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PostPosted: Wed June 20th, 2018, 12:37 GMT 

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At least not specifically. In my opinion John acts as a stand-in for the whole generation who have either passed away or are now approaching the end of the line, including Dylan himself. That's how I hear it anyway and it makes more sense that way. Especially in the context of Tempest which is consumed by themes of mortality and nostalgia. I don't think Bob would be as flippant as to end a major work (regardless of your opinion of the album its clearly one of his more ambitious) with a simple tribute to an acquaintance who died decades ago. The Blake cribbing, which initially seem utterly incongruous, also seems to work with this kind of interpretation.

I'm sure this isn't an original thought but I just find it silly when people dismiss this as an empty tribute to Lennon.

What do other people think about this track?


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PostPosted: Wed June 20th, 2018, 14:37 GMT 

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It's about John Lennon. But I'm not clear on the whole 'empty tribute' description.


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PostPosted: Wed June 20th, 2018, 14:52 GMT 
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I, too, need clarification on the apparent dismissal & empty tribute thing.


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PostPosted: Wed June 20th, 2018, 15:05 GMT 
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Maybe it's a classic case of emphasising the specific in order to highlight the universal?

Too many references, not to be largely about John Lennon.

Liverpool, Hamburg, Quarrymen, playing to the cheap seats,

A Day In The Life, Come Together, and other links.

One get's older and more nostalgic, as contemporaries pass away.

Mortality becomes more of a pressing concern , and I suppose signwriting genius's like Dylan are no exception.

Not a great song in my opinion, but even 'middling' Dylan is better than none at all.


Last edited by Leonard on Wed June 20th, 2018, 15:29 GMT, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed June 20th, 2018, 15:20 GMT 
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Leonard wrote:
Not a great song in my opinion, but even 'middling' Dylan is better than none at all.


This


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PostPosted: Wed June 20th, 2018, 15:59 GMT 
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The song flips between John Lennon and John the Revelator on the isle of Patmos, sometimes blurring the two characters together. To me it sounds like his blurring of the two characters is his way of proclaiming Lennon was a modern day Revelator.

I like the song a lot and it makes for a nice closer. It took me a few spins to get into it but I don't see anything "wrong" with the song. It fits well with the whole Tempest album and with Duquesne Whistle, forms a nice book end to what is contained therein.


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PostPosted: Wed June 20th, 2018, 23:10 GMT 

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I feel that with all the references in the lyrics, it's so obviously about John Lennon that, knowing Dylan, it isn't really about Lennon at all.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 00:49 GMT 
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I interpret most Bob Dylan songs as being about more people than the stated subject (in this case John Lennon)


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 01:06 GMT 
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It's about the Foggy Dew. The misty places in his mind that he now inhabits, in the Highlands. Not really tied to a particular thing, or person.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 01:43 GMT 
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There are many Johns here, surrounding Lennon, starting with the opening lines, which are from a Lonnie Johnson song. (Dylan talks in Chronicles about how Johnson -- Robert Johnson's hero -- taught him a new pattern of guitar playing.)


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 02:32 GMT 
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Lennon is just a piece. The final song on Tempest mixes equal parts John Lennon, John the Apostle (responsible for the final book of the Bible and called "The apostle of Light"), possibly Prospero (the wizard/god responsible for the shipwreck in Shakespeare's final play, The Tempest), and a dash of Odysseus--each cooped up on an island far too long (a direct quote from the Odyssey). And Dylan (his final original song? I hope not.) But also much more.

It ends powerfully with Blake's The Tyger, about the presence of darkness and evil in the world and how the same God responsible for creating the lamb could be responsible for such ferocity. The Tiger in the poem is a work of art and reflects the nature of its creator--beautiful and terrifying. And potentially violent? All major themes of the record. The Tyger contrasted with the Christian Child's prayer--contrasting the innocence and horror--and maybe foreshadowing the lion laying down with the lamb at the end of all.

And then there's "Shine Your Light."

Used in the 1979 Dylan song Precious Angel. Lennon had of course publicly called out Dylan's conversion in 1979, responding with "Serve Yourself"

I love how Dylan changes "Christ" to "Lord" in the line Lord you know how hard it can be. Changing from a curse to a prayer.

The song is dense. Maybe too dense. But I think it's brilliant. And a perfect ending to Tempest--and if God forbid it were his last original song--it wraps the whole deal up.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 05:46 GMT 
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It's his ModBob 'Lenny Bruce'.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 07:00 GMT 

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John B. Stetson wrote:
Lennon is just a piece. The final song on Tempest mixes equal parts John Lennon, John the Apostle (responsible for the final book of the Bible and called "The apostle of Light"), possibly Prospero (the wizard/god responsible for the shipwreck in Shakespeare's final play, The Tempest), and a dash of Odysseus--each cooped up on an island far too long (a direct quote from the Odyssey). And Dylan (his final original song? I hope not.) But also much more.

It ends powerfully with Blake's The Tyger, about the presence of darkness and evil in the world and how the same God responsible for creating the lamb could be responsible for such ferocity. The Tiger in the poem is a work of art and reflects the nature of its creator--beautiful and terrifying. And potentially violent? All major themes of the record. The Tyger contrasted with the Christian Child's prayer--contrasting the innocence and horror--and maybe foreshadowing the lion laying down with the lamb at the end of all.

And then there's "Shine Your Light."

