Monday, May 24, 2021

BOB TURNS 80, APPROXIMATELY

Bob Dylan has turned 80, a fact that stuns even us fans who are well into their late 60s and early 70s. The debate about the man and the worth of his contribution to world culture will continue for sometime, I think, at least as long as audiences read books and listen to music and think, collectively, that conversations as to why the arts are important remain a human  activity . We can , to be sure, blow the whole gig and  allow things to get worse under the collectively delusional rationale that things will eventually get better if we just sit back and let the neighbors take their turn to save (or not save) the world. But happy birthday to Mister z. all the same.  

Lately, considering this list, I've been attracted again to "Queen Jane Approximately", one of Dylan's best "list-making" songs. Perhaps the lament, the plea, or the wishful thinking of a rejected suitor who holds out chance that hope remains for an unrequited love, the lyrics are an inventory of future interpersonal failures, the collapse of a vision of the world where the demands and commands upon someone who'd considered themselves at a regal remove from the rest of the community become too much and give way. Being the center of the universe is too much because the gravity will eventually crush you. And the suitor's offer stands, won't you come see me Queen Jane? The language is a splendid balance between comprehensible plain speak and Dylan's penchant for surreal-izing the details ; this makes the situation plain as glass yet quaintly familiar. 

And the fact the guitar and piano sound a bit sour, out of tune (perhaps) adds to the alluring strangeness. This is a happens at an intersection of Desolation and Row and 4th Street, an angular, cubist terrain.

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