Edie Sedgwick

Maid Of Constant Sorrow

by

R.E. Prindle

https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/exhuming-bob-xxviii-visions-of-johanna-decoded/

https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/exhuming-bob-xxvi-bob-and-edie-sooner-or-later-everyone-must-know/

Chapter 13

Blonde On Blonde

Her Fogs, Her Amphetamines And Her Pearls

     One can only guess at Edie’s feelings when Dylan dismissed her so brutally  from the lines of One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later).  She must have intuited if not known that her short and glorious career as the toast of New York was going nowhere.  She came to New York with a handsome inheritance that she squandered in a trice, her parents disapproved of her conduct to the the point that they cut her off from support leaving her as Dylan had sneered in Like A Rolling Stone, a poor little rich girl ‘who had never lived out on the streets but now she was going to have to get used to it.’  Screamingly in pain from amphetamines one can only imagine her bewilderment with no way to rectify the situation.  Whatever golden opportunities she may have had were now gone forever.  Frome here to her death in 1971 would be one long wailing ‘horrorous’ nosedive that is terrifying to relive as a writer even.  My stomach quakes as I try to organize the course of events.

     Chuck Wein, one of the Harvard homosexuals she had associated with and who had come to New York with her was her evil genius, some say Svengali, who had guided her to Warhol and the

The Poet

Factory and then presided over her self-destruction.    Then for that brief glorious summer of ’65 she had set New York on its ear as a companion to Andy Warhol.  Made her feel giddy and indestructible.  Andy was apparently in love with her but as a self-centered homosexual was too flaky to work out a relationship that would give her dignity while he was unable to support her more than extravagant tastes.

     Behind Warhol was Dylan competing for Edie’s favors which he won in December of ’65 and then discarded her like an old shoe.  He recorded the course of his relationship with Edie in various songs from mid-1965 to the completion of Blonde On Blonde in the Spring of ’66.  His own career course was changed dramatically in July of ’66 when he had his motorcycle accident.

     It might be well to review the songs that comprise Blonde On Blonde now.  The song list of Blonde On Blonde is as follows:

1.  Rainy Day Women #12 And 35

2.  Pledging My Time

3.  Visions Of Johanna

4.    One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)

5.  I Want You

6.  Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again

7.  Leopard Sking Pillbox Hat

8.  Just Like A Woman

9.  Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine

10.  Temporary Like Achilles

11. Absolutely Sweet Marie

12.  Fourth Time Around

13.  Obviously Five Believers

14.  Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands

     With a knowledge of the lyrics the titles themselves read consecutively tell story while the lyrics confirm the tale.  The story hinges on who the two women are.  One is Dylan’s mother who blasted herson’s psyche when at about the age of twelve she told him in so many words that he had ruined her life by being born.  Apparently it was more than Dylan could handle because it was then that his lifelong misogyny began.  It is forbidden for a son to revenge himself on his mother so his only recourse was to take it out on another woman or women.  Dylan has been a serial misogynist.

     One of the women he chose to vent his spleen on was Edie Sedgwick.  Thus the two rainy day women most likely are his mother and Edie.  All the time Dylan was bedeviling Edie he was courting Sara Lowndes who he eventually married in November of ’65.  It was a quiet wedding that didn’t became known for several months and not widely known until later than that.  He married just before he succeeded in abstracting Edie from Andy’s entourage so there is no doubt that he was only toying with Edie as a surrogate for his mother.

     He may actually have cherished her vulnerability from drugs, inexperience in the world and low self-esteem.  She would have been as helpless as a baby, almost like shot gunning fish in a barrel.  Sara was his Madonna, Edie his whore.  He waits to the very end of Blonde On Blonde to mention Sara and then he wrote Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands for her.  Of course, this was all very mysterious  for us back in ’66 because we knew nothing of what was happening in New York.  None of us had even heard of Sara Lowndes until she showed up as Dylan’s wife

     As blogger Jim De Rogatis says, when he sat down to listen to Blonde:  What I discovered was an artist who sneered and snarled with more venom and conviction than Johnny Rotten, and

The Artist

finally it dawned on me:  Dylan was a punk…

     Jim wasn’t there at the creation as I was, he is a younger man.  I guess my soul was so canchred at the time that I welcomed the sneering and snarling as an expression of my own trauma while today I find the venom is so grating that I can no longer listen to Dylan’s records.  Besides he borrows nearly everything.

