Saturday, June 20, 2015

Isis

Man leaves a woman,
Tomb-raids icy pyramid,
Comes back to woman.

"Forget about it, Jake, it's Egypttown."

Bob Dylan's epic song "Isis," which gave audiences a completely different mystery to ponder after "Hurricane" on the 1976 album "Desire," is one of the most curious stories that he has ever produced. The haiku focuses on the barest details of the plot. Unfortunately, there is too much here to pack it all in. Here's the rest of the story:

1. Guy marries Isis on May 5, ie, Cinco de Mayo.
2. He loses Isis pretty quickly, cuts off his hair (mourning?), rides off to the wild country in search of opportunity.
3. Arrives at high place. Darkness/light. Town divided down the middle. Guy hitches his pony on the right side, and takes his clothes to the laundry.
4. Stranger asks for a match. Guy finds him strange. Strangers asks the singer if he's looking for some easy work. Guy says he has no money. Stranger says, it's cool.
5. They head north. Guy lends stranger a blanket, guy lends the singer his promise. He says they'll be back by the fourth, which is one day BEFORE our singer married Isis.
6. Singer thinks about jewels and gold. They ride through freezing canyons and he thinks about Isis.
7. She once told him that they could try again and things would be different, but she needs his patience. She said more and better, but he can't remember what that was.
8. The men arrive at pyramids embedded in ice. The stranger says he needs to rob a corpse from them so he can make a lot of money.
9. Wind and snow. They chop through the ice. Stranger dies. Singer keeps going.
10. No body. Damn.
11. Singer puts the stranger's body IN the pyramid, the second instance in this song of time running either backwards or in a circular motion.
12. Singer returns to Isis. Sun's in his eyes and he's coming in from the East, so it must be evening, or else it's morning in a world where time runs backward.
13. She asks where he's been. He hems and haws. She asks if he'll stay. He says, OK, but only if you want me to.
14. Good lyric alert: "What drives me to you is what drives me insane." Singer reminisces about the rainy day when he married Isis. 

I have no idea whether they ended up together. It sounds like they don't. And I would be pretending if I said I knew what this song is about, but it's one of my favorite.



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