Bobby Dylan has had a long-term substance abuse problem dating back to 1961. In Chronicles 2004 Dylan wrote that Ray Gooch the man whose apartment (crib) Dylan was a guest at (crashed at) for the most extended period of time when he first came to New York City was “an opium smoker…burning little kilos of bricks until they became like gum.” A kilo is 2.2 pounds and Dylan wrote that Ray was heavily armed so he was obviously a middle-echelon dealer. Dylan did not write that he sampled Ray’s product, although I believe that he did and became an opium smoker and a “joy popper” at a very early age and an addict by 1966. These lines in Tarantula may refer to Gooch, who worked in Brooklyn, and was a “non-integrationist” - a euphemism Dylan invented for segregationist: “Barbara Allen - she smuggles Moroccan cinders (a rectangular hollow building block similar to a brick) into Brooklyn twice a month & she wears a sheet - (in For Dave Glover Dylan wrote, “It’s the time a the white collar shirt an the white sheeted hood”) she takes many penicillin shots.” It is also my opinion Dylan first looked to Judaism to help him overcome this medical problem and when it failed, he turned to Christianity. When Christianity failed, or he failed it, I believe Dylan went back to his addiction.
Bob Dylan having a long-time substance abuse problem is an expression of fact as they it is based on poetic translation of lines such as “so i shoot dope once in a while. big deal. What’s it got to do with you?” (Tarantula 1966) which any moronic Dylan fan can figure out. Dylan tacitly admitted that Christianity took the place of heroin in his song about his conversion entitled, Shot Of Love: “Don’t need a shot of codeine to help me to repent / I need a shot of love (a chance to experience the truth of Christianity).” In Pressing On Dylan wrote, “Shake (lose) the dust (deception - throw dust in someone’s eyes colloquialism: To deceive them. The Indiana Prevention Resource Center drug slang dictionary defines dust as heroin) / off of your feet (from your ambitions, as in cold feet) / don’t look back / Nothing now can hold you down, nothing that you lack (Dylan became an addict to make up for something that was missing in his personality or brain chemistry) / Temptation’s not an easy thing, Adam (I hear the words “and I am”) givin’ the devil reign (Dylan has allowed evil to rule his life) / Because he sinned (because Dylan got involved with smack at an early age, also because Adam ate the apple) / I got no choice, it run in my vein (he became addicted and shot dope in his vein - also he inherited primal sin).” (Shot Of Love 1981) In 1971 John Lennon told this author that he witnessed Dylan “snorting heroin.” I am not saying that Dylan broke the law; all I am saying is that this is how I translate some of his poetry and that this is not an unreasonable translation.
There is an upside to what in my opinion was Dylan’s heroin use. The opiate high puts the user in a dream-like state, and the earliest symbolism arose from the representations of reality that occurred during the dreams of ancient man, as The Bible amply illustrates. Perhaps this is why so many poets have been attracted to opium and its derivatives such as morphine and heroin? My opinion about Dylan having a long-term substance abuse problem also accounts for the sarcasm that often appears in his poetry - Dylan’s cynicism about himself made him cynical about others. Cynicism often engenders sarcasm, which Dylan poetry is rife with. When Dylan uses overstatement or a word such as really, he is often being sarcastic.
“I come into Pittsburgh (I came to the Northeast) / At six-thirty flat (early in the morning, at the beginning of my career singing clearly unmistakable, literal songs) / I found myself a vacant seat (I found a position of eminence in the folk music world that needed an occupant) / An’ I put down my hat (and I threw my hat into the ring. This line is also “I put it down my hat” - I made it my role) / What’s the matter Molly dear (what wrong with this role Bobby dear, it should mollify you?) / What’s the matter with your mound? (what’s the matter with being buried from most of the public as a folk singer? Don’t you have a pile of money yet? Chronicles 2004: “To him, folk music glittered like a mound of gold”) / What’s it to ya, Moby Dick? (what’s your motivation in keeping me in this defeated state - to whale on somebody is to defeat them soundly) / This is chicken town (the entertainment business is a very competitive business, especially when it comes to catering to underage kids) / Lookin’ for my lo and behold (amazing talent) / Get me out here, my dear man.”
I bought my girl
A herd of moose,
One she could call her own.
Well, she came out the very next day
To see where they had flown.
I'm goin' down to Tennessee,
Get me a truck 'r somethin'.
Gonna save my money and rip it up!
Lo and behold! Lo and behold!
Lookin' for my lo and behold,
Get me outa here, my dear man!
