Shakespeare in the Alley - Bob Dylan's Poetics
English | MP3/128Kbps | Collection | 660 Mb
Twelve shows, about an hour each, discussing Dylan's lyrics as poetry. Each show is about one-half music, one-half commentary.
This series of 12 one-hour radio shows divides the time between commentary on the lyrics and playing Dylan singing them. Bob Dylan is the contemporary American successor of Walt Whitman, Woody Guthrie and Allan Ginsberg as a democratic poet in opposition to the elite tradition represented best by the early T. S. Eliot.
This series was aired on WETS in Johnson City, Tennessee in the fall of 2008.
NOTE: Dr. King refers to a 13th show throughout the series. I can find no record of that show ever being broadcast or, in fact, recorded by Dr. King. In fact, his website says it is "coming soon" and that site has not been updated in four years. \
Show 1: Dylan as Poet (Introduction)
Show one introduces three questions the series will address: What kind of poet is Dylan? How can we deepen our appreciation of his work? How does his poetry work? This show provides short answers to each. Later shows develop these much more fully. The song, "To Ramona," becomes the primary focus. It is a simple song in appearance with deep philosophical implications about the state of "radical solitude" in which each of us exist.
Show 2: Dylan and the Three Kings
Show 2 continues to develolp the idea of "radical solitude," focusing on "Just Like a Woman" and then turning to the question of interpretation, including a radio drama based on "The Three Kings," the liner notes to the "John Wesley Harding" album.
Show 3: The Joker and the Thief
Using songs from all five decades of Dylan's career, this show demonstrates how Dylan alternates between two artistic masks: the Joker and the Thief. He fluctuates back and forth between a Classical mode of moderation and a Romantic mode of excess. The most concise expression of these two modes is found symbolically expressed in the joker and the thief from "All Along the Watchtower." They reveal Dylan's alternation between Dionysian rebellion and Apollonian order.
Show 4: Ballads, Part I
This two part series of shows focuses on narrative songs, the form we call “ballads.” The first part looks at ballads on albums in ’63, ‘64,’ 65 and ’68. The theme of America emerges in three of these ballads: “ Motorpsycho Nightmare,” “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream,” and “As I Went Out One Morning,” where America appears as the “fairest damsel that ever did walk in chains.”
Show 5: Ballads, Part II
Show 5 is completes the sequence on Dylan's ballads. It moves from analysis of short ballads on the "John Wesley Harding" album to a close reading of two long ballads: "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" and the much more powerful and mythic "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts." It closes with a look at the incredible "A Simple Twist of Fate" which reverses the gender roles in the "Jack of Hearts." All three reveal Dylan's concerns with the human condition.
Show 6: Love Songs, Part I
This two part sequence begins by demonstrating Dylan's rejection of the phoniness of Tin Pan Alley love song as well as "protest" songs. This leads to a focus on his love songs. Some are really love song, some explore the artist/audience relationship, some are about spiritual love. This show closes with an analysis of "I Want You" as critique of popular love song tradition, with the Beatles portrayed in the final verse as "your dancing child with his Chinese suit."
Show 7: Love Songs Part II
Part II focuses on a single song, "Visions of Johanna," one of Dylan's richest and most complex songs about human longing for the eternal. The real vs. the ideal is explored as Dylan declares, "Inside the museum infinity goes up on trial." This is perhaps Dylan's finest song in the Romantic mid-sixties period, where "little boy lost" longs for the ideal.
Show 8: Myths
Dylan debunks the false myths of "true love" in "Love Sick" and American righteousness in "With God on Our Side," seeking those true myths (explored in show eight ) which lead to salvation. Dylan's central purpose is to promote the true myths which help us find our place in the eternal rather than the immediate.
Show 9: Quinntessence
Following up on the false myths in show eight, this show explores other songs which convey Dylan's quest for the eternal rather than the temporal in "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Quinn the Eskimo," and "When I Paint My Masterpiece."
Show 10: John Wesley Harding
This show focuses entirely on one album, moving through the album analyzing each song as a step in the progression from the outlaw figure of John Wesley Harding to the totally moderate family man who says, "I?ll Be Your Baby Tonight." This show builds on show three where the joker/thief dichotomy is introduced as well as the ballad shows which cover several songs on the album.
Show 11: Art/Artist/Audience in Dylan' Songs
Following up earlier references to the theme of art's relationship to the artist and his audience, this show compares Dylan's song in Romantic & Classical modes, his relationship to both folk and fine art, both popular and high culture as seen in such songs as "She Belongs to Me," "Visions of Johanna," and "When I Paint My Masterpiece."
Show 12: Dylan and the Traditions
This show explores Dylan's relationship to three traditions: modern poetry, popular song, traditional song. Dylan is indebted to all three but he tries to overcome the limitations which each tradition imposes on the artist. My conclusion: he takes the best, leaves the rest.