Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jokerman

Man of influence
And power doesn't know how
To fix the world.

I've written 15 haiku to "Jokerman" if I've written a single one. I can't figure out this song, and every interpretation I've read by others sounds overdone and silly. My impressions don't even form a conclusion, so ethereal is this song, which opened the 1983 album "Infidels." The haiku I finally settled on is subject to scorn and derision for how off base it probably is. Help me out, friends. I'm more than happy to rewrite this.

Standing on the waters casting your bread
While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing
Distant ships sailing into the mist
You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing
Freedom just around the corner for you
But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

- Feels like a Jesus thing here. Casting bread, walking on water. Sermon on the Mount, Galilee and so on and on.
- Idol: Satan, pagan, etc.
- Ships in the mist and freedom just around the corner but useless: pretty, melancholy images. Something ideal close, but too far away to touch.
- Snakes/hurricane: Snake like the Old Testament? Jesus triumphs over evil? Dunno.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

So swiftly the sun sets in the sky
You rise up and say goodbye to no one
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
Both of their futures, so full of dread, you don’t show one
Shedding off one more layer of skin
Keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within

- No idea. Thieves travel by night. Three days in the tomb. Resurrection.
- Fools rush in/angels, yes, no explanation needed.
- Shedding off skin - like a snake again. Is this even the same person from the first verse? Or is it some more dubious Messiah or would-be Messiah? Is this Messiah a deceiver? See next verse regarding the manipulator of crowds and the dream twister.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

You’re a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds
Manipulator of crowds, you’re a dream twister
You’re going to Sodom and Gomorrah
But what do you care? Ain’t nobody there would want to marry your sister
Friend to the martyr, a friend to the woman of shame
You look into the fiery furnace, see the rich man without any name

- Feels more like a Christ/Antichrist remix. Manipulator AND friend to martyrs, sodomites and whores, just like Jesus (not sure about the gay part).

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

Well, the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy
The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers
In the smoke of the twilight on a milk-white steed
Michelangelo indeed could’ve carved out your features
Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space
Half asleep near the stars with a small dog licking your face (I always thought this was small, dark look on your face, but what do I know)

- Old Testament + street smarts + the law of the sea.


Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

Well, the rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame
Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain
Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain
False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin
Only a matter of time ’til night comes steppin’ in

- Governments, religions and wars fought in the name of the people. It's no surprise on this verse when you listen and think about the headlines of the time. The Intifadah, the rise of modern Islamist terrorist attacks, etc. It's no surprise that the image on the "Infidels" back cover and on the "Jokerman" single features Dylan with Jerusalem in the background.

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

It’s a shadowy world, skies are slippery grey
A woman just gave birth to a prince today and dressed him in scarlet
He’ll put the priest in his pocket, put the blade to the heat
Take the motherless children off the street
And place them at the feet of a harlot
Oh, Jokerman, you know what he wants
Oh, Jokerman, you don’t show any response

- Another admixture of Jesus and something darker and more worldly. Not like I really understand though...



No comments:

Post a Comment