Expecting Rain
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What is License to Kill about?
https://www.expectingrain.com/discussions/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=77826
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Author:  rolling_thunder [ Sat October 26th, 2013, 06:36 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

raging_glory wrote:
I've always felt that the woman is mainly a device to propel the story.


I can appreciate the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool interpretation, but personally, I've never taken the song to be specifically political in nature, but more broadly an indictment on human vanity and arrogance.


That's the way I see it too. Though I've never thought about a lot of the things that a lot of the other posters have said about it. Pretty profound stuff from the ER crew about what they think this song means.

Author:  Henry Porter [ Sat October 26th, 2013, 14:09 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Surprisingly, this question came back to me just as I was turning in last night and it occurred to me how prescient this song is. While it was quite likely about the military-industrial complex, it now fits very well into the issue of climate change.

Author:  henrypussycat [ Sat October 26th, 2013, 14:30 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

to me the woman was just a lame conceit, lazy writing

Even with Mick Taylor, some fine harmonica, and the big subject I think it's one of Dylan's worst written songs.

Author:  Mickvet [ Sat October 26th, 2013, 18:17 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Henry Porter wrote:
Surprisingly, this question came back to me just as I was turning in last night and it occurred to me how prescient this song is. While it was quite likely about the military-industrial complex, it now fits very well into the issue of climate change.


Dylan might not agree, if he's reaction to a Jan Wenner attempt to put words in his mouth in an interview some years ago for a Rolling Stone issue that happened to have a 'climate change' theme means anything: Jan Wenner: "Do you worry about global warming?" and Dylan responds: "Where's the global warming? It's freezing here." Is it not logical that an artist writing an album devoted to imminent apocalypse due to far more traditional causes would be rather unperturbed by climate change? If he has more recently declaimed that 'the world will explode', is he not more of the view that we'll go out with a bang, not a whimper?

Author:  The Killer Snark [ Sun October 27th, 2013, 07:37 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

It's about James Bond.

Author:  Queen Anne Lace [ Sun October 27th, 2013, 07:55 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Mickvet wrote:
Secondly, I'm a bit dim, so could someone explain the Morrissey reference, please?

Here you go, Mickvet..
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=77738

Also, do you ever check your private messages ? :P

Author:  Mickvet [ Sun October 27th, 2013, 10:51 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Queen Anne Lace wrote:
Mickvet wrote:
Secondly, I'm a bit dim, so could someone explain the Morrissey reference, please?

Here you go, Mickvet..
http://www.expectingrain.com/discussion ... 19&t=77738

Also, do you ever check your private messages ? :P


Thank you very much for that. As for 'private messages', I have never checked them , because this is the first time I've ever heard of them! I'm quite a Luddite I'm afraid (in fact, I'm content to be :) ).


Postscript:

Ah, found them. Well, every day is a new one in the university of life. A nice message from you on there too about my comment on the religion, agnosticism and so on thread.

Author:  MMD [ Sun October 27th, 2013, 10:59 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Mickvet wrote:
Henry Porter wrote:
Surprisingly, this question came back to me just as I was turning in last night and it occurred to me how prescient this song is. While it was quite likely about the military-industrial complex, it now fits very well into the issue of climate change.


Dylan might not agree, if he's reaction to a Jan Wenner attempt to put words in his mouth in an interview some years ago for a Rolling Stone issue that happened to have a 'climate change' theme means anything: Jan Wenner: "Do you worry about global warming?" and Dylan responds: "Where's the global warming? It's freezing here." Is it not logical that an artist writing an album devoted to imminent apocalypse due to far more traditional causes would be rather unperturbed by climate change? If he has more recently declaimed that 'the world will explode', is he not more of the view that we'll go out with a bang, not a whimper?


Two likely reasons for his answer about global climate change:
1) he's being a smart ass as usual;
2) he's a bit of a kook and thinks a radically devastating problem is a hoax or some liberal nonsense.

I wouldn't sleep on 2.