     The album opens on a note of forced sardonic merriment as though in a house of ill fame and ends with the dirge dedicated to his wife, Sara.  I leave the interpretation of that up to you.  I can’t pretend at this date to understand the lyrics to Sad Eyed Lady.  One would have to know more of her and Dylan’s courtship.  Dylan thought she was supposed to be impressed that he wrote a song for her with a title that sounds like another of his caustic insults.

     To take the songs in order:  Rainy Day Women is a raucous, very noisy mocking song along the lines of Like A Rolling Stone with its refrain of ‘How does it feel?’  On release the song was so noisy it was nearly unlistenable, certainly objectionable and barely music.  Time has conditioned our ears.  The refrain here:  Everyboyd must get stoned, has layers of possible meaning.  While the allegory of stoned meaning pelted with rocks is present, stoned can also have a secondary meaning of smoking marijuana.  I don’t think the meaning has anything to do with getting ‘stoned’ from dope.  I think it’s a combination of the first meaning and what was perceived by Dylan as a devastating insult from his mother.

     The refrain must refer on one hand to his mothers perceived ‘stoning’ of Dylan by her announcement to him that he had been basically unwanted.  That stoning is turned around to apply to his ‘stoning’ of Edie in vengeance.  He then gleefully taunts and mocks her with the refrain:  Do not feel so all alone, everybody must get stoned (How does it feel?) which refers back to his earlier song about Edie, Like A Rolling Stone.

     In order to make ‘poetry’ of his taunt, our incipient ‘Shakespeare’ gives several poetic references that have nothing to do with rocks or joints.  For instance the line ‘They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car’ must refer to radio DJs pitching products.  Thus stoning is meant as a verbal assault.  One can compare that line with the Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger’s lyrics to his song Satisfaction:

When I’m drivin’ in my car

And that man comes on the radio

The Singer

He’s tellin’ me more and more

About some useless information

Supposed to fire my imagination

I can’t get no, Oh, no, no, no

Hey, hey, hey, that’ what I say

I can’t get no

Satisfaction

     So Dylan’s use of ‘stoning’ is giving or getting unpleasant information.

     Song #2, Pledging My Time merely means he is obsessed with  his mother’s ‘information’ that he was unwanted which is reflected in song #3, Visions Of Johanna when he sings:  These visions of Johanna have conquered my mind.  Johanna being his mother.  Then there is discussion about Andy and Edie.  (see my essay at     https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/exhuming-bob-xxviii-visions-of-johanna-decoded/    for a full discussion.)

     Song#4 Sooner Or Later mocks Edie who he ‘really did try to get close to’ as he dismisses here as he would have like to have dismissed his mother.   Song #5 is self-explanatory.

https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/exhuming-bob-xxvi-bob-and-edie-sooner-or-later-everyone-must-know/

     Song #6, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again awhile the lyrics are unclear must refer back to I Want You on one hand and forward to Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and Just Like A Woman on the other.  He’s stuck inside of Mobile, i.e. he wants his mother with the Memphis Blues, i.e. he want his vengeance on Edie is a possible interpretation.  At any rate it is placed between I Want You and the two Edie songs so it must be related to all three.

     Then come two really unnecessarily vicious songs that everyone agrees are about Edie- Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and Just Like A Woman.  There are no obvious reasons for Dylan to express such vehement, disfiguring hatred of the poor girl unless he’s visiting his repressed hatred of his mother on her.

     Song #10 Temporary Like Achilles involves Edie and Andy and himself.  I doubt if Dylan had any understanding of the Iliad, if he had even read it, so apart from Achilles short life and the seven month interruption of his relationship with Edie by Warhol an interpretation is somewhat of a hazard.

     Songs 11, 12, 13, Absolutely Sweet Marie, Fourth Time Around, and Obviously 5 Believers seem to wander off topic.  I have read one interpretation in which the blogger thought Obviously 5 Believers was a response to the Beatles Norwegian Wood.  Or possibly they lead into song #14 Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands that Dylan says he wrote about Sara Loundes.  The lyrics of this ‘poem’ are incomprehensible but if I had been Sara I wouldn’t have taken the title as a compliment, especially not after being locked out of a discussion about Dylan, Edie and his mother.  After all, this is a married man lashing out at Edie.

     After completing the LP Dylan left for his 1966 tour of England in which there was such a violent reaction to his electric backup band.  I don’t remember their being a violent reaction made on the West Coast.  For myself I welcome it.  I never did like that faux folk crap he did anyway.  Apparently Dylan didn’t either.  A new expanded edition, lots of new material. of Robert Shelton’s biography, No Direction Home, just released by Omnibus Press is available, speaking in 1965 Shelton quotes Dylan thusly:  ‘There never was any change.  No instrument will ever change love, death in any soul.  My music is my music.  Folk music was such a shuck.  I never recorded a folk song.’  He did however call himself a folk singer.

