Posts Tagged ‘Oedipal lyrics’

Ranking Bob Dylan Songs, #84: Spanish Harlem Incident

In John Hinchey’s 2002 book, Like a Complete Unknown: The poetry of Bob Dylan’s songs, he makes the argument that Dylan’s songwriting can in some ways be divided into a “mother” phase and a “lover” phase. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” for example, was “the first in a series of progressively demoralized apocalyptic prophecies Dylan would address to a mother figure who always seems to induce in Dylan a self-revelatory expansiveness verging on logorrhea.”

This is an interesting—and neatly Freudian—thesis, but I think (and Hinchey also knows) that Dylan’s relationship with women is more complicated than that. “Spanish Harlem Incident” is an example of this. In some ways, the “gypsy gal” addressed in the song is a kind of maternal figure for Dylan: He is clearly coming to her for guidance and direction, in the same way he comes to the mother figure in “Hard Rain.” Continue reading