Here is a small contribution to Bob Dylan scholarship. This occurred to me during jetlag-induced sleeplessness.

In several of Dylan’s songs of the mid-1960s, there is an association between mysterious dominating women and drums:

  • The heroine of “She belongs to me” is descried thus: “She’s a hypnotist collector, you are a walking antique”. In the last line the subject is admonished “For Christmas, give her big drums”.
  • In “Fourth time around”, the subject of the song “… [works] on my face until breaking my eyes”, and later the narrator “taps on her drum”.
  • The song “Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands” contains many questions, but the most urgent is when the narrator should deliver to her his Arabian drums. [At Christmas, surely? –Ed.]

The daf, or Middle Eastern frame drum, would seem to fit here, although it is not just Arabian. (I heard it played in Tehran.) It is big; it is a drum on which you tap.

So why are there no drums in “Visions of Johanna”?

About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.
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