This is my favorite time of year. Due to mother nature’s forced imposition of yin on an action-oriented society, we’ve been cast to our homes, forced to stare at our reflections through a cackle of sun-gleaming icicles. Luckily, Friends is now on Netflix, so there’s a quota on how much introspection one can afford this snowpacolypse. But I’m going to be real with you. I love snowed-in staycations, almost as much as I love debilitating week-long illnesses, like a small case of the flu. Call me crazy. I am. And this is why I love snowpocalypses.
I’m not saying I would ever assume a full on Howard-Hughesian eccentricity, though I did walk out of The Aviator with perhaps a greater sense of understanding than my popcorn-muching movie compatriots. Maybe something a little bit more on the level of J.D. Salinger, where a nice jaunt to the post office just half a mile away would break up my reclusiveness and readjust me in bouts to civilization. Perhaps it is frightening the amount of time one person can spend alone, locked inside an old East Nashville house that bottoms out into an ice-covered park, with nothing but their thoughts to accompany them through the long unveiling hours. Without anyone around to cause undue emotional trauma, thoughts clash, battling against each other in an array of themed arena: Love (does monogamy make sense?), Government (would we be better off breaking into tiny communistic infrastructures), Seat Belts (always wear your seatbelt.) Eventually, one is claimed victorious, until the ammunition of insanity fires once more.
After finding myself buried deep inside the bleachers, watching these valiant fighters whizz back and forth around me, I usually turn to the one man whose catalogue runs the gammit of potential questions to induce voluntary insanity: Bob Dylan. And so I present to you, the 10 Most Played Dylan Songs to chronicle the deep end.
1. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
This is misleading, because as previously mentioned there is nothing I enjoy more than getting stuck. However, if this were a movie, it would seem like the appropriate opening song.
2. Things Have Changed
With a trucking bass line coated in a outlaw blues, this essential Dylan track was originally written for the 2000 film Wonder Boys. It’s macabre undertones make it the perfect segue into a cinematic roll, exposing a fear and loathing type chaos and complete detachment from any semblance of reality. After picking apart a thousand different answers to a thousand different questions, watching hell unleash itself in the outside world, the ice storm causes us to retreat, to decelerate our thoughts into the simple conclusion: “people are crazy and the times are strange.” Dylan explains an entropic, apocalyptic world, in which we fall in love with the first person who shows a glimpse of attention just for the sake of the game, where people are too insane and it feels as though we are walking straight to our deaths. Essentially, we are. But as he notes, “The human mind can only stand so much.”
3. Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right
By mid-point in the icepacolypse, I’ve inevitably taken half of my old lovers off the bookshelf, dusting them off to reanalyze their demise. Some of them I may have even contacted, feeling safe in the fact that it would be impossible for me to venture out and see them. They’re always a good read with possible different interpretations, and I wonder- is it possible that I committed the same foil to all of these bygone men? Perhaps I host some fatal flaw to doom relationships of which I am tragically unaware. Or maybe, they just wasted my precious time.
4. Desolation Row
4 PM. All is quiet on Electric Avenue; a few tiny droplets shave off the wombs of their icicles, existing for one orphic second before dropping into the puddles of sludge. The sky is a bruised pink, mimicking the cold pinched flesh on my cheekbones, and a neighbor’s German Shephard lets a mysterious bellow pierce through the still frozen afternoon. All the people I used to know four days earlier seem just a haze, like the Cinderellas and the Ezras that bounce between our local cafes. And I’m not getting any mail today on Desolation Row.
5. It’s Not Dark Yet, But It’s Getting There
“I’ve been down on the bottom of the world full of lies
I ain’t lookin’ for nothin’ in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.”
By the very end of the icepacolypse, I’ve been through as many situational dramas as my mind could possibly bear. In what I consider to be one of the most well-written Dylan songs, the narrator finds itself with a steely, hard soul, traveling along a sunset road to stilled numbness. No longer does he attach to the personal, to the lies of compatriots or the appeals of old lovers. After all these circumstances play through our minds, we eventually lose the ability to take on the weight of implications. The scars they leave are just enough, and days of analysis do nothing to anoint them. By Day 5 of standing completely frozen on my rusty, sleet-patched porch, I feel much like the character in this segment of Time Out Of Mind. I don’t know what I’m trying to solve, what I’m trying to get away from, and perhaps I will die here, against my will.
6. Pressing On
By the last nighttime, a mystical experience arises. It’s inevitable that after so much stimulation to the cerebral cortex, the spiritual sector of one’s brain would illuminate, giving a rest to the thought-battles and solving all of these self-induced apocalyptic problems with an affinity for the divine and unnamable source. I’ve always had a strong pull toward Dylan’s Gospel records- they echo a fervor, a zest in the invisible strings of the universe- a break from the cerebral and an entrance into the captivating visceral experience that we find when we enter the wombs of religiosity. They told Dylan he was crazy, too. But if my five days inside mimic even a the slightest murmur of his thirty years prior, asking questions in rhyme, I too find myself pressing on.