Author:  Mickvet [ Sun October 27th, 2013, 11:15 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

^

He's always a smart-ass on the one side, isn't he? How do you rationalise that? A lot of people find it impossible to accept what the man says at face-value. Go read the lyrics to Band Of The Hand. Or even My Back Pages. These are quite explicit statements of Dylan's positions on political affairs, unless you assume he always means the opposite of what he, in fact, says. Which is a bit of a slur on an artist many admire for his integrity.

Author:  MMD [ Sun October 27th, 2013, 11:25 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

^ I don't know what hardly any of what you just said means.

Author:  the_revelator [ Sun October 27th, 2013, 11:28 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Md23Rewls wrote:
That landing on the moon was the worst thing ever done in the history of mankind for some reason.



That's the best line in the song. Man has wandered off somewhere that he was never meant to be and will spoil that too.

Author:  Mickvet [ Sun October 27th, 2013, 11:46 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

MMD wrote:
^ I don't know what hardly any of what you just said means.


No point in going on then.

Author:  Trev [ Sun October 27th, 2013, 12:32 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

The Star Wars defense program was announced just before the Infidels recording sessions, so that may have been the precise spur for the couplet "Man has invented his doom/First step was touching the moon". In another thread on this song - viewtopic.php?f=6&t=49755 - telltale makes the point :

he's really taken against the idea of space exploration on this album, portraying it as a particularly injudicious form of colonialism

License to Kill :
Oh, man has invented his doom,
First step was touching the moon.

Then they bury him with stars,
Sell his body like they do used cars.

Neighborhood Bully :
Does he pollute the moon and stars?

Union Sundown :
They used to grow food in Kansas
Now they want to grow it on the moon and eat it raw.
(Which chimes with this, from Jokerman, which could just-about be or maybe-not-quite read as extolling the virtues of the agrarian lifestyle as opposed to space conquest - Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space.)

From Broadway to the Milky Way,
That’s a lot of territory indeed.

Author:  JerryvonKramer [ Fri November 1st, 2013, 20:00 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Doesn't the whole of Infidels feel quite right-wing to you? Are people suggesting that he's actually parodying that position on the album?

Author:  dgsvoboda [ Fri November 1st, 2013, 20:05 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Calico Jack wrote:
Cain slew Abel and the blood dimmed tide was loosed upon the world, to paraphrase another poet.
Dylan was trying to reconcile old and new testaments within his freewheeling spirit.
He was wondering where Jesus was outside of the strictures of the born again movement.
Jesus said the devil was a murderer from the very beginning which gives the song it's ignition.
So where does the slaughter end?
In Jerusalem at the end of all time?
Nothing seems to stem the tsunami of violence.
Politics, charity, being "good", Olympic games, nothing, not even religion which some would say is the root cause of all of it.
The song has theological power, but no answers, just the plaintive feminine principle shuddering at the never ending flow of it.
Dylan has studied war and knows you can find courage and hope even there, but on this song he is singing about the brainless need for violence because might is right which unravels every tyranny eventually.


"It's doom alone that counts." -- J.W. Goethe

Author:  kybo8845 [ Fri November 1st, 2013, 20:32 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

JerryvonKramer wrote:
Doesn't the whole of Infidels feel quite right-wing to you? Are people suggesting that he's actually parodying that position on the album?

:? Right-wing( Neighborhood Bully Is pro-Israel :shock: )? Please expand.

Author:  yolacrary [ Fri November 1st, 2013, 20:52 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

"Neighborhood Bully" is definitely right-wing. The rest of it, I don't see as right-wing, though it is perhaps a kind of conservative, which is hardly the same thing.

Author:  Mickvet [ Fri November 1st, 2013, 22:26 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

yolacrary wrote:
"Neighborhood Bully" is definitely right-wing. The rest of it, I don't see as right-wing, though it is perhaps a kind of conservative, which is hardly the same thing.


Succinct. Political labels can mean different things to different people, but Bob is conservative, I believe, in the sense of being somewhat old-fashioned and something of a traditionalist. Union Sundown can be interpreted as a lament for the decline of trade unions as well as the Union of these United States, hardly a neo-conservative viewpoint. It comes across more as nostalgia for an older, perhaps fairer, world that had passed away. I find it hard to blame a Jew as Biblical as Dylan for feeling defensive about Israel, though.