Used in the 1979 Dylan song Precious Angel. Lennon had of course publicly called out Dylan's conversion in 1979, responding with "Serve Yourself"

I love how Dylan changes "Christ" to "Lord" in the line Lord you know how hard it can be. Changing from a curse to a prayer.

The song is dense. Maybe too dense. But I think it's brilliant. And a perfect ending to Tempest--and if God forbid it were his last original song--it wraps the whole deal up.


That's a mighty post. You say that this song wraps the album up-you've just wrapped the song up.

We should all listen to Tempest, and Roll On John in particular, after digesting this summary.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 07:46 GMT 

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he literally did an interview with rolling stone saying this song is about john lennon


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 09:58 GMT 

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SunCityGirl wrote:
he literally did an interview with rolling stone saying this song is about john lennon

Which adds more weight to the theory that it isn't.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 10:24 GMT 
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Absolutely Sour Marie wrote:
SunCityGirl wrote:
he literally did an interview with rolling stone saying this song is about john lennon

Which adds more weight to the theory that it isn't.



Lol, this place man.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 11:48 GMT 
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John B. Stetson wrote:
Lennon is just a piece. The final song on Tempest mixes equal parts John Lennon, John the Apostle (responsible for the final book of the Bible and called "The apostle of Light"), possibly Prospero (the wizard/god responsible for the shipwreck in Shakespeare's final play, The Tempest), and a dash of Odysseus--each cooped up on an island far too long (a direct quote from the Odyssey). And Dylan (his final original song? I hope not.) But also much more.

It ends powerfully with Blake's The Tyger, about the presence of darkness and evil in the world and how the same God responsible for creating the lamb could be responsible for such ferocity. The Tiger in the poem is a work of art and reflects the nature of its creator--beautiful and terrifying. And potentially violent? All major themes of the record. The Tyger contrasted with the Christian Child's prayer--contrasting the innocence and horror--and maybe foreshadowing the lion laying down with the lamb at the end of all.

And then there's "Shine Your Light."

Used in the 1979 Dylan song Precious Angel. Lennon had of course publicly called out Dylan's conversion in 1979, responding with "Serve Yourself"

I love how Dylan changes "Christ" to "Lord" in the line Lord you know how hard it can be. Changing from a curse to a prayer.

The song is dense. Maybe too dense. But I think it's brilliant. And a perfect ending to Tempest--and if God forbid it were his last original song--it wraps the whole deal up.


Thank you for this. Roll On John has always been my favorite song on Tempest, and now you have helped me understand why.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 14:41 GMT 
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SunCityGirl wrote:
he literally did an interview with rolling stone saying this song is about john lennon


It is about John Lennon. And a lot of other stuff too.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 15:57 GMT 

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I have it on good source that it is about John Mayer and his many break-ups. :evil:


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 18:54 GMT 
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This song is bigger than debating whether it is or is not about Lennon.
Lennon's death crushed me back in 1980, and Elton's tribute still gets to me, so my initial reaction to Roll On John was not surprising:

I'm listening to Tempest on the evening of it's release, lights down low, nice beverage, everything just right.
I recognize immediately that the album is far richer than Together Through Life. Duquesne is a great opener, Long and Wasted Years is ragged and stunning, Scarlet Town is mesmerizing, Tempest is impossibly long and surely worthy of deeper analysis, and then... Roll On, John.

References to Lennon are obvious, and I'm sensing something going on with John the Revelator. At the end, Blake's Tyger Tyger ratchets up the emotional intensity, just before the final chorus brings me to tears.

If Dylan had written it about Lennon exclusively, it may have been tossed to the 'skip it' pile along with the dreadful Joey and Lenny Bruce. Instead, it's a fantastic song and a worthy closer to a very good album.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 21:32 GMT 

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summerteeth wrote:
References to Lennon are obvious, and I'm sensing something going on with John the Revelator. At the end, Blake's Tyger Tyger ratchets up the emotional intensity, just before the final chorus brings me to tears.

If Dylan had written it about Lennon exclusively, it may have been tossed to the 'skip it' pile along with the dreadful Joey and Lenny Bruce. Instead, it's a fantastic song and a worthy closer to a very good album.


This is more or less what I meant with my initial post... put far more eloquently :wink:


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 21:55 GMT 
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summerteeth wrote:
...it may have been tossed to the 'skip it' pile...

Unfortunately it rests in my 'skip it' pile. It feels stretched at over 7 minutes and the constant references to The Beatles make me cringe, and I can't help but imagine how Lennon would sneer at the indulgent sentimentality if he could hear it.


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PostPosted: Thu June 21st, 2018, 22:02 GMT 
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Nightingale's Code wrote:
summerteeth wrote:
...it may have been tossed to the 'skip it' pile...

Unfortunately it rests in my 'skip it' pile. It feels stretched at over 7 minutes and the constant references to The Beatles make me cringe, and I can't help but imagine how Lennon would sneer at the indulgent sentimentality if he could hear it.


Lennon was not above sentimentality, especially with Double Fantasy.
"Indulgent" is a judgment call.


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2018, 00:38 GMT 
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It sure as heck ain't about Joan Baez


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PostPosted: Fri June 22nd, 2018, 01:54 GMT 
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Certainly a Tempest favorite.
There were threads at Tempest’s release around here somewhere chattering all about some of what is summarized here. I wish I had the patience to search them out and provide links.


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