I was tired of the CDs I had in my car last night so I turned on the oldies station to see if anything good was on, and it was The Byrds version of “Mr. Tambourine Man.” I knew that their version of the song was always more popular than Dylan’s, but I had never heard it, being a Dylan fan who thinks he sings just fine, thank you. And being a Dylan fan, I thought The Byrds took out all the best lyrics and made it lugubrious with 10-string guitars. I can see now why everyone thinks it’s a druggy song.
But if you listen to the song as Bob does it, preferably the solo version from 1966 or so, you really focus on the lyrics which, in my opinion, are as evocative as something by Kerouac and make great use of word sounds and consonance. For example:
Then take me disappearing 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.
Maybe my thwarted English minor is asserting itself; maybe I should buy a CD recorded in this century. But I think that verse is awesome.