Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Exegetin' With Bob

Oh where have you been my blue-eyed son
Oh where have you been my darling young one
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it's hard and it's hard and it's hard and it's hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall -- "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall," Bob Dylan

Last night I saw the first PBS installment of No Direction Home, Martin Scorcese's bio of Bob Dylan; it's a great film. At one point in the film Dylan is giving a radio interview -- I think with Studs Terkel -- about the song "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" . Terkel begins, and I'm paraphrasing: So you've written this song about atomic rain. Dylan interrupts him; no, it's not about atomic rain. Terkel: It's not about atomic rain? Dylan, impatiently: It's about a hard rain.

As I'm preparing for a weekend of exegetically dissecting the prophets, I wonder how many of them, and the other poets who wrote the texts in Scripture, would listen to our classes, and read our commentaries, and say, No; it's not about that. You're overthinking it. Just listen.


bls said...

I saw parts of this, and what I saw was great. Hope to watch the whole thing at some point.

Dylan did seem to be having problems with the questions asked at press conferences, didn't he? I think everybody wanted to label him, and he didn't want to accept the labels.

LutheranChik said...

And some of those questions were sooooo lame. It's interesting comparing Dylan's bemused reaction with, say, John Lennon's quick-witted responses to the idiot questions directed at him.

But my impression is that Dylan was/is surprised by his own lyrics, as if he's channeling them. I don't know if you saw this part of the film -- Dylan is standing by a storefront, reading the signs outside the store, and riffing off the words, playing with them, mixing them up...associations just come pouring out of him. It was a real insight into his creative process.