Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Ballad Of A Thin Man ... Revisited & Show # 363

Originally released in 1965 as part of the Highway 61 Revisited album, "Ballad of A Thin Man" is a song that seems to be surrounded by mystery and question the very definition of what it is to be an artist and not understood by the media. The song, while in album form clocks in around six minutes, when played live (which is still being done) would stretch out to seven minutes and beyond. The song tells the story of a confused Mr. Jones who seems to be lost in a world of people of freaks, not unlike a circus in a bewildered state. Musically the song takes on a darker sophistication, featuring heavy piano, haunting organ, guitar lines that crawl in out of nowhere and a plodding drum pattern. In between all this Dylan unravels a story only like he can attacking while at the same time conveying Mr. Jones and the errors of his ways. So what is this song about? Like great literature it is left open to interpretation, but the song proves, like all of Highway 61 Revisited does that Rock music can be sophisticated and literate. It has been said by Dylan himself that there have been many “Mr. Joneses”.

Speculation has led people to claim that this song originated around the journalist/reporter Jeffery Jones, who interviewed Bob Dylan just before his infamous performance at the 1965 Newport Music Festival, where he went electric. He even claimed so in a Rolling Stone interview at one point, but Dylan had this to say about who is the alleged Mr. Jones in an interview:

"He's a pinboy. He also wears suspenders. He's a real person. You know him, but not by that name... I saw him come into the room one night and he looked like a camel. He proceeded to put his eyes in his pocket. I asked this guy who he was and he said, "That's Mr. Jones." Then I asked this cat, "Doesn't he do anything but put his eyes in his pocket?" And he told me, "He puts his nose on the ground." It's all there, it's a true story."

Anyone who listens to Dylan would come to the realization that like a lot of his songs, this one is open to interpretation. To dissect the song and analyze its meanings is perhaps the very definition of being a “Mr. Jones”. So while some may see it as an outright statement of opinion and a musicians artistic statements, it could also be seen as a song about certain people who hide behind their so called credentials, not really seeing things as they are, instead criticizing and asking why when it is not really relevant. It could also be seen as the world around Mr. Jones being a bizarre circus, because of his close minded perceptions, while in reality it is just the opposite, he is out of touch with the world around him. Then again, "Ballad of A Thin Man" could also be said to just be a great song with a story open to interpretation. It’s up to you.

This Week's Play List:

1. The Lurkers - Mass Media Believer
2. The Jam - Pretty Green
3. The Mods - Wasting My Time
4. The Dishrags - Love/Hate
5. Color Me Psycho - Black Corveir
6. The Ten Commandments - Not True
7. The Haunted - Horror Show
8. 101ers - Sweet Revenge
9. Guided By Voices - Postal Blowfish
10. Lime Spiders - 25th Hour
11. Katalina Kicks - Revolution
12. Brilliant Colors - How Much Younger
13. Deja Voodoo - Red Garlic Shoes
14. Dik Van Dykes - Obvious Filler
15. Rotten Tropics - Murky
16. The Stranglers - Outside Tokyo
17. Johnny West - A Puppet Playing Possum
18. Neil Young International Harvesters - Bound For Glory
19. Television - Marquee Moon (Alternate Version)
20. The Pagans - Not Now, No Way
21. Bob Dylan - Ballad Of A Thin Man (Live ABC Theater Edinburgh, Scotland 1966)


Nicole M said...


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