“Demon Lovers and Gospel Truths”

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edited from Ray Templeton (www.mustrad.org.uk) and http://vernacularshellac.com:

Dylan: “Maybe when I was about ten, I started playing the guitar. I found a guitar… in the house that my father bought, actually. I found something else in there, it was kind of mystical overtones. There was a great big mahogany radio, that had a 78 turntable–when you opened up the top.

And I opened it up one day and there was a record on there–country record–a song called “Drifting Too Far From The Shore.”  The sound of the record made me feel like I was somebody else… and er, then, uh, you know, that I, I was maybe not even born to the right parents or something.”

In the first volume of his autobiography, Chronicles (Simon & Schuster, 2004), Bob Dylan talks of discovering

“… a parallel universe… with more archaic principles and values…  A culture with outlaw women, super thugs, demon lovers and gospel truths… streets and valleys, rich peaty swamps, with landowners and oilmen, Stagger Lees, Pretty Pollys and John Henrys – an invisible world that towered overhead with walls of gleaming corridors…

Folk music was a reality of a more brilliant dimension.  It exceeded all human understanding… (a) mythical realm… it was life magnified.”

Elsewhere, he describes putting together a repertoire of his own from the tradition (long before he had started to write songs) consisting of songs that were

“… about debauched bootleggers, mothers that drowned their own children… floods, union hall fires, darkness and cadavers at the bottom of rivers…  They weren’t friendly or ripe with mellowness.  They didn’t come gently to the shore…  They were my preceptor and guide into some altered consciousness of reality, some different republic …”

 

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