     So, whoever shouted Judas at the Manchester concert knew what he was talking about.  I never listened to those nauseous early Dylan records anyway.  Blonde On Blonde was released in June of 1966 while Dylan was thrown by his ‘chrome horse’ on 7/29/66 thus putting an end to the first phase of his career.

     I don’t know what Edie thought wen she heard the record that summer but one supposes she would have recognized herself as the topic of the conversation.  Warhol certainly did and he was not amused.  Knew something about motorcycles too.

     Both Edie and Dylan were so heavily into amphetamines that they probably were not responsible for their actions.  Drugs tend to put one into an internal state in which the outside world assumes a subordinate position, almost irrelevant, to one’s interior reality.  A person functions in his own mind as a sort of magician who can comman the world to his own world.  A certain type of insanity I suppose.  Right and wrong are merely expressions of one’s own subconscious will.  As Dylan confused Edie with his mother who he subconsciously wished to punish he transferred those feelings, that resentment, that hatret onto Edie as his surrogate mother thus gaining his revenge.  How much satisfaction he got isn’t known and he’s not telling.

     Edie herself was so far gone into amphetamines as to be oblivious to what was happening in her life.  As far as she could dissociate her life from reality she could obviously make black white and vice versa.

   Having dealt with Dylan’s relationship with Edie, let us return to January of ’66 to take up again the story from there.

Chap. 14 has been posted as of 6/23/11

 

Exhuming Bob 13

Fit 5:

Bob As Messiah

by

R.E. Prindle

 

Are you that Man Of Constant Sorrow

Of whom the authors write-

Grief comes with every morrow

And wretchedness at night?

Anon.

 

     Source of quotes:  Scott Marshall, Bob Dylan’s Unshakeable Monotheism- downloaded from Jewseek.com dsc09906but no longer available.  The site is no longer functioning.  Roughly the same material can be found in Scott M. Marshall with Marion Ford, Restless Pilgrim: The Spiritual Journey Of Bob Dylan, Relevant Media, 2004.  No longer in print new copies may still be obtained for under three dollars at Alibris.com for any who are interested.

 

     In the dead of winter in 1961 Bob Dylan, ne Bobby Zimmerman, left Minnesota to try his chances in New York City.  At this point he must have realized that his better chances lay with Folk Music than Rock n’ Roll.  Indeed, upon his arrival in New York he realized that Tin Pan Alley had the recording world sewn up except for the ‘race’ musics of Country And Western and R&B, and the Alley was already fairly tight with R&B.  He quickly and astutely realized that whatever he intended to do would find no home on the Great White Way.

     While Bob traveled light as far as material possessions went he brought a lot of psychological and religious baggage with him.  The kind of stuff you can’t leave in a locker at the bus station.  As his whole career has been an unfolding of this religious impulse it would behoove us to examine it somewhat closely.

     Bob received intense religious indoctrination in his youth until the time he left home in the Summer of 1959.  This religious education was of an intense Orthodox Jewish kind.  He recieved this from his family, both parents were deeply religious in the Orthodox mode, although the Hibbing syngogue was more often without a Rabbi of any kind than not.  Perhaps of premier importance was his Bar Mitzvah indoctrination in 1954 from a Lubavitcher Orthodox Rabbi direct from Brooklyn.  That combined with four years of extended stays at the Zionist summer camp, Camp Herzl in Webster, Wisconsin.

     In speaking to Paul Vitello of the Kansas City Times after announcing his call to Jesus/God, Bob told him:

I believe in the Bible, literally.  Everything in it, I believe, was written by the hand of God.

     That is the statement of a religious fundamentalist and one without much sense or discernment.  If Bob doesn’t know the the ‘hand of God’ has written nothing then he can be written off as a rational human being.  Bob in the same interview went further:

     Everything that’s happening in the news today is prophesied in the scriptures.  It’s all in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelations.

     For myself, I begin to run when I hear some Christian fundamentalist bring up the Book of Revelations.  It has the same effect on me as anti-Semite has for the Jew.

     We can assume therefore that upon his arrival in New York in 1961 Bob was a card carrying Biblical devotee.  This religious baggage for the time being took a back seat to Bob’s psychological baggage but was absorbed into it.   Hence the Biblical sounding ranting of Like A Rolling Stone.

     At the same time as with most young people Bob was in rebellion against his upbringing.  That is to say he was trying to find his own place in life while reconciling his upbringing to the emerging realities presented to him by life.  As his line from his song My Back Pages would seem to indicate:  I become my own enemy when I begin to preach. he realized that his religious beliefs would alienate any listeners and abort the possibility of establishing his career and reaching them later.

