly and hellish here on earth (and even within ourselves) and the burden we each share as watchmen, as prophets, to see it for what it is, to repent of our part in the hellishness of earth, and to take action to make sure that heaven (or whatever your vision of eternal happiness/peace/joy might be) isn't just a blissful idea in our heads, but a reality that we are working towards for the weak and oppressed in our midst. Tempest is about waking up from our own blind pursuit of happiness (or our own blind religious fervor) and working to relievie the hell that another person is going through by our own sacrifice, even knowing to that death is right around the corner for each of us. Somewhere in the midst of this self-sacrificial giving of our lives to others (and perhaps taking some share of Hell onto ourselves), paradoxically, lies our only hope of eternal peace and rest together.

In short, Tempest is about giving up our own dreams (imaginations?) of a religious afterlife/heaven that prevent us from seeing those who suffer here on earth. It is not a rejection of the Christian faith, but of the notion that Christ's goal is save us from the earth rather than saving the earth through our actions.

Roll on John is the perfect ending to this album!



So well put NateW. Can't understand anyone who would see this song as kitsch or trite. It's got layers of meaning, from superficial to very deep.

I would love of course if he published a new original album. But if he does not this as a final song, on the tragic death of John Lennon, would be very very fine. Thank you NatW!


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PostPosted: Fri March 30th, 2018, 13:24 GMT 
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Lone Pilgrim wrote:
A plodding, egregious blemish on an otherwise splendid album, its principal merit being its place in the sequence: as the final number, it's painlessly skipped. Now I'll concede that the nautical and outlaw themes are strong; Bob being Bob, he could not but come up with some powerful raw materials. But the song passes beyond redemption with its laughably ham-fisted Beatles lyric and song-title quotations and - above all - by the utterly inexcusable analogy it tries to draw between pop stardom and slavery. One would expect Dylan to know better. Regrettable that "Lenny Bruce" has now been surpassed as the definitive instance of a mawkishly gruesome "tribute" in Bob's canon.

I had huge expectations before Tempest came out for "Roll On''.
Dylan always keeps a good salvo in store for an album closer, but this
one always felt like a miss-fire.
Oddly less than the sum of it's composite parts; it never really takes off.
I'm sure a lot of work went into it, but it still reads like a second draft.


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PostPosted: Fri March 30th, 2018, 14:14 GMT 
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gerardv wrote:
Lone Pilgrim wrote:
A plodding, egregious blemish on an otherwise splendid album, its principal merit being its place in the sequence: as the final number, it's painlessly skipped. Now I'll concede that the nautical and outlaw themes are strong; Bob being Bob, he could not but come up with some powerful raw materials. But the song passes beyond redemption with its laughably ham-fisted Beatles lyric and song-title quotations and - above all - by the utterly inexcusable analogy it tries to draw between pop stardom and slavery. One would expect Dylan to know better. Regrettable that "Lenny Bruce" has now been surpassed as the definitive instance of a mawkishly gruesome "tribute" in Bob's canon.

I had huge expectations before Tempest came out for "Roll On''.
Dylan always keeps a good salvo in store for an album closer, but this
one always felt like a miss-fire.
Oddly less than the sum of it's composite parts; it never really takes off.
I'm sure a lot of work went into it, but it still reads like a second draft.


I hear what you are saying but I can't understand your view point. Musically this song has a dream-like and dirge-like quality. The melody and arragement fit the themes of a life lived, death, loss, being trapped, slavery, and other themes I haven't heard yet perfectly. He evokes the Beatles in a little repeating melody motif, and in repeating some of their lyrics. He does it so well.

For me the critics of this song just don't get the mood of it. They don't let it seep in. It's like a painting. He threw lots of images on the canvas and you can look at all the images there on the canvas at once. They're certainly not linear lyrics, but a jumble of images all together.

I was so shocked as a very young child when John Lennon was shot. It upset me in a way I had never experienced before. I loved the Beatles then. They were my heroes. And I was so young, not even a teen. I didn't bring that up with anyone then. Didn't even have the words to express myself. You just didn't talk about feelings back then the way the people do now. So, it is a very personal song for me too. It expresses a feeling for me about an event that upset me very much but I had buried how I felt about it for years. It says to me, your life burned bright, what happened to you John (and others) was a horror but you are still with us, your spirit is still rolling around us, around the world and you're in safe tranquil place now.

Maybe that's part of the reason why some people really like it and others don't. Maybe it's how some of us felt at the time of his murder that this song evokes so much. It's such a long time ago. And even more beautiful that Dylan wrote a song to John Lennon all these years later.


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PostPosted: Fri March 30th, 2018, 14:58 GMT 
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One of several Dylan songs that I will never understand why they get so much bashing by fans.
It´s a melodically beautiful song, very moving tribute to a long gone pal. I love it


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PostPosted: Fri March 30th, 2018, 15:08 GMT 

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wormington wrote:
One of several Dylan songs that I will never understand why they get so much bashing by fans.
It´s a melodically beautiful song, very moving tribute to a long gone pal. I love it


Same. The chorus is beautiful too.