“I bought (to acquire or procure by something given or done in exchange, literally or figuratively) / myself / A herd (a group of people usually having a common bond who think in a similar fashion) / of moose (members of a fraternal order - in this case folkies) / One day she could call her own (which, during a heyday day in Dylan’s life he could ascribe a quality to or give a name of a common noun that reflects the fact that they were his followers. In I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine Dylan wrote conversely to his former fans, “no martyr is among you now that you can call your own”) / Well, she came out the very next day (when Dylan came out as rock and roller as soon as he could) / To see where they had flown (he wondered where his former fans had moved suddenly to, and realized that they had flown the coop) / I’m goin’ down to Tennessee (Dylan gave up on them and announced in his poetry, ‘I’m going down south, to the land of slavery’) / Get me a truck (find me a connection) / or somethin’ (or something he can’t be specific about, what I believe to be heroin, morphine, codeine, etc) / Gonna save my money (sarcastic: going to keep my ability to alter social and political events in check) / and rip it up (and get really ripped on what I believe to be heroin) / Lo and behold! (a surprise and in a lower state of being beholden, obligated to someone for something) / Lookin’ for my lo and behold (looking for what in my opinion was heroin) / Get me out here, my dear man (get me out of my depression my dear - costly - man, the connection).”
Now, I come in on a ferris wheel
An' boys, I sure was slick.
I come in like a ton of bricks,
Laid a few tricks on 'em.
Goin' back to Pittsburgh,
Count up to thirty,
Round that horn and ride that herd,
Gonna thread up!
Lo and behold! Lo and behold!
Lookin' for my lo and behold,
Get me outa here, my dear man!
“Now, I come in on a ferris (Red) / wheel (I entered the music scene as a prominent revolutionary advocating a more equitable economic system) / An’ boys, I sure was slick (having surface plausibility) / I come in like a ton of bricks (with an overwhelming number of songs critical of America and overwhelmed everyone - they felt they had been hit with a “ton of bricks”) / Laid (buried the other folk singers with some tracks I laid down on tape that were) / a few tricks (songs that I composed and performed because of an ulterior motive - just like a prostitute turns tricks for money, not love) / on ‘em (on the Left and the folk community) / Goin’ back to Pittsburgh (going to make all my efforts back east - in a free environment) / Count up to thirty (I am going to the have value or significance only to those under thirty-years-old) / Round (avoid) / that horn (my previous forthrightness) / and ride (depend on) / that herd (the undistinguished masses) / Gonna thread up (continue something in a long course. Also thread as in needle and thread - going to, what in my opinion, is shoot up).” (Lo And Behold! 1967)
Close your eyes (obstruct any thoughts that you might have about politics) / close your door (be uncompromisingly obstructive to any opportunity that might avail itself to do so in the future) / You don’t have to worry (be concerned about others) / any more (any longer) / I’ll be your baby tonight (I’ll be like a babe in your arms and all of my poetry will be devoted to you during this period of night - a contemporary time of ignorance characterized by a lack of ethics).”
“Shut the light (eliminate any hope, shut out all public knowledge about what I am doing) / shut the shade (shut out any differences of opinion I might have with the power structure and law enforcement) / You don’t have to be afraid (no one will find out about us, no one will be interested in us) / I’ll be your baby tonight (I will be subservient to and dependant on, what in my opinion, was heroin during this current period of intellectual cynicism characterized by a total lack of morality).”
“Well, that mockingbird’s gonna sail away (Dylan is no longer going to be a singer who mocks, treats with contempt, the sacred institutions of America, in other words that ship of revolution as in When The Ship Comes In is going to sail away - move adroitly - into the sunset) / We’re gonna forget it / That big (conspicuously) / fat (stupid, foolish) / moon (futile attempt at being a dissident) / is gonna shine (be clear and obvious) / like a spoon (and is now going to be transformed into something that is prepared in a spoon, in my opinion, heroin. Also rhyming moon spoon and June is the height of trite) / But we’re gonna let it (but we are going to allow this to happen so that I will not draw heat to myself) / You won’t regret it (and been sorry about having chosen this path in life and wished that you had done otherwise).
Kick your shoes off (jettison your career rather than kick your drug habit) / Do not fear (show reason for alarm) / Bring that bottle over here (create songs that are restrained, bottled up as far as creativity. Also start writing songs that can be created through a certain formula - “baby’s bottle.” Finally write songs that deal with intoxication) / I’ll be your baby tonight (I’ll be subservient to the establishment in this current period of intellectual and moral night).” (I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight 1967)