     Indeed, the sixties, and expecially the New york fold crowd was intensely anti-religious.  It was about this time that Bob read a headline on a Time Magazine cover asking the rhetorical quesiton:  ‘Is God dead?’  Bob was extremely offended by it dating the decline of Western Civilization from that headline.

     From 1961 to 1966 then Bob wrote mainly of his psychological problems and frustrations.  His dream life, which is to say, subconscious, received a lot of attention during this period as well as later in his career.

     It was precisely the speaking from his subconscious to the subconscious of his audience that drew this specific type of person to him.

     Phil Ochs, a contemporary Folkie of Dylan, recognized what he was doing in stirring up deeply held resentment and thought he was brewing trouble for himself.  However Dylan, while hating, did not necessarily stir up emotions that would lead to violent actions.  Instead his hate was characterized by self-pity and resentment that would be satisfied by showing people how wrong people were in their judgement of him.  Thus he would accentuate his God as a god of judgement.  He left the actual judgemental punishment of them up to his god.  Thus those of us in his audience who linked up were also characterized by self-pity and resentment but not violent.

     For instance, in a 1983 interview with Martin keller he was quoted:

     My so-called Jewish roots are in Egypt.  They went down there with Joseph, and they came back out with Moses- you know, the guy that killed the Egyptian, married an Ethiopian girl, and brought the Law down from the mountain.  The same Moses whose staff turned into a serpent.  The same person who killed 3,000 Hebrews for getting down, stripping off their clothes, and dancing around a golden calf.  These are my roots. (My italics.)  Jacob had four wives and thirteen children, who fathered thirteen chiidren, who fathered an entire people.  These are my roots, too.  Gideon with a small army, defeating an army of thousands.  Deborah, the prophetess; Esther the Queen, and many Canaanite women, Reuben slipping into his father’s bed when his father wasn’t home. These are my roots. 

     Delilah tempting Samson, killing him softly with her song.  The mighty King David was an outlaw before he was king, you know.  He had to hide in caves and get his meals at back doors.  The wonderful King Saul had a warrant out on him- a ‘no knock’ search warrant.  They wanted to cut his head off.  John the Baptist could tell you more about it.  [That’s a joke in this standup routine, Son.]  Roots, man- we’re talking Jewish roots, you want to know more?  Check up on Elijah the prophet.  He could make rain.  Isaiah the prophet, even Jeremiah, see if their brethren didn’t want to bust their brains for telling it right like it is.  Yeah, these are my roots, I suppose.

     Now, those are extremely violent, murderous roots but they form the staples of Bob’s conscious and unconscious minds.  The selected examples,  all from the Old Testament, are revealing in the Freudian sense.  Vengeance dominates.

     Nor are these ‘Jewish’ roots in any exlusive sense.  These actors were Hebrews and not Jews.  I know all this bullroar from Christian (Methodist) services.  I was repelled at once and rejected this crap when I escaped the stultifying influence of my childhood.  This crap is unworthy stuffing for human minds. 

     This mean spirit is felt throughout the whole of Bob’s corpus from 1961 to 1966, more especially in that most puerile of all his songs:  Masters Of War.

     Significantly Bob mentions nothing about Jesus or the New Testament; his roots are all Old Testament.  This raises the question of whether his embracing of Jesus in 1979 was calculated or not.  There is in fact little differentiation  between his conception of jesus and the Jewish Yahweh.  Indeed the idiot church I attended as a youth seemed to accentuate the Old Testament Yahweh over the New Testament Jesus.  I have a much stronger conception of Yahwey over Jesus so one might say I share ‘Jewish roots’ as much as Bob does.  I am as much a dual citizen as Bob is except more American/Ancient Hebrew rather than Israeli/American.

     As of 1964 Bob Dylan wasn’t really going anywhere.  True, his manager Albert Grossman was busy promoting his songs to others whose recordings then inflated Bob’s reputation but that didn’t necessarily translate into big sales for his own albums.

     Then in 1964 Bob had a stroke of luck, the Beatles came to America.  There had been a massive promotion along the lines- The Beatles Are Coming, The Beatles Are Coming.  No one had ever heard of them but when they appeared on Ed Sullivan everyone was tuned in to see what the fuss was about.  After it was over, other than the screaming girls in the audience, that, I might add, was a new phenomenon, few of us still knew what the fuss was about.

     Nevertheless it seemed that from that point on the Beatles were on the news nearly every night.  This was unprecedented attention for a mere ‘pimple’ music pop group which is all the Beatles were at that time.

