Sunday, June 21, 2015

It's All Over Now Baby Blue

Guy leaves a lover
Who can't face reality.
He takes his carpet.

Speculate about the identity of "Baby Blue" all you want. Others have. Joan Baez? Dylan's fans? Bob Dylan himself? Paul Clayton? Who cares? This song, which ends the 1965 album "Bringing It All Back Home," offers its own advice about meaning in the first two lines:

"You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last
But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast."

I like to look at the words of this song in total rather than piece by piece. What do these people mean?
- The gun-toting orphan crying like a fire in the sun. (A powerful image since a fire in the sun remains dangerous, hot and bright, though nearly invisible)
- The saints who are marching in (Saints. Angels. Who knows.)
- Gamblers on the highway (implication: stay away from them. Be sensible)
- Empty-handed street painter drawing patterns on your sheets
- Seasick sailors rowing home (They've had enough)
- Reindeer armies going home (Reindeer? Don't know.)

More significant are the lover who took his blankets and the carpet as he left you, and the vagabond at your door who's looking for you while dressed in your clothes. This speaks more to me about a kind of life that the subject of the song must abandon for some reason, but has been unwilling to leave. Sooner or later, the signs become more than signs -- we all must be forced from our old lives into something new, and usually at a point where we would rather stay still. Whoever "Baby Blue" is, the clock's run out and it's time to move ahead in life, even with no help or sign that you're going the right way. The vagabond says to me that there's always someone who will take what you've been forced to lose, and it's shameful to see things that don't belong to you anymore in the hands of others. As for the line, "Forget the dead you've left, they will not follow you," it's grim, but it should appear on every coffee mug and greeting card.



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