wood cat


incidents and accidents, hints and allegations

Is it actually SUPPOSED to make narrative sense? I mean, it is song lyrics.

Maybe not, but I prefer to start from the premise that they are, because it's more interesting.

Are you assuming the narrator is the same in each verse?

I was, which is perhaps not supportable, but I think it's inevitable when it's "I" and a single person.

Err, single singer.

Generally accepted, I don't know, but reading it what came to mind was a circular structure: all the verses are about different people except that the women in 1 and 7 are the same.

Entirely plausible, though I'm not entirely sure the emotional weight of it makes sense.

I think they're all different women, and verse 7 is deliberately ambiguous-- it could refer to any of them. I think it's ambiguous because even though # 7 is a particular woman, it could be any of them or even one who doesn't appear in the song at all-- each relationship has that possibility of being the one that's special, the that you miss... even if only in that particular moment.

It reminds me of A Bang on the Ear.

That would work too, and strikes me as the most likely, though with my biases I find it less interesting. =>

I will have to see if we have that Waterboys song, thanks.

Yes, we have that Waterboys song.

I always used to think it was about reincarnation -- the time period on them is clearly different -- "into dealing with slaves" in one verse and "drove that car as far as we could" in another? I think it's a very American story about two people being repeatedly reincarnated and failing to get things right between them. A bit like Katherine Kerr's first Deverry book.

I suppose it could also be an alien intelligence or goddess moving consciousness between blue-eyed women. But the reincarnation motif can also be seen more overtly in other Dylan songs like "Oh Sister" "We grew up together from the cradle to the grave, we died and were reborn..."

I love this song, and not only because without it I probably wouldn't have read Dante at sixteen.

I can think of some modern American contexts in which "dealing with slaves" would make sense, either metaphorically or literally; my interpretation was that that verse is set sometime in the late 1960s and the guy became a pimp.

Like mmcirvin, I thought the slaves were metaphorical, especially considering that I think of "cafes" as something much later in history, and none of the rest really jumped out at me as inconsistent in period.

But that would be interesting all the same.

Montague or Montagu?

Ringo Starr owned a basement flat in London on "Montagu Square."

John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived there after he left his wife - where he and Yoko used a lot of heroin and were later busted.

I surmise that this verse is about John Lennon...

"REVOLUTION was in the air"

ben urquhart

Re: Montague or Montagu?

The lyrics are straight from Dylan's own website, so I think we have to take it as Montague with an "e" . . .

This is further complicated by the fact that different versions of the song have different lyrics-- there's a demo version on some bootleg series collection that's entirely in the third person (I think), I think, and when we saw him live, he did a slightly different take on them then, too.

I may still have some lingering effects from being all feverish the other night, but I think you can make it make sense with just two women:

The woman in verse 1 is someone the singer knew as a young man, who he wanted to marry, but her parents didn't approve. so he set off for the East Coast to try to make some money.

Verses 2-6 describe a different woman: After setting out from home, the singer works as a cook, and then on a fishing boat (verse 3), and then stops into a topless place. He becomes friends with a dancer (verses 4-5), who happens to be married, lives with her and her husband for a while, until things go bad (verse 6), then he does something violent to the husband, and they split up (verse 2).

After all that, his thoughts turn back to the woman from verse 1, and verse 7 finds him heading home to see if she's still there.

That's kind of awkward, but I almost buy it. I think you could make them all be one woman, if not for the line about her parents in verse 1, which doesn't really fit with her being married when they first met.

Then again, I might still be slightly feverish...

Google claims that Montague Street is in Brooklyn, though I suppose they could've moved in-between.

I don't know if you're still feverish, but requiring verse 2 to be the only one out of chronological order does seem to be a stretch.

I think the bigger problem is that they verses 4 and 5 work a lot better if they already know each other-- for example, if she's the same woman from verse 2.

I used to live on Montague Street

Believe it or no, I used to live on Montague Street. Really. In the same building where Arthur Miller (Death of Salesman) lived. And in which penthouse apartment Andy Warhol shot one of his first films. And where his actress (now also painter and author) Mary Woronov babysat me.

Yes, it's an important street in the history of Brooklyn Heights, and the United States, for that matter. At its foot is The Promenade, and the memorial about George Washington's escape by night across the river to New Jersey, as part of the Battle of Long Island.

Montague Street is the key to the whole song. Cafes, revolution in the air.

I've written tens of thousands of words on this. Don't get me started. Music -- which music? Google for which musicians were in Brooklyn Heights when Dylan visited from Greenwich Village and the like. Revolution -- which revolutionaries?

But google some more, and you'll see that other Dylanologists have latched on tho Montague Street, and debated it.

Oh, yes, and the verse 7 woman -- in either my reincarnation theory or my alien/goddess theory this isn't the same as any of the previous woman, but the next blue-eyed woman who he believes will be there for him. I think the resonances of "all the people we used to know" and so on support that.

Also, I think it's worth considering this in the contect of "Shelter From the Storm" and "Idiot Wind" (also on Blood on the Tracks) which are also about multiple interactions of a man and a woman who may or may not be the same, in weird versions of US history, then I think you've legitimately got a theme going on.

I like the reincarnation theory, especially since we know from Pratchett that blue is the color of infinity.

Dylan's always said that you can interpret his songs any way you want to. Works for me.

This is certainly a song rich in possible interpretations, given that everybody so far seems to have a different one.


Log in