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Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Poet for our ears

“I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I'll die like a poet.” – Bob Dylan

“Poet” is just on the tip of the many titles that describe this songwriter, singer, artist, and writer, who also can now add “Nobel Laureate” to the list.   Dylan has been influential in popular music and culture for 6 decades.  Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when his songs chronicled social unrest.  Songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind” and "The Times They Are a-Changin’” became anthems for the American civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements.

Dylan's lyrics incorporate a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, but despite that, he says he never intended to be a spokesman; he just wanted to make good poetry and music.  “This land is your land and this land is my land, sure,” he said,  “but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway.”

For Saturday’s Poem to salute Dylan’s remarkable career (and his Nobel Prize in Literature) here are the lyrics to what some have called “The first time anyone put really good poetry on the radio.”  First recorded in 1964 by The Byrds, (check out a shortened musical version at:
Mr. Tambourine Man

(REFRAIN) Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you

Though I know that evenin’s empire has returned into the sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping
My weariness amazes me, I’m branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street’s too dead for dreaming


Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin’ ship
My senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to grip
My toes too numb to step
Wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin’
I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way
I promise to go under it


Though you might hear laughin’, spinnin’, swingin’ madly across the sun
It’s not aimed at anyone, it’s just escapin’ on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin’
And if you hear vague traces of skippin’ reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it’s just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn’t pay it any mind
It’s just a shadow you’re seein’ that he’s chasing


Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow


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