And welcome to ER.

Author:  JerryvonKramer [ Sat November 2nd, 2013, 11:52 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

I'm from the UK not the US, which may inform what I think of as being right-wing. Much of Infidels sounds like rhetoric from the American right to my ears.

Author:  henrypussycat [ Sat November 2nd, 2013, 14:49 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Mickvet wrote:
yolacrary wrote:
"Neighborhood Bully" is definitely right-wing. The rest of it, I don't see as right-wing, though it is perhaps a kind of conservative, which is hardly the same thing.


Succinct. Political labels can mean different things to different people, but Bob is conservative, I believe, in the sense of being somewhat old-fashioned and something of a traditionalist. Union Sundown can be interpreted as a lament for the decline of trade unions as well as the Union of these United States, hardly a neo-conservative viewpoint. It comes across more as nostalgia for an older, perhaps fairer, world that had passed away. I find it hard to blame a Jew as Biblical as Dylan for feeling defensive about Israel, though.

And welcome to ER.


"Capitalism is above the law" is a peculiar conservatism, like the conservatism of 19th century Catholicism. It sure isn't Randian.

To me the interesting common feature of the songs was some kind of apocalyptic reference:

the woman gave birth today in Jokerman
running out the clock, time standing still in Neighborhood Bully (which I took to refer to Armageddon)
following a star in Man of Peace
home garden in Union Sundown, also the Broadway to the Milky Way bit

Author:  Mickvet [ Sat November 2nd, 2013, 17:07 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

" "Capitalism is above the law" is a peculiar conservatism, like the conservatism of 19th century Catholicism. It sure isn't Randian.":

You may have hit the nail on the head. Modern 'conservatism' is a misnomer, I feel, containing a contradictory mixture of radical, neo-Darwinian economics with traditional social beliefs. This economic survival of the fittest combined with a reckless Keynesianism, not really different from that of the Left, has little to do with traditional conservatism which more closely resembles the Catholic tradition you describe, and might be close enough to Dylan's views. It is sometimes described as 'Mom and Pop' capitalism, a different animal entirely to corporate hegemony which is disturbingly similar to state central planning.

Author:  Southside [ Sat November 2nd, 2013, 19:05 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Like your take Trev. The man & space theme permeates the album.

LTK to me it's about "man" initiating / stretching his limits to point of government sanctioned lethal force. Slavery. Oppression. Corruption.

"Now, there’s a woman on my block."

Image

Author:  JerryvonKramer [ Sat November 2nd, 2013, 20:19 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

Last few posts in this thread have been exceptional. Very insightful.

And the woman as the Statue of Liberty is my favourite take yet.

Author:  kybo8845 [ Sun November 3rd, 2013, 00:55 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

:? You guys do know that Dylan was being sarcastic when he sang the words "capitalism is above the law", right?

Well, you know, lots of people complainin’ that there is no work
I say, “Why you say that for
When nothin’ you got is U.S.–made?”
They don’t make nothin’ here no more
You know, capitalism is above the law
It say, “It don’t count ’less it sells”
When it costs too much to build it at home
You just build it cheaper someplace else

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way

Author:  Mickvet [ Sun November 3rd, 2013, 01:14 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: What is License to Kill about?

kybo8845 wrote:
:? You guys do know that Dylan was being sarcastic when he sang the words "capitalism is above the law", right?

Well, you know, lots of people complainin’ that there is no work
I say, “Why you say that for
When nothin’ you got is U.S.–made?”
They don’t make nothin’ here no more
You know, capitalism is above the law
It say, “It don’t count ’less it sells”
When it costs too much to build it at home
You just build it cheaper someplace else

Well, it’s sundown on the union
And what’s made in the U.S.A.
Sure was a good idea
’Til greed got in the way


It isn't absolutely definable-it rarely is with Mr Dylan-but I think it can still be interpreted as a dig at capitalism, or at least the cynical kind that sacrifices domestic community for profit.

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