Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Thunder on the Mountain

Click on the link above for "Thunder on the Mountain" from Bob Dylan's concert last Friday. Following a scriptural reference from Exodus, I'll post the lyrics (I know, I know, you don't have to say it). But for those who feel that Bob can't sing, once you have your personal epiphany and learn what he is doing - there's no turning back (just so you know that you've been warned). It's sort of like modern art. For a long time it looks like a children's Saturday afternoon paint fight (and I guess for some, modern art always remains that). But if we're willing to take a little time, a whole new world opens. Dylan is like that too. I thought he couldn't sing either (silly me). But I was so much older then. Hint: Listen to how he pronounces the words - emphasizing some vowels, as you would reading poetry. Even the sound of Dylan's voice is a clue, aging as it is. But of course, his voice has always been older than his years, even now.

One of the reasons I enjoy reading the Harry Potter books so much is that they are mysteries to solve and doing so opens us to a larger world, like C.S. Lewis does with Narnia or Tolkien does with Middle Earth - and Dylan's music is very similar (in fact, "Time Out of Mind," is a phrase from "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe," what's up with that?). The songs look deceivingly simple - like a so-called children's story - and then we discover that inside those lyrics is a whole new world to explore, along with this thing called Truth. This particular song, Thunder on the Mountain, is most certainly a post-9-11 song and written with the war on terror on the mind. Again, Dylan doesn't take the cheap political slogan route - as others may do (remember his ironic slam on Neil Young), but to the deeper struggles that the war on terror reveals.

Here is Exodus 20:18-21:

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."

Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.


Thunder on the Mountain

Thunder on the mountain, and there's fires on the moon
A ruckus in the alley and the sun will be here soon
Today's the day, gonna grab my trombone and blow
Well, there's hot stuff here and it's everywhere I go

I was thinkin' 'bout Alicia Keys, couldn't keep from crying
When she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was living down the line
I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be
I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee

Feel like my soul is beginning to expand
Look into my heart and you will sort of understand
You brought me here, now you're trying to run me away
The writing on the wall, come read it, come see what it say

Thunder on the mountain, rollin' like a drum
Gonna sleep over there, that's where the music coming from
I don't need any guide, I already know the way
Remember this, I'm your servant both night and day

The pistols are poppin' and the power is down
I'd like to try somethin' but I'm so far from town
The sun keeps shinin' and the North Wind keeps picking up speed
Gonna forget about myself for a while, gonna go out and see what others need

I've been sittin' down studyin' the art of love
I think it will fit me like a glove
I want some real good woman to do just what I say
Everybody got to wonder what's the matter with this cruel world today

Thunder on the mountain rolling to the ground
Gonna get up in the morning walk the hard road down
Some sweet day I'll stand beside my king
I wouldn't betray your love or any other thing

Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches
I'll recruit my army from the orphanages
I been to St. Herman's church, said my religious vows
I've sucked the milk out of a thousand cows

I got the porkchops, she got the pie
She ain't no angel and neither am I
Shame on your greed, shame on your wicked schemes
I'll say this, I don't give a damn about your dreams

Thunder on the mountain heavy as can be
Mean old twister bearing down on me
All the ladies in Washington scrambling to get out of town
Looks like something bad gonna happen, better roll your airplane down

Everybody going and I want to go too
Don't wanna take a chance with somebody new
I did all I could, I did it right there and then
I've already confessed - no need to confess again

Gonna make a lot of money, gonna go up north
I'll plant and I'll harvest what the earth brings forth
The hammer's on the table, the pitchfork's on the shelf
For the love of God, you ought to take pity on yourself

Dylan 2006

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