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Mr. Tambourine Man

  1. Jul 15, 2005 #1
    My english professor challenged the class to write an explication paper on Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan. I don't know if this even falls under "Philosophy," but after listening to the song 10-15 times, I think there's a philosophical meaning behind it...

    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

    Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand,
    Vanished from my hand,
    Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.
    My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet,
    I have no one to meet
    And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.

    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

    Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship,
    My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip,
    My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
    To be wanderin'.
    I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
    Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way,
    I promise to go under it.

    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

    Though you might hear laughin', spinnin', swingin' madly across the sun,
    It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run
    And but for the sky there are no fences facin'.
    And if you hear vague traces of skippin' reels of rhyme
    To your tambourine in time, it's just a ragged clown behind,
    I wouldn't pay it any mind, it's just a shadow you're
    Seein' that he's chasing.

    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

    Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind,
    Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
    The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
    Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
    Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
    Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
    With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
    Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.


    At first, I thought, as most people would think, that the song was about drugs, but I found out that Dylan himself said that the song has nothing to do with drugs. Could this song be about transendence and enlightenment? I'm stuck...

    Thanks for any help...

    Chuong
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2005 #2
    Well, it could be about almost anything. Different people can listen to the same song and extract different meanings from it. That's why a lot of artists don't like to reveal what they actually wrote the song about... they leave it open to interpretation so different people can find their own meaning to the song that relates to their life somehow.

    That said, I'm sure most of the people in your class will come up with the "drug" meaning, so I would try to be a little more creative. The transendence and enlightenment meaning you mentioned would work well.
     
  4. Jul 21, 2005 #3
    I'm not trying to derail this thread, but you all should know- William Shatner
    (yes, Capt. Kirk) sings a version of this song and I almost ended up in the
    hospital for laughing too hard when I heard it. I special-ordered the CD as soon as I could.
     
  5. Jul 21, 2005 #4
    The time it was made, the American youth were questioning everything, so many political and social things didn't make sense. The adults could no longer answer the questions we had.
    America had lost the innocents of the 1950's and was zooming into the 21 century with seemingly no direction or control.
    And once you saw all the insanity around you, you had to figure out some kind of perspective. So you looked inward,to find some type of balance, and even that became overwhelming and mentally weary to some.
    To me that is what the song was about.
     
  6. Jul 21, 2005 #5

    loseyourname

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    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Are you a student at Cal Poly? I found a link to a lecture on this song from an English class there in 1999. It could give you some ideas, without giving you anything to plagiarize:

    http://cla.calpoly.edu/~smarx/courses/253/Dylan/Dylan.html
     
  7. Jul 21, 2005 #6
    basically its a metaphor for buying drugs

    tambourine man = drug dealer

    obviously its more in depth and meaningful than that but on the most basic below the surface level thats it.
     
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