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PostPosted: Fri March 30th, 2018, 16:46 GMT 
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GirlsWon'tLeaveMeAlone wrote:
gerardv wrote:
I had huge expectations before Tempest came out for "Roll On''.
Dylan always keeps a good salvo in store for an album closer, but this
one always felt like a miss-fire.
Oddly less than the sum of it's composite parts; it never really takes off.
I'm sure a lot of work went into it, but it still reads like a second draft.


I hear what you are saying but I can't understand your view point. Musically this song has a dream-like and dirge-like quality. The melody and arragement fit the themes of a life lived, death, loss, being trapped, slavery, and other themes I haven't heard yet perfectly. He evokes the Beatles in a little repeating melody motif, and in repeating some of their lyrics. He does it so well.

For me the critics of this song just don't get the mood of it. They don't let it seep in. It's like a painting. He threw lots of images on the canvas and you can look at all the images there on the canvas at once. They're certainly not linear lyrics, but a jumble of images all together.

I was so shocked as a very young child when John Lennon was shot. It upset me in a way I had never experienced before. I loved the Beatles then. They were my heroes. And I was so young, not even a teen. I didn't bring that up with anyone then. Didn't even have the words to express myself. You just didn't talk about feelings back then the way the people do now. So, it is a very personal song for me too. It expresses a feeling for me about an event that upset me very much but I had buried how I felt about it for years. It says to me, your life burned bright, what happened to you John (and others) was a horror but you are still with us, your spirit is still rolling around us, around the world and you're in safe tranquil place now.

Maybe that's part of the reason why some people really like it and others don't. Maybe it's how some of us felt at the time of his murder that this song evokes so much. It's such a long time ago. And even more beautiful that Dylan wrote a song to John Lennon all these years later.

Yes I guess it's just different perspectives. Dylan is a master story teller, and I was just missing the
mastery here. And when you tackle an iconic story like this, my hope would be that the song would
have that certain timeless quality that so many Dylan songs have. It's not too much to ask for as he
can still do it; look at Forgetful Heart, Pay In Blood, Scarlet Town. I agree that the basic attitude &
approach is right, but to my ears, the lyrics have a minor case of the clunk.

From the Liverpool docks to the red-light Hamburg streets
Down in the quarry with the Quarry men
Playing to the big crowds, playing to the cheap seats
Another day in the life on your way to your journey's end

But there you go, it's so very subjective. I stopped myself from biting back at some of the comments
placed in the "Your personal most disliked Bob Dylan song" the other day, because I so passionately
disagree with some of the criticism.


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PostPosted: Fri March 30th, 2018, 17:11 GMT 
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gerardv wrote:
And when you tackle an iconic story like this, my hope would be that the song would
have that certain timeless quality that so many Dylan songs have. It's not too much to ask for as he
can still do it; look at Forgetful Heart, Pay In Blood, Scarlet Town.


Thank you for elaborating Gerardv. Am genuinely interested in what makes a song 'work' for different people, not from the point of view 'The song I like is better than yours'! :D


So in that vain, what does a timeless quality specifally mean to you? The songs you mention they sound very good but don't get me the way Roll on John does now. But I will listen again after what you have said. I do hear the odd clunky rhyme in Roll on but it's no worse to me than the famous Kelp verse in Sara. It doesn't take away from the WHOLE feeling he creates in this song for me. As you say it is all very subjective. But I am interested in that idea of 'Timeless'. BTW, sorry if I am being a pain in the arse! :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri March 30th, 2018, 18:05 GMT 
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GirlsWon'tLeaveMeAlone wrote:
gerardv wrote:
And when you tackle an iconic story like this, my hope would be that the song would
have that certain timeless quality that so many Dylan songs have. It's not too much to ask for as he
can still do it; look at Forgetful Heart, Pay In Blood, Scarlet Town.


Thank you for elaborating Gerardv. Am genuinely interested in what makes a song 'work' for different people, not from the point of view 'The song I like is better than yours'! :D


So in that vain, what does a timeless quality specifally mean to you? The songs you mention they sound very good but don't get me the way Roll on John does now. But I will listen again after what you have said. I do hear the odd clunky rhyme in Roll on but it's no worse to me than the famous Kelp verse in Sara. It doesn't take away from the WHOLE feeling he creates in this song for me. As you say it is all very subjective. But I am interested in that idea of 'Timeless'. BTW, sorry if I am being a pain in the arse! :lol:

To me it's that confluence of elements: lyrics, structure, rhythm, melody, performance.
All seem to come from the same place, and all reinforce each other. A great example,
very non-Dylan, is Earth Wind & Fire's September. When you hear it, everything about it
is so right that it affects your brain chemistry within 20 seconds.

