Like A Rolling Stone: A Free Verse Interpretation
Finding Inspiration from Music
So there I was last Thursday, killing some time on Facebook as I took a break from the writing of my novel. I tossed out a question to my Peeps. I asked them to name a favorite song, and I said I would write a creative piece inspired by that song.
And the song suggestions poured in, a veritable flood of musical inspiration from which to choose from. Probably the most suggested artist in that list was Bob Dylan, who happens to be one of my favorite musical poets and a man I have greatly admired for five decades.
And so, without any further delay or dragging of feet, I give you my free verse rendition of “Like A Rolling Stone.” My apologies, in advance, to Mr. Dylan if my interpretation misses the mark.
Once upon a Time
“Once upon a time, you dressed so fine, you threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you? People’d call, say, ‘Beware doll, you’re bound to fall’ You thought they were all kiddin’ you.”
Metaphor this, Mo’Fo, you ain’t such hot stuff now, are you, darlin’? Forgot where you came from, forgot where it all began, out of the birth canal, ride that birth chute for all you’re worth, same afterbirth as everyone else, bloody, messy, and there you are, in Nature’s suit, kickin’ and screamin’, no better, no worse, than anyone else.
So where do you get off flashing your jewels and snapping your finger, do this, don’t do that, wait on me, baby, and I’ll flip you 15% if you’re a good little boy or girl now go, go away, please don’t hover like a damned beggar, would you please have some self-respect….but you ain’t saying that now, are you, babe? The jewels are all gone, and people who were friends now just look down with pity and apprehension, yes, that’s right, apprehension, cuz if it can happen to you then it can happen to them, and wouldn’t that just crimp up their nose jobs and put a dent in their plastic, fantastic, faker-than-all-hell boobs?
Individuals or countries, who we talkin’ about here, Bob? Who you highlighting? Who are you calling out for their extravagance and waste, their riches and their apathy? Who was the target and who did you skewer with your words?
How Does It Feel?
“How does it feel? To be without home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone?”
Loneliness is the cloak you wear. In the blink of an eye, all that hard-earned, or easily inherited, wealth is gone, and where are you now? Tin cup in hand you shuffle off into the sunset. Set up your cardboard home now, loser, cuz the tax man’s a’comin’ and he ain’t got no sense of humor or compassion for your excuses. Live in excess and die in poverty, the emptiness of the wallet and the emptiness of the soul, and pheasant under glass has morphed into tuna casserole at the Bread Kitchen, and how’s that tasty treat a’tastin’?
No one to blame you say, or too many to blame, but the truth is in the mirror, and there’s no hiding from that Bad Boy, unless you just break the glass, but then you’ve got a distorted vision looking back at you, and ain’t that appropriate? Live in distortion and die in clarity, because when the hooded figure with scythe comes calling, there’s nowhere to hide, no one to shuck and jive, just you, and your memories, and a bottle of Mad Dog to ease the pain.
You Said You’d Never Compromise
“With the mystery tramp, but now you realize…He’s not selling any alibis, as you stare into the vacuum of his eyes, and say, ‘do you want to make a deal?’”
Lady Liberty has lost her luster, now, hasn’t she? Hard to take the old gal seriously when she speaks with forked tongue. She used to walk the talk, but now that rhetoric b.s. is just so much nonsense, and who’s listening to her now? Who respects her now? Fallin’ from grace she has, as they all do who stand atop a pedestal much too high for gentle landings.
Cut her some slack, for the love of God, and in God we trust, but God don’t want what you’re selling now, babe, when the homeless outnumber the lawmakers, and their cries fall upon deaf ears during martini hour under the shadow of the Capitol Dome. Make room for the shyster, now, move outta the way, for the corporations and the banks, the high-rollers and the tramps, all wanting a piece of the Lady, and she’s finding out that when you sleep with the dogs you end up with fleas.
Maybe she needs a good dousing. Maybe she needs to be scrubbed clean until she bleeds. Maybe she needs to return to her roots, to liberty and justice for all, but that song is tired, and the vocal chords have cysts, and the sweet song of liberty is sounding like a scratched LP.
You can’t keep making deals, Lady. There are only so many pieces to that pie, and when they’re all gone, all you are left with is the crumbs and the fading aroma of what was once a tasty treat.
You Never Turned Around to See the Frowns
“On the jugglers and the clowns when they all come down and do tricks for you. You never understood that it ain’t no good. You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you.”
How many deals can you make? How many promises can you fabricate? How long do you think you can do the bald-faced-lie-two-step before you trip over your own laces and fall flat on your puss?
Inject this; reject that; play the game by the rules you established, but what happens when those rules are changed, and a whole new game is being played and you are left on the sidelines wondering how to play?
You can only use people for so long? There’s a shelf-life on demands, and once they are outdated they go rancid, and rancid stinks to high heaven and leaves you permanently smelling like two-week old gym socks, and it’s hard to get a date when you smell like a boy’s locker room after the big game.
Used to Ride on the Chrome Horse with Your Diplomat
“Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat. Ain’t it hard when you discover that he really wasn’t where it’s at, after he took from you everything he could steal?”
You sell your soul for a moment of gratification, but the short-term bankrupts the long-term, and robbing Peter to pay Paul is Keynesian suicide of the highest order. Who can you trust when everyone is protecting themselves? Who can you count on when the name of this game is looking out for number one? Don’t you see? Don’t you comprehend, and that rhymes with end, as in the end of the line for those who wallow in selfishness and greed.
One for all and all for one breaks down pretty damned easily when one link goes a’missin’, leaving you with little chunks of metal lying on the floors of the stock exchange as scraps of worthless tickertape flutter down around the red, white and blue corpse. It’s not a pretty sight, is it?
Princess on the Steeple and All the Pretty People
“They’re all drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made. Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things, but you’d better lift your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe.”
What’s that fur worth now, darlin’, when the bottom has fallen out of the ivory tower? When the market for such foolishness scrapes the dung heap, where will your next gourmet meal come from?
You can’t bridge that chasm between wants and needs, but you have to if you’re to survive, and survive may not be thrive but it’s what you have for now, so hock what you have, gather up your cardboard, and join the others down in tent city for a little dose of reality. The soup kitchen opens at nine, the shelter at six, and there’s always a spot under the freeway overpass to catch a cat nap among the other pretty people who forgot that pruning a plant keeps it healthy and strong.
You Used to Be so Amused
“At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used. Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse. When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. You’re invisibile now, you got no secrets to conceal.”
And there’s the lesson for us all. When you got nothing you got nothing to lose, and those who got nothing are indeed invisible to those who got something, as though a curtain has fallen down upon them, hiding the have nots from the haves, and ain’t that the way it’s always been? Vanderbilts and Trumps, Waltons and Gettys, old money and new, living in a world unspoiled, protected by their spoils, never having to recognize or deal with the ugliness of life outside the castle walls.
But even castles will crumble, worn down by time and fate, so sleep with one eye open because the wolves are always howling at the door, and one day they just might howl your song.
How Does It Feel?
It all depends now, doesn’t it? Are you living the truth or living the lies? Only you can answer the eternal question….how does it feel?
And now I pass the challenge on to all of you. Is anyone up for it? I get to choose the song, and you get to write the article. The song is: Across the Universe by the Beatles.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)