one of my all time favourites is 70 today. can't say hard to believe because the poor old man has not aged well. i prefer not to see or listen to him live anymore ever since his debacle at the oscars. not everyone agreed with me about his performance but i would now rather listen to his old stuff. not that i even had very many of his albums. street legal was my first dylan record and it was played to death on my little red record player. that is why changing the guard is one of my favourite dylan songs. not his most popular song and it can't really compare to blowing in the wind, watchtower, mr tambourine man but it is special to me. take a listen if you care to (mom don't think you should bother and dalene it might bring back memories of your tortured youth). i was a cruel sister and i will have to tell you more about it (sooner rather than later) but i once made her listen to leonard cohen's "bird on a wire" on repeat all the way from cape town to knysna. i think i was going through a real grunge stage and knowing how into the bee gees, donny osmond and abba she was, i thought i could change her taste in music.
quite funny when you read through the lyrics. this song, like the famous blue raincoat (click here) i had tried to work out it's meaning but never quite got it. i knew that mr zimmerman was changing from judaism to christianity but these lyrics for a 16 year old were just a bit too absurd and i remember singing along (on my own) "caught between jupiter and a bottle" instead of "apollo" (even at 16 i was showing the signs). a bit like the van morrison song "brown eyed girl" for years i thought the first line was "hey palomino" instead of "hey where did we go". silly me.
but like leonard cohen i have now done a bit more research (marvellous tool this internet) and have found out that bob is also not too clear on all the meaning of this song:-
Question: Your songs often bring us back to other times, and are filled with mythic, magical images. A song like "Changing Of The Guard" seems to take place centuries ago, with lines like "They shaved her head/she was torn between Jupiter and Apollo/a messenger arrived with a black nightingale...". How do you connect with a song like that?
Dylan:[Pause] A song like that, there's no way of knowing, after the fact, unless somebody's there to take it down in chronological order, what the motivation was behind it. [Pause] But on one level, of course, it's no different from anything else of mine. It's the same amount of metric verses like a poem. To me, like a poem. The melodies in my mind are very simple, they're very simple, they're just based on music we've all heard growing up. And that and music which went beyond that, which went back further, Elizabethan ballads and whatnot... To me, it's old. [Laughs] It's old. It's not something, with my minimal amount of talent, if you could call it that, minimum amount... To me somebody coming along now would definitely read what's out there if they're seriously concerned with being an artist who's going to still be an artist when they get to be Picasso's age. You're better off learning some music theory. You're just better off, yeah, if you want to write songs. Rather than just take a hillbilly twang, you know, and try to base it all on that. Even country music is more orchestrated than it used to be. You're better off having some feel for music that you don't have to carry in your head, that you can write down. To me those are the people who... are serious about this craft. People who go about it that way. Not people who just want to pour out their insides and they got to get a big idea out and they want to tell the world about this , sure, you can do it through a song, you always could. You can use a song for anything, you know. The world don't need any more songs.
oh dear, too late to get disheartened. i will just appreciate the true artist, poet and musician he is and wish him a very happy birthday.
for those still interested... the lyrics (poem)
Sixteen banners united over the field
Where the good shepherd grieves.
Desperate men, desperate women divided,
Spreading their wings 'neath the falling leaves.
I stepped forth from the shadows, to the marketplace,
Merchants and thieves, hungry for power, my last deal gone down.
She's smelling sweet like the meadows where she was born,
On midsummer's eve, near the tower.
The cold-blooded moon.
The captain waits above the celebration
Sending his thoughts to a beloved maid
Whose ebony face is beyond communication.
The captain is down but still believing that his love will be repaid.
They shaved her head.
She was torn between Jupiter and Apollo.
A messenger arrived with a black nightingale.
I seen her on the stairs and I couldn't help but follow,
Follow her down past the fountain where they lifted her veil.
I stumbled to my feet.
I rode past destruction in the ditches
With the stitches still mending 'neath a heart-shaped tattoo.
Renegade priests and treacherous young witches
Were handing out the flowers that I'd given to you.
The palace of mirrors
Where dog soldiers are reflected,
The endless road and the wailing of chimes,
The empty rooms where her memory is protected,
Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times.
She wakes him up
Forty-eight hours later, the sun is breaking
Near broken chains, mountain laurel and rolling rocks.
She's begging to know what measures he now will be taken.
He's pulling her down and she's clutching on to his long golden locks.
Gentleman, he said,
I don't need your organization, I've shined your shoes,
I've moved your mountains and marked your cards
But Eden is burning, either brace yourself for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards.
Peace will come
With tranquility and splendor on the wheels of fire
But will bring us no reward when her false idols fall
And cruel death surrenders with its pale ghost retreating
Between the King and the Queen of Swords.
did you know that bob is also known as elston gunn, blind boy grunt, bob landy, robert milkwood thomas, tedham porterhouse, jack frost and sergei petrov? perhaps i could try and stump john maytham this afternoon by asking him "who is tedham porterhouse?" wish i could phone in but that man scares me (another pp).
oh and while i am on a roll and for those who are not fans, listen to adele's version of his "make you feel my love". feel the love.