     Why the Beatles received this attention has never been clear to me.  However these were four goi musicians although their manager Brian Epstein was Jewish.  In the inter-cultural competition a Jewish super-star was now required.  After all the first of the superstars Elvis Presley was an all-American hillbilly.  Fabian the last before the Beatles was Italian.  These four English kids then came up and so a Jewish kid was required to keep up the Jewish image.  The only real alternative was Bob Dylan although few or any of us knew, or even suspected he was Jewish.  Bob had sure worked hard to keep that a secret.  Even his girlfriend Suze Rotolo was slow to find out.

     Bob then was given the big media buildup also being on the news frequently, also being given the star treatment in the big national magazines.  While the Beatles handled their fame with chipper aplomb Bob approached it with negative depression.  But, it worked just as well.  The pressure was enormous, plus Albert Grossman was pushing him too hard, working the kid to death.  Literally according to Bob.

     Whether there really was a motorcycle accident or Bob had a nervous breakdown from contemplating the next killer tour his manager had arranged may never be known for sure.  After completing Blonde On Blonde that filled out his core oeuvre Bob went into seclusion for a period.

     He put this seclusion to good use.  Although his premier creative period was over, his golden age so to speak, he succeeded in a magnificent Silver Age.  He and the members of his backup band, later known simply as The Band, created a huge and significant body of work.  Dozens of songs, some of them really good while most of them were good.  It was here that Bob perfected the technique of clothing his religious thoughts in Amerian indigenous Folk forms.  This ability was exhibited on his next LP, John Wesley Harding, that was released not that long after Blonde On Blonde.

     In one of this period’s songs, You Ain’t Going Nowhere, Bob had this to say:  ‘Find ourself a tree with roots.’  Thus the cover of the Harding album showed Bob standing next to a tree with roots dressed in Jesse James era Western foul weather gear.  Now, Bob had also sung:  ‘I may look like Robert Ford, but I feel just like Jesse James.’  This guy looked like the Minnesota Northfield raid while the tree with roots reprsented his Jewish affiliation.

     Now Bob was on track for his Jewish liaison and subsequent demonstration of his Jewish Lubavitcher roots.  Those who follow Bob’s religious odyssey, and there have been several books written on this topic, all call attention to the close relation of Biblical topics to his lyrics from 1961 to the present.  If you have the backgound and take both a broad and narrow approach to looking for them you will find that they abound.  The method becomes second nature for Bob so that he may not ever be aware of many of the references himself until they’re pointed out to him; or he may be conscious of them all.

     What is clear is that Bob views his career as a religious calling; that is to say a messianic mission to bring the word of God to as many people as he can.  In May 1980 he told interviewer Karen Hughes:

     He was disarmingly honest with Hughes about his sense of God’s call:  “I guess He’s always been calling me.  Of course, how would I have ever known that, that it was Jesus calling me….

     So now we have the anomaly of God calling to a Jew through Jesus.  While both Christians and Jews who now view Jesus as a Western and not a Jewish figure had trouble accepting the fact that a Jew could accept Jesus and remain a Jew nothing is more reasonable.  That Bob, a Jew living in a Christian country, could amalgamate Judaism and Jesus wasn’t even all that odd.

     Jesus himself was a Jew while the early Christians were all Jews who accepted every Jewish rite including circumcision and the dietary laws.  It was only when Saint Paul separated Christianity from these Judaic laws that Christianity succeeded.

     As Marshall’s interviewees point out, the New Testament is a Jewish novel in which 25 out 27 books were written by Jews. John and Revelations being the exceptions.  Even as Bob embraced Jesus, the Jews for Jesus, based in San Francisco, who themselves did not convert to Christianity were active.  Just as the Jews persecuted the early Jewish Christians even to death so they put the screws to Jews For Jesus and have at least destroyed their effectiveness.

     Thus in 1983 the Lubavitchers re-entered Bob’s life when as they thought they attempted ot reconvert him.  As Bob had never left the faith, he has said in effect, I am a Jew of the Jews, I suppose he played along until they were satisfied then went along his way as a Jewish Christian.  Makes perfect sense to me, I don’t have a problem with the manner in which Bob expresses his religiosity. 

     I have a problem in that he expresses it at all.  I find it incredible in this this day and age of scientific reallty that anyone can make the statement that the Bible is the actual word of Yahweh or any other god. 

     Goodness gracious, Bob, shape up before it’s too late.  We’re almost down to that last grain of sand.  The lights are beginning to dim.  It is getting dark.

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