One of the recurring themes in David Kinney’s The Dylanologists is how Dylan’s fans and followers are forever trying to figure him out. Who is the real Bob Dylan? Some have read the books and studied the lyrics, but have even gone further. This weekend while at the Howard Street Booksellers during Dylan Days in Hibbing I came across Alan Weberman’s concordance of the words of Bob Dylan’s songs.
In my experience, a concordance is a reference tool that Bible scholars use, the most famous being Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, which included interpretations of the original Greek and Hebrew words of Scripture. The very idea of a Dylan-themed index to his lyrics struck me as somewhat far out. But then again, if one uses it as a tool, and does not imply any equivalence in import between Dylan’s words and the Bible, then I can accept such a volume. My guess is that it’s a very small audience that this book is written for.
Even with all these tools, the task of “who he is” has to be an impossibility. As Kinney concludes near the end of his book, Dylan goes out of his way to hide himself. “Dylan… preferred to leave people wondering. He preferred the mask. You could even argue that Dylan considered the mask the point of the whole enterprise.”
Even his autobiographical Chronicles is rife with deceptions, according to sources I cannot at this time reveal.
I get asked from time to time which is my favorite Dylan song, and I laugh. Not possible to list one. I do, however, have lists of favorites. Favorite acoustic, favorite lyrics, favorites that get most played over the years, favorite live versions, favorites for their significance…. Series of Dreams would make a few lists. It has certainly received plenty of playtime in my life. What impresses me in part is how the music conveys the hauntedness of the lyrics. Both — music and lyrics — emerge and merge in surrealistic streams from a nebulous center somewhere in the deep places of Dylan’s soul, and connect with my own deep places.
The poetic phrasings are woven throughout with an originality that is completely Dylan. Who else would write a song like this? “I was thinking of a series of dreams…” From this matter of fact opening statement everything flows out. It’s a mature Dylan making life observations from a place further down the road.
I, too, relate to this imagery because there is an unreal quality to dreams, and in this instance, to memory and ultimately life. There are times, when one is older, that our memories and experiences are something akin to a series of dreams made of tissue being disintegrated by time. And like the images in the song we try to grasp their meanings which, like dreams, are uniquely our own and not always understood, if there are meanings at all.
While preparing for a book signing in Tampa a couple months ago it dawned on me that my own writing career began with a series of dreams. Like many of us I found my dreams fascinating and in seventh grade I decided to begin recording my dreams. My justification may have been that my dreams were more interesting than my real life. As time went on my ability to recollect these subterranean subconscious experiences became very advanced. I could recall up to five fully developed episodes and record them in detail upon waking.
This habit of writing out my dreams resulted in a daily discipline of putting words on paper. After college I began a regular journal, and in 2007 this daily habit morphed into my Ennyman’s Territory blog. But it began with…
A Series of Dreams
Lyrics: Bob Dylan
I was thinking of a series of dreams
Where nothing comes up to the top
Everything stays down where it’s rooted
And comes to a permanent stop
Wasn’t thinking of anything specific
Like in a dream, where someone wakes up and screams
Nothing too very scientific
Just thinking of a series of dreams.
See the complete lyrics here at BobDylan.com.
Copyright SPECIAL RIDER MUSIC
Originally published at https://pioneerproductions.blogspot.com.