Saturday, January 17, 2015

Belle Isle

Man in a disguise
Tempts his girlfriend to cheat, but
She proves quite faithful.

Operetta-style comedy from this song released on Dylan's 1970 album "Self Portrait." Guy spies a good-looking woman working in Scotland or Ireland or wherever Loch Eiron is (It doesn't appear to exist). He notes that she's hot, but stops short of suggestion that they get together. She says she's a poor, hard-working lass, and more's the point, she can't entertain untoward suggestions from strange men because she's promised to another and waiting for him to return from some journey somewhere. At this point, he reveals that he has come in disguise and indeed is that very same man. Naturally, he probably expects her to be overjoyed. Were I the woman in question, I would have been annoyed by this man's insistence that he could go off wherever he likes, and then be so mistrustful as to try to catch his girl out as a cheat. As it happens, we don't know how the woman responds because Dylan ends the song on the young man's removal of his disguise. That he ends the song claiming that he has been true to must have been cold comfort to the poor gal who has discovered only too late what a cretin she's been dating.

Here is the version of the song that Dylan released on the Self Portrait entry in the Bootleg Series. The version released on the 1970 album contains string orchestra overdubs, which some people complain made it saccharine. They're right, but I've grown used to it. Here is the Bootleg Series version, which is considerably stripped down.



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