Sunday, May 10, 2015

Dirge

She sings freedom songs
And he hates the slavery
Of needing her love.

"In this age of fiberglass, I'm searching for a gem." Whoever the gem is, you won't find him or her in this song. This was a quickie, recorded with Bob (I think) on piano and Robbie Robertson on a prickly acoustic guitar for the 1974 album "Planet Waves." Its original title is "Dirge for Martha," but I don't know who Martha is. Self loathing starts and ends the song, with Dylan singing, "I hate myself for loving you and the weakness that it showed," and ends with "I hate myself for loving you, but I should soon get over that." The repeated up-and-down minor-key melody of the piano and Robertson's angry-Spaniard licks on the guitar are brilliant. The song sometimes feels like a collection of great phrases, any one of which would make an acrid cross-stitch homily to hang on any room in the house where you want people to feel alienated:

- You were just a painted face on a trip down Suicide Road.
- I hate the foolish game we played and the need that was expressed, and the mercy that you showed to me...
- Heard your songs of freedom and man forever stripped, acting out his folly while his back is being whipped.
- I've paid the price for solitude, but at least I'm out of debt.
- Can't recall a useful thing you ever did for me, except pat me on the back one time when I was on my knees.

Music for parties.



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