World Gone Wrong (1993)
A hardcover compendium containing lyrics from his first album, Bob Dylan, to 2001's "Love and Theft".Buy
About the Songs
(what they're about)
BROKE DOWN ENGINE is a Blind Willie Mctell masterpiece. it's about trains, mystery on the rails -- the train of love, the train that carried my girl from town -- The Southern Pacific, Baltimore & Ohio whatever -- it's about variations of human longing -- the low hum in meter & syllables. it's about dupes of commerce & politics colliding on tracks, not being pushed around by ordinary standards. it's about revival, getting a new lease on life, not just posing there -- paint chipped & flaked, mattress bare, single bulb swinging above the bed. it's about Ambiguity, the fortunes of the privilege elite, flood control -- watching the red dawn not bothering to dress.
LOVE HENRY is a "traditionalist" ballad. Tom Paley used to do it. a perverse tale. Henry -- modern corporate man off some foreign boat, unable to handle his "psychosis" responsible for organizing the Intelligentsia, disarming the people, an infantile sensualist -- white teeth, wide smile, lotza money, kowtow to fairy queen exploiters & corrupt religious establishments, career minded, limousine double parked, imposing his will & dishonest garbage in popular magazines. he lays his head on a pillow of down & falls asleep. he shoulda known better, he must've had a hearing problem.
STACK A LEE is Frank Hutchinson's version. what does the song say exactly? it says no man gains immortality thru public acclaim. truth is shadowy. in the pre-postindustrial age, victims of violence were allowed (in fact it was their duty) to be judges over their offenders -- parents were punished for their children's crimes (we've come a long way since then) the song says that a man's hat is his crown. futurologists would insist it's a matter of taste. they say "let's sleep on it" but theory already living in the sanitarium. No Rights Without Duty is the name of the game & fame is a trick. playing for time is only horsing around. Stack's in a cell, no wall phone. he is not some egotistical degraded existentialist dionysian idiot, neither does he represent any alternative lifestyle scam (give me a thousand acres of tractable land & all the gang members that exist & you'll see the Authentic alternative lifestyle, the Agrarian one) Billy didn't have an insurance plan, didn't get airsick yet his ghost is more real & genuine than all the dead souls on the boob tube -- a monumental epic of blunder & misunderstanding. a romance tale without the cupidity.
BLOOD IN MY EYES is one of two songs done by the Mississippi Sheiks, a little known de facto group whom in their former glory must've been something to behold. rebellion against routine seems to be their strong theme. all their songs are raw to the bone & are faultlessly made for these modern times (the New Dark Ages) nothing effete about the Mississippi Sheiks.
WORLD GONE WRONG is also by them & goes against cultural policy. "strange things are happening like never before" strange things alright -- strange things like courage becoming befuddled & nonfundamental. evil charlatans masquerading in pullover vests & tuxedos talking gobbledygook, monstrous pompous superficial pageantry parading down lonely streets on limited access highways. strange things indeed -- irrationalist bimbos & bozos, the stuff of legend, coming in from left field -- infamy on the landscape -- "pray to the Good Lord" hit the light switch!
JACK-A-ROE is another Tom Paley ballad (Tom, one of the original New Lost City Ramblers) the young virgin follows her heart (which can't be confined) & in it the secrets of the universe. "there was a wealthy merchant" wealthy & philosophically influential perhaps with an odd penchant for young folk. the song cannot be categorized -- is worlds away from reality but "gets inside" reality anyway & strips it of its steel and concrete. inverted symmetry, legally stateless, traveling under a false passport. "before you step on board, sir..." are you any good at what you do? submerge you personality.
DELIA is one sad tale-two or more versions mixed into one. the song has no middle range, comes whipping around the corner, seems to be about counterfeit loyalty. Delia herself, no Queen Gertrude, Elizabeth 1 or even Evita Peron, doesn't ride a Harley Davidson across the desert highway, doesn't need a blood change & would never go on a shopping spree. the guy in the courthouse sounds like a pimp in primary colors. he's not interested in mosques on the temple mount, armageddon or world war 111, doesn't put his face in his knees & weep & wears no dunce hat, makes no apology & is doomed to obscurity. does this song have rectitude? you bet. toleration of the unacceptable leads to the last round-up. the singer's not talking from a head full of booze.
Jerry Garcia showed me TWO SOLDIERS (Hazel & Alice do it pretty similar) a battle song extraordinaire, some dragoon officer's epaulettes laying liquid in the mud, physical plunge into Limitationville, war dominated by finance (lending money for interest being a nauseating & revolting thing) love is not collateral. hittin' em where they ain't (in the imperfect state that they're in) America when Mother was the queen of Her heart, before Charlie Chaplin, before the Wild One, before the Children of the Sun -- before the celestial grunge, before the insane world of entertainment exploded in our faces -- before all the ancient & honorable artillery had been taken out of the city, learning to go forward by turning back the clock, stopping the mind from thinking in hours, firing a few random shots at the face of time.
RAGGED & DIRTY one of the Willie Browns did this -- schmaltz & pickled herring, stuffed cabbage, heavy moral vocabulary -- sweetness & sentiment, house rocking, superior beauty, not just standing there -- the seductive magic of the thumbs up salute, carefully thought out overtones & stepping sideways, the idols of human worship paying thru the nose, lords of the illogical in smoking jackets, sufferers from a weak education, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle -- taking stupid chances -- being mistreated only just so far.
LONE PILGRIM is from an old Doc Watson record. what attracts me to the song is how the lunacy of trying to fool the self is set aside at some given point. salvation & the needs of mankind are prominent & hegemony takes a breathing spell. "my soul flew to mansions on high" what's essentially true is virtual reality. technology to wipe out truth is now available. not everybody can afford it but it's available. when the cost comes down look out! there wont be songs like these anymore. factually there aren't any now.
by the way, don't be bewildered by the Never Ending Tour chatter. there was a Never Ending Tour but it ended in '91 with the departure of guitarist G.E. Smith. that one's long gone but there have been many others since then. The Money Never Runs Out Tour (fall of '91) Southern Sympathizer Tour (early '92) Why Do You Look At Me So Strangley Tour (European '92) The One Sad Cry of Pity Tour (Australia & West Coast America '92) Principles Of Action Tour (Mexico -- South American '92) Outburst Of Consciousness Tour ('92) Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Tour('93) & others too many to mention each with their own character & design. to know which was which consult the playlists.
-- Bob Dylan
Produced by Bob Dylan
Recorded and mixed by Micajah Ryan
Guitar, Vocals and harmonica performed by Bob Dylan
Mastered by Stephen Marcussen at Precision Mastering, LA
Design -- Nancy Donald
Photos by Ana Maria Velez
Back cover photo by Randee St. Nicholas
All songs traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan
(ASCAP), published by Special Rider Music
except "Lone Pilgrim" written by B.F. White & Adger M. Pace (publisher and performance rights society unknown.)