Monday, May 25, 2009

Blood On My Tracks Disc 2 Song 4

Track 4. Chimes of Freedom

Recently Murray Lerner released a time capsule bombshell documentary film entitled The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival. It chronicles the performances by Bob Dylan from 1963-64-65 at the festival. It is hard to fathom the change from the first performance, a sit down version of North Country Blues (where he looks like what he was, a very young kid engrossed in the folk idiom) to the final performance including the infamous going electric set with Maggie’s Farm, Like a Rolling Stone rattling the cages.

Bob jokes on the Scorcese Documentary No Direction Home that he went to the crossroads. That old Robert Johnson blues legend of selling your soul to the devil to be able to play “it”. When you watch this documentary the concept doesn’t seem so ridiculous.

The apex for me was not the electric set but instead the earth moving, hollering version of Chimes of Freedom that closes out the 1964 session.

After seeing this on film in that setting I now believe that Chimes of Freedom is the best song he has ever recorded which would mean it is possibly the greatest song in recorded history. How is that for over the top hyperbole!

Here it is…

Chimes Of Freedom

Far between sundown's finish an' midnight's broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An' for each an' ev'ry underdog soldier in the night
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

In the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin' rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin' constantly at stake
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An' the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an' blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an' cheated by pursuit
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Even though a cloud's white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An' the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An' for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Starry-eyed an' laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an' we watched with one last look
Spellbound an' swallowed 'til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an' worse
An' for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

If you haven’t seen the documentary the performance actually DOES THIS SONG JUSTICE.

Another Side of Bob Dylan is off the board. Slow tear falls for Ramona, Bob Dylan’s Dream, My Back Pages, I Don’t Believe You

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