“One More Cup of Coffee is the Dylan track I tend to dig out when somebody feels compelled to tell me he can’t sing. Really? I’d like hear you or anybody you know do what he does in this one, the way he waivers just so, like something out of lost centuries, forgotten languages. The arrangement helps, of course, that wandering fiddle, the whip sharpness of the drums. And what’s the song about beyond a visit to the local Starbucks? The stuff of those lost centuries, I suppose, by way of his then current marital woes, reflections of self seen in distorted mirrors … and hearts like oceans, mysterious and dark. And then there’s my neighbour Motron’s theory that it concerns the Jason Robards character from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West. Because you may be bound for hell itself, but there’s always time for one more cup of coffee.” (Philip Random)
Technically, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue shouldn’t be on this list as its recording precedes the Like A Rolling Stone snare shot that allegedly gave impetus to the apocalypse in question. But such is the nature of a rupture in the space-time continuum, there’s often an implosion-like suck that throws key details of the recent past forward, mixes them up with the various smithereens currently floating around. Thus, we find yonder orphan with his gun crying like a fire in the sun. It makes perfect sense if you’ve got the right kind of eyes, and ears. Also worth noting: It’s All Over Now Baby Blue is the solo acoustic piece that young Bob Dylan chose to calm the crowd after his legendary electric set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival went so horribly wrong/right. No serious apology intended.
Tombstone Blues being found immediately after Like a Rolling Stone on Bob Dylan’s sixth album, Highway 61 Revisited, the one that changed everything forever. Philip Random remains in awe of the mad precision of its poetry. “Lately it’s been the geometry of innocent flesh on the bone causing Galileo’s math book to get thrown. But maybe six months ago, it was the king of the Philistines, his soldiers putting jawbones on their tombstones and flattering their graves. Back in the early 1980s, it was definitely John the Baptist (after torturing a thief) looking up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief, saying, tell me great hero, but please make it brief, is there a hole for me to get sick in? In other words, yeah it’s all just Dada, but it’s a fine and enduring Dada, still very much alive, mercurial even. Particularly if you’re driving long distances, gobbling dexedrine, smoothing the edges with cheap red wine, you hit the Pacific coast at sunset, northern California somewhere, take some pictures but for some reason all you’ve got is black + white film. So the moment is captured without pigment, the sky pure white, like an atomic bomb. Which is more or less accurate, I think. If the world didn’t end in 1965 when Dylan released Highway 61, then it was June 1989, and I have pictures to prove it.”
“Isis is one of the songs that forever ensnared me in the mystique of the guy known as Bob Dylan, starting with late night radio in my teen years, floating strangely past as I slipped into my dreams, doing its bit to inform them. And like those dreams, I still couldn’t tell you what it’s about. A journey, I guess, but to who knows where? Maybe that’s the point. It’s about infinity, eternity, the stories found within stories found within stories, snakes eating their tales, a goddess called Isis … and the falling out of love. The live version from the Rolling Thunder era is pretty damned strong, but I prefer the more restrained original, found on Desire. It just seems to go further.” (Philip Random)
Speaking of the Basement Tapes, here we have Mr. Robert Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan) and the band known as The Band (circa 1967) trading verses, talking about what seems to be the overall problem inherent in the downside of prolonged psychedelic (and other) amplification and expansion of one’s mind, body and soul. What do you do with all that nothing you’re feeling? In the end, maybe just sing the blues.