Monday, January 19, 2015

Black Diamond Bay

Earthquake kills the guests
At tropical resort. Bob
Couldn't care at all.

Bob brings a cinematic scope to "Black Diamond Bay," the penultimate song on the 1976 album "Desire." A bunch of preoccupied, neurotic international types whom you would expect to find in a Graham Greene novel get up to various pointless activities before a volcano blows and an earthquake visits destruction on this tropical resort island. The whole place vanishes from the earth, leaving a Panama hat worn by the woman we meet in the first verse, and a pair of old Greek shoes, presumably worn by the Greek man we meet in verse two (who's mistaken by the woman for the Soviet ambassador), who showed up at the front desk to ask for rope (suicide) and a pen (note).

There's a ton of activity going on here, and if you want a thorough rumination on WHAT IT ALL MEANS, I recommend reading Tony Attwood's blog post at Untold Dylan. He might be right or wrong, and probably is both at times, but he's entertaining and fun to read. The summary is here:

1. Woman with a presumably false passport hangs out on the veranda, her past eluded at last. The last ship leaves Black Diamond Bay.
2. The Greek asks for his last implements. The desk clerk with the fez seems to realize that he's up to no good. We have the Soviet ambassador moment.
3. Thunderstorm, power outage. Soldier buys a ring from a midget, while the losing gambler in the casino seeks another deck of cards, only to be told to wait by the dealer.
4. Soldier tries to give the woman the ring; she won't take it. She visits the Greek who is busy hanging himself so he won't let her in. At some point, we can guess that the earthquake is happening, but all we get at this point is the volcano as the woman tries to escape and the soldier and the little person freak out. The desk clerk seems to have seen this all happen before.
5. The island starts sinking, the woman is praying, and a stranger says he loves her. The loser wins at cards just a bit too late to spend the money, as the dealer notes.
6. Bob's at home watching Walter Cronkite read the news, and hears about the whole thing. He gets another beer after turning off the news as he couldn't care less.




1 comment:

  1. Hello Robert, yes an interesting slice of musical history from Bob Dylan's Music Box http://thebobdylanproject.com/Song/id/74/Black-Diamond-Bay . Lift the lid and join us inside to listen to every version of every song composed or performed by Bob Dylan.

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