Thursday, March 1, 2007

Pound for Pound Visions of Johanna

Ain't it just like my computer to frustrate me when I'm tyin' to do something sooooo simple.

In the News Links at Expecting Rain I saw a link to a blog called Pound for Pound and some writing about Dylan's "Visions of Johanna." I went there and thought it was interesting, but also thought there were a few things worth adding to the discussion so I tried to leave a comment. For reasons I doubt Bill Gates could explain to me if I held a gun to the heads of his children the little verification window that should have had some combination of letters for me to enter was not functioning, just that little red "x" in a tiny box like the one you get to after 8 hours of searching trying to find some naked papparazzi photo that's supposed to be "all over the internet."

Anyway.... I didn't have a Google account so I thought perhaps that was the problem. I clicked on "create an account" and suddenly I was creating a blog.

All because I wanted to post the damn comment below and add to a discussion about "Visions of Johanna."

Now I'll leave them here and I cannot imagine what forces could be at work in the universe that would result in anyone ever seeing them.

But it's not like this is the first time I've wasted my time since saying "Um, yeah, sure. Let's get a computer."

The Live 66 version of that never ceases to astonish me. Those people were hearing it for the first time - there's absolutely no little burst of recognition applause at the start. What could they have thought as that song washed over them? And how can he remember all those words and be THAT high at the same time?

The pleasure in the song for me is in the tension created in each verse as you wait to find out if he can keep up the rhymes. And he's so loose within a pretty tight structure, stretching and bending lines, playing with syllable count but always keeping that 3-4-2 structure:

Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we're all doin' our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin' you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there's nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind.

"Quiet" "deny it" "defy it" followed by "loft" "cough" "soft" "off" followed by "entwined" and "my mind." Three, four and two.

In the empty lot where the ladies play blindman's bluff with the key chain
And the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the "D" train
We can hear the night watchman click his flashlight
Ask himself if it's him or them that's really insane
Louise, she's all right, she's just near
She's delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna's not here
The ghost of 'lectricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place

Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously
And when bringing her name up
He speaks of a farewell kiss to me
He's sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the wall while I'm in the hall
How can I explain?
Oh, it's so hard to get on
And these visions of Johanna, they kept me up past the dawn

And so on. Even if you're not conciously counting, the rhythm sinks in and you expect it. When he drags out a line, suggesting he's going to abandon the structure, it's downright riveting.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Hi Stan,
It's Steve again(Laura's friend). Visions is one of my all time favorite Dylan songs, and I've been a big fan since high school. That live acoustic version alone is worth the price of that CD. And I think of the live at Carnegie Hall CD in '64, when he played Gates of Eden and It's All Right Ma, for the first time. I could almost see the people in the audience looking at one another and saying "What the...????