Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by onlyconnect, Nov 6, 2017.
no idea what the lyrics mean, nor do i care
I don't think anyone has yet commented on the music and the sound. I remember reading a contemporary review that compared the song to a lighter-textured "Changing of the Guards," and I agree. The subtle accompaniment reflects the mysterious, visionary nature of the lyrics and allows Dylan's vocals room to breathe. I always wished Dylan recorded more songs like this, particularly in latter years, which would suit his present voice.
I think that's the most political verse, as Jokerman is a politician who might draw support from Sodom and Gomorrah, even though he doesn't have a connection to them in a meaningful way. He also draws political support by seeking to identify himself with a certain martyr, yet punishes a rich man by throwing him into the fiery furnace merely for being rich rather than for religious reasons. This is in contrast to King Nebuchadnezzar trying to kill Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by throwing them into the fiery furnace for not obeying the decree to worship a golden image. Jokerman punishes the rich because it gives him political power. Jokerman doesn't have a meaningful connection to Sodom, Gomorrah, or the name of the rich man because they are trivial concerns that only serve to add to his political power.
In this song, Dylan is concerned both with Jokerman's passive attitude about freedom and truth and with his visiting a place that he has no real personal stake in other than garnering political power.
To me it is a very interesting song, that may or may not make any sense to some. It is my favorite song of his from the 80’s.
There's a link on expectingrain.com to transcriptions of "Jokerman" and "Man of Peace" (among other songs) from the Tulsa collection. The transcriptions are made by one Doc Yoder. On first glance, the transcripts look very interesting.
An example of a deleted draft verse:
suffering like a madman from unscrupilous affairs . . . moonlighting in the streets - reading ancient prayers - reciting keats & shelley your life has been just a series of breaths - youve kicked in the teeth of hamlet & macbeth & youve played machiavelli drunk, standing in the middle of the street directing traffic xxx with a small dog at your feet
More Back Pages: Dylan Archive Transcriptions
Hi, I'm Doc Yoder -- Paul, actually. Doc is my teaching persona. One of the most interesting things I'm learning from the Archive is about Bob's method. He actually makes lists of rhyming words and builds the songs around those. I'm still not sure how Alexander Pope finds his way into "Jokerman" ("fools rush in where Angels fear to tread"), but he first shows up at the Ritz Carlton. I'm convinced Bob finally looked up the quotation because he kept getting it wrong over several drafts. LOTS of fun.
Well, folks. I just got an email from the Dylan Archive requesting that I take down my transcriptions, so those will no longer be available online. I have requested clarification on how I can use the transcription without violating fair use.
Damn it. I missed it. That little Jokerman snip is very interesting.
(I would think something like this would only stoke interest in Dylan, but what do I know .............)
Damn! I hope maybe there’s some kind of agreement or compromise that you can come to with those ‘in charge’. What I have had time to peruse on your website is very interesting and I think you are (were) onto to some very ineresting finds. Hoping to see more from you in the future. Good luck, man!
I love the song...
It has a number of possible meanings from the perspective you look.
I clearly see a strong Jesus factor at work. Let's take a look, this is about four years
in to his walk with God and that is about the time, if not sooner when the cares of
this life, and some apathy creeps in. It becomes easier than ever to second question certain
things... Reading these lines, I see Dylan not doubting Christ, but in fact, reaffirming
He realizes this Messiah works in the most mysterious ways..
Dylan studied to show himself approved, a workman who is not ashamed of his faith.
He dances to the eternal will of the Father..
He explained in parables that he would depart, and they would be confounded..
He shed the old man skin.. human flesh, taking the rightful position of Lord..
He warned the preachers of filthy lucre.. not all that say Lord, Lord..
It's all there, and a masterpiece.
and, Glory to God for allowing me to hold this for now...
Ian McLagan just may have had the inside info -- Mac said that one time on the tour, he and Bob were drinking together, and Mac was able to have a long conversation with him where he said he was able to ask Bob everything about his songs and what they were really about, everything he'd always wanted to ask Bob about. But Mac said the next day, he couldn't remember any of it because they'd drunk too much. To his regret, he knew he'd never get another chance to ask all those questions again.
But Mac might have remembered the odd snippet of info out of that long night of drinking, so it's possible that Dylan did tell him that Jokerman is about Reagan.
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