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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sorry I Asked.

While driving to work this morning I listened to "Black Diamond Bay" by Bob Dylan.  My music is always set to shuffle so it was a pleasant surprise.  The song dissects the last days of several people and the fictional resort island they are visiting.  It is filled with odd twists and takes several bizarre turns.  One of the characters (the Greek) came to island to commit suicide and actually kills himself as the entire island is dying.

From one frantic scene to the next Dylan sends you tumultuously through the last hours of disparate lives ending tragically.  It is a song that provides a lot of imagery and fascinating character interplay.

It all starts with an aging woman, you never learn much about her, but the descriptive text leaves you guessing, and wondering.

"Up on the white veranda
She wears a necktie and a Panama Hat,
Her passport shows a face
From another time and place
She looks nothing like that."

Moves quickly to an aging gentleman from Greece who is there to end his own life.

"While the morning light breaks open,
The Greek comes down and he asks for a rope,
And a pen that will write,
Pardon Monsieur," the desk clerk says
And carefully removes his Fez,
"Am I hearing you right?"

In a short song you start to identify with the characters.

"And as the island slowly sank,
The loser finally broke the bank, in the gambling room,
The dealer said it's too late now,
you can take your money, but, I don't know how
You're going to spend it in the tomb."

And it ends with the finality that only Dylan can bring to such a wild ride.

"I was sitting home alone one night, in LA
Watching old Cronkite on the seven o clock news
It seems there was an earthquake that
Left nothing but a Panama hat
And a pair of old Greek shoes
Didn't seem like much was happening
So I turned it off and went to grab another beer
It seems like every time you turn around
There is another hard luck story that you're gonna here
And there's really nothing anyone can say
And I never did plan to go anyway,
To Black Diamond Bay.

Maybe it was too much coffee.  Maybe a lack of sleep, but I was convinced this song held the secret to a happy life.  How do you discover the meaning.  Wait, Siri to the rescue.  "Siri, is this song the ultimate answer to life?"

After a long, uncomfortable pause, followed by a low, pained groan Siri said, "it is a good song, Tim, but you are looking for too much.  Obviously, Dylan was exploring his boundaries as a playwright, in fact the entire album "Desire" is filled with imagery designed with stage direction in mind."

"If you are looking for a metaphor for the existence of mankind, I would choose something from "War Child" by Jethro Tull.  "Two Fingers" might be good, but it may be too focused on the quest for redemption, and the urge to justify a life of excesses.  The first lines offer some proof;

'I'll see you at the weighing in,
When your life's sum-totals weighed
And you set your wealth of goodly deeds
Against the sins you've laid.'

"In fact," Siri continued, "many people feel the entire album is riddled with overtly Christian references, and is too heavy handed to be enjoyable.  However, I find comfort in the possibilities of divinity and a more noble purpose.  But, I digress.  If you really want to find an explanation for life in song (and you must, because you are always going on and on about it) you need look no further than "Bungle in the Jungle."  It sums up the entire human existence through the interplay of animals in the jungle.  It is really quite fascinating;

'Walking through forest of palm tree apartments,
Scoff at the monkeys who live in their dark tents,
Down by the waterhole, drunk every Friday,
Eating their nuts, saving their raisins for Sunday,
Lions and tigers who wait in the shadows,
Their fast but their lazy and sleep in green meadows."

"You see, all through the song there is a delightful interplay between the strong and the weak, those in power and those being ruled.  It is a fantastic journey through life."

By then I was at work and thought it was over, and then I had to put up with this.