Desolation Row –
Bob Dylan’s poetic letter from 1965
By Jochen Markhorst
Independently Published – £7.00/$8.98
If a song moves you, that’s all that’s important. I don’t have to know what a song means. I’ve written all kinds of things into my songs. And I’m not going to worry about it – what it all means. (…) But it sounds good. And you want your songs to sound good.
(Bob Dylan – 2017)
No more pastoral desires for a sweet girl in the North Country, no provincial hoboes roaming down the highway, lyrical nature impressions of flickering freedom bells, nor motor psychic nightmares in the countryside – this is Big City Poetry, these are lyrical eruptions on the cadence of a shaking and rattling subway car.
(‘I’m going back to New York City’)
Desolation Row – both the song and this book – is indeed Big City Poetry.
It also arrives replete with ‘’lyrical eruptions on the cadence of a shaking and rattling subway car.’’ And all the better for it.
In fact reading Desolation Row is akin to a re-cleansing of what one already knows of the Bob Dylan masterpiece.
By way of analytical assessment, the Dutch author, Jochen Markhorst, has herein reinvigorated the mildly dusty tombs of semi-kinetic knowledge; while in so doing, taking nigh every Dylan fan on a sparkling roller-coaster ride of rambunctious reintroduction.
As such, it’s all here for the effervescent taking.
Not to mention the reading, the enjoyment and the appreciation: ‘’Desolation Row […] is a metaphor for a state of mind, or a state of enlightenment, that depicts insight; ‘’Being on Desolation Row’’ is like stepping out, not participating in a perverted society, seeing a truth.
Reactive reasoning tries to press the tableaus, the archetypes and the actions into that mould, with varying degrees of success’’ (‘Cinderella the slut’).
Given America’s rather perverted condition of late, the words ‘’with varying degrees of success’’ are ultimately key here; especially when one endeavours to try and come to terms with said nation’s actual common sense equating with unrivalled, cancerous stasis. The very nation where Dylan was born, and to which this day, remains inexorably divided and unprepared to acknowledge – let alone embrace – the truth.
Suffice to say, the truth is clearly subjective – especially within the deluded parameters of the utterly unenlightened. It is therefore going to take a whole lot more than ‘’Einstein disguised as Robin Hood’’ (or Joe Biden for that matter) for any kind of humanistic penny to drop.
Even if the trajectorial calypso of desolation has been handsomely brought to bear amid the 131 pages of this altogether terrific book.