Examples from Dylan's catalogue are too numerous, but just looking at latter day non-hit
classics I'd say Not Dark Yet, Things Have Changed, Blind Willie, Mississippi, Forgetful Heart
and the list goes on. Could those songs be improved? It's hard to imagine how. Examples
the 60s & 70s are too numerous to list. It's dozens and dozens.

With Roll On, I can appreciate the sentiment but it seems to transcend the execution
somehow. Obviously Dylan likes it very much as he closes the album with it..


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PostPosted: Fri March 30th, 2018, 21:57 GMT 
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gerardv wrote:
GirlsWon'tLeaveMeAlone wrote:

Thank you for elaborating Gerardv. Am genuinely interested in what makes a song 'work' for different people, not from the point of view 'The song I like is better than yours'! :D


So in that vain, what does a timeless quality specifally mean to you? The songs you mention they sound very good but don't get me the way Roll on John does now. But I will listen again after what you have said. I do hear the odd clunky rhyme in Roll on but it's no worse to me than the famous Kelp verse in Sara. It doesn't take away from the WHOLE feeling he creates in this song for me. As you say it is all very subjective. But I am interested in that idea of 'Timeless'. BTW, sorry if I am being a pain in the arse! :lol:

To me it's that confluence of elements: lyrics, structure, rhythm, melody, performance.
All seem to come from the same place, and all reinforce each other. A great example,
very non-Dylan, is Earth Wind & Fire's September. When you hear it, everything about it
is so right that it affects your brain chemistry within 20 seconds.

Examples from Dylan's catalogue are too numerous, but just looking at latter day non-hit
classics I'd say Not Dark Yet, Things Have Changed, Blind Willie, Mississippi, Forgetful Heart
and the list goes on. Could those songs be improved? It's hard to imagine how. Examples
the 60s & 70s are too numerous to list. It's dozens and dozens.

With Roll On, I can appreciate the sentiment but it seems to transcend the execution
somehow. Obviously Dylan likes it very much as he closes the album with it..


Thanks again. I can't say I agree 'cos Roll on John does affect my brain chemistry. You have a good way of putting how a song affects a person. Being a subjective thing is key. Not Dark Yet, Things have changed, Blind Willie too, these have rearranged my brain. Will never forget the first time I heard all of those songs. The others you mention I'll listen to again. I didn't warm to Early Roman Kings but I love it now. Pay in Blood is coming on with me. I didn't like it much at first. But am prepared to give it time and hearing him play it live was good.

What I don't understand is people who whinge about songs that Bob Dylan obviously likes and wants to play. Presumably they have an effect on his feelings, brain chemistry or whatever this subjective feeling is too. Complaining when he has put a particular song on an album is like telling the painter to put his paints away. I'll never understand that point of view. He is not some X-factor candidate that should play to the Galleries. I want to just hear what's his list of preferences. Not anyone elses. I know I won't always immediately like all his songs and choices. But no matter.

But anyhow cheers and thanks for the song chat!


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PostPosted: Sat March 31st, 2018, 08:48 GMT 

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Nicely put, GWLMA. I agree about Dylan calling the shots, rather than the fans.


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PostPosted: Sat March 31st, 2018, 08:54 GMT 
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mjmooney wrote:
Nicely put, GWLMA. I agree about Dylan calling the shots, rather than the fans.


Thank you MJMooney. Good to know another person has a similar point of view.


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PostPosted: Sat March 31st, 2018, 10:37 GMT 
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GirlsWon'tLeaveMeAlone wrote:
Thanks again. I can't say I agree 'cos Roll on John does affect my brain chemistry. You have a good way of putting how a song affects a person. Being a subjective thing is key. Not Dark Yet, Things have changed, Blind Willie too, these have rearranged my brain. Will never forget the first time I heard all of those songs. The others you mention I'll listen to again. I didn't warm to Early Roman Kings but I love it now. Pay in Blood is coming on with me. I didn't like it much at first. But am prepared to give it time and hearing him play it live was good.

What I don't understand is people who whinge about songs that Bob Dylan obviously likes and wants to play. Presumably they have an effect on his feelings, brain chemistry or whatever this subjective feeling is too. Complaining when he has put a particular song on an album is like telling the painter to put his paints away. I'll never understand that point of view. He is not some X-factor candidate that should play to the Galleries. I want to just hear what's his list of preferences. Not anyone elses. I know I won't always immediately like all his songs and choices. But no matter.

But anyhow cheers and thanks for the song chat!

You're welcome GWLMA. Tunes like Pay In Blood & Roll On work better in the "dialled down" live versions IMO. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku4iGFVYsfA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKbnC8XRwDg)

I agree about Early Roman Kings. I've always been a bit puzzled about the criticism it gets. Bob
has stuck with it and it's proven very strong on stage, as have a number of the other Tempest
tracks.


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