Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spirit On The Water

Modern Times, Bob Dylan’s 2006 release. A jasmine sound. I’ve been playing it off and on so often my wife has banished it from the house. “Play it in the car. Play it when I’m gone. Play it, Baby, but please play it somewhere else.

“I’m done with it, Baby, or I’m done with you!”

Oh, she doesn’t call me Baby. I don’t think she calls anybody Baby. And she wasn’t quite that adamantine about it. I dramatize. I engage in hyperbole. But she is tired. Very, very tired of the thing.

But I’m not. I love it. I can’t get enough of it. I think I bought it back last fall. And I can’t hardly keep it off the stereo. I can’t hardly keep it out of my head. And heart. It’s made a place for itself in both places, and on my lips and in my throat and lungs and wind pipe as well.

This is Dylan full of God. Full of God all integrated into his thinking and feeling and knowing and experiencing. This is Dylan full of the presence of God.

I particularly like “Spirit On The Water.” But I particularly like just about every song on the CD. They help me to know who God is better. God through the voice and music of Bob Dylan. God in this rendition is sweet. He’s impossible. He’s a she. She’s the beloved. She’s everything to the singer. She’s his delight and his meaning. He aches for her when she's gone.

Dylan says he’s not a poet. He’s a songwriter. I agree. But still. There’s a poetry in what he does. Here are the words to “Spirit On The Water.” See what you may hear.

Spirit on the water
Darkness on the face of the deep
I keep thinking about you baby
I can't hardly sleep

I'm traveling by land
Traveling through the dawn of day
You're always on my mind
I can't stay away

I'd forgotten about you
Then you turned up again
I always knew
We were meant to be more than friends

When you're near
It's just as plain as it can be
I'm wild about you, gal
You ought to be a fool about me

Can't explain
The sources of this hidden pain
You burned your way into my heart
You got the key to my brain

I've been trampling through mud
Praying to the powers above
I'm sweating blood
You got a face that begs for love

Life without you
Doesn't mean a thing to me
If I can't have you
I'll throw my love into the deep blue sea

Sometimes I wonder
Why you can't treat me right
You do good all day
And then you do wrong all night

When you're with me
I'm a thousand times happier than I could ever say
What does it matter
What price I pay

They brag about your sugar
Brag about it all over town
Put some sugar in my bowl
I feel like laying down

I'm as pale as a ghost
Holding a blossom on a stem
You ever seen a ghost? No
But you have heard of them

I see you there
I'm blinded by the colors I see
I take good care
Of what belongs to me

I hear your name
Ringing up and down the line
I'm saying it plain
These ties are strong enough to bind

Now your sweet voice
Calls out from some old familiar shrine
I got no choice
Can't believe these things would ever fade from your mind

I could live forever
With you perfectly
You don't ever
Have to make a fuss over me

From East to West
Ever since the world began
I only mean it for the best
I want to be with you any way I can

I been in a brawl
Now I'm feeling the wall
I'm going away baby
I won't be back 'til fall

High on the hill
You can carry all my thoughts with you
You've numbed my will
This love could tear me in two

I wanna be with you in paradise
And it seems so unfair
I can't go to paradise no more
I killed a man back there

You think I'm over the hill
You think I'm past my prime
Let me see what you got
We can have a whoppin' good time

Words and music by Bob Dylan
Copyright 2006 Special Rider Music


Anonymous said...

Hello! Thank you for your post. This song is truly incredible in the amont of Love that it contains.
However, as I don't speak English quite well, I have some problems with understanding the lyrics. What is "spirit on the water"? I don't get this bit.

Bill Elkington said...

Thank you for the encouragement! It is an allusion or reference to Genesis 1:2, which is translated as, "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."

Anonymous said...

Wow! I thought it was something of this kind. Y'know, there's a singer in Russia called Boris Grebenshikov whose lyrics are full of different allusions to Tao Te Ching, buddist philisophy, Bible and even celtic myths. There's even a wiki-like website dedicated to interpreting Boris' lyrics, even though what makes music the real thing is that you can still feel its power without realizing what stays beyond a single allusion.
Could you please explain the meaning of the last verse? Thank you.

Bill said...

I'm not sure what it means. What do you think?