Johnny`s in the basement mixing up the medicine
I`m on the pavement thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat, badge out, laid off
Say`s he`s got a bad cough, wants to get it paid off
Look out kid, it`s somethin` you did
God knows when, but you`re doin` it again
You better duck down the alleyway, lookin` for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap in the big pen wants eleven
Dollar bills, you only got ten.
Maggie comes fleet foot, face full of black soot
Talkin` that the heat put, plants in the bed but
The phone`s tapped anyway, Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May, orders from the DA
Look out kid, don`t matter what you did
Walk on your tiptoes, don`t try `No Doz`
Better stay away from those that carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose, watch the plain clothes
You don`t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.
Get sick, get well, hang around an ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell if anything is goin` to sell
Try hard, get barred, get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail, join the army if you fail
Look out kid, you`re gonna to get hit
But losers cheaters, six times users hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool lookin` for a new fool
Don`t follow leaders, watch the parking meters.
Ah, get born, keep warm, short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed, try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts, don`t steal, don`t lift
Twenty years of schoolin`, and they put you on the day shift
Look out kid, they keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole, light yourself a candle
Don`t wear sandals, try to avoid the scandals
Don`t want to be a bum, you better chew gum
The pump don`t work `cos the vandals took the handles.
I guess it`s impossible to over emphasize the impact Bob Dylan has had on popular culture. To my eternal shame, he didn`t really appear on my radar until my late teens, when , for some reason I now can`t remember, I asked my mother to buy me his three revolutionary electric albums from the mid-sixties for Christmas. What I heard just blew me out of the water: it was obvious that Dylan didn`t write lyrics to his music, he wrote high octane, high concept poetry of the like I had never heard before. He was out there exploring the distant edge of the Solar System of the written art, while everyone else were still pootling about, scratching the dirt on planet Earth with the amoeba, and other single cell organisms. When you listen to modern Rap and it`s various offshoots, go back to the glorious extravaganza of words and musical structure that is Subterranean Homesick Blues: it crackles and shoots it`s verbal bullets at you like a demented scatter gun high on acid. It`s immediate, propulsive, and rhythmically in your face, which connects in one glorious instance, “talking” blues with street culture; the song`s promotional film has become an iconic landmark in rock video language.
“Chaos is a close friend of mine..Truth is chaos. Maybe beauty is chaos.”
Dylan`s musings on chaos evokes the perfect image for his song: it tiptoes, almost teetering along the dizzying edge of disintegration, as it spits out line, after razor sharp, observational line about the inhabitants of a world that`s become a mechanistic, schizophrenic eater of souls; which sucks people into it`s gaping maw, consuming the life force of their humanity in order to sustain it`s own existence. The hopes and aspirations of the young are sacrificed to a system which needs the constant replenishment of human fodder to maintain it`s control and manipulation of society. Dylan tells the kid to, “get hid,” and “jump down a manhole.” The machine`s eyes and ears are everywhere, forever searching, and scouring the landscape for it`s prey: hide kid, reinvent yourself, morph into another life form the machine doesn`t recognize as food; if you don`t, you just get absorbed by the system`s needs. Good Luck!