People seem to be missing the idea that “Visions of Johanna are taking my place” It seems that Louise is “with” Johanna while “Little boy blue” is entwined with her. Where her cape of the stage once had flowed Verse 4. Maybe this Johanna of the story represents his former repertoire. He is leaving the protest singers. More on Genius "Visions of Johanna [Live 1966]" Track Info. Psychedelic Furs lead singer Richard Butler cites this as the song that had the most influence on him. blindman's bluff - the game of creating art. Don’t be put off by the overlong retune of the guitar, when the song gets going this is something else. One of the things that make Dylan so great as say Bruce is that you cannot tie his greatest songs to a specific time. It just makes the most sense to me & tells the complete story; just as Bob says his songs are easy for him to remember because the words tell a story. William H. from New York, Ny This Song--Visions of Johanna--is about Joan Baez primarily and the thoughts he has, the visions he has which revolve around her and their musical and intimate relationship. Now Dylan is a songwriter, not a poet. You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture. One thing that’s usually said about the Mona Lisa is that the smile is ambiguous – it’s not obviously happy or sad. Ultimately Louise is nice but she’s not his wife. If Johanna is taken to represent the world as it is – reality – then the visions of Johanna are the world as it now appears to the narrator. Written in the first two weeks of 1956, while staying with his sister Caroline in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Kerouac's novel would not be published until 1963. The Mona Lisa’s smile might just as well represent contentment as the ‘highway blues’. The sense of isolation from “normal” reality, the existential angst and eerily vivid imagery all lead me to this view. Sounded like a carnival to me for some reason. The narrator has to ‘mount’ his stairs, again reminding us of Calvary, and also perhaps the Sermon on the Mount. And Madonna, she still has not showed I saw it as a very druggy song, with pedlars and fancy addicts and various freaked out phonies, dripping with Existential despair. “This lowly Irish bard would proudly carry his baggage. By pop music standards Visions is an epic, a tragic opera that ruminates on how love can overcome the emptiness of our lonely and otherwise pointless existence. But back to those extra lines; they were seemingly added later in the recording process and subtle changes were made as time went by. Still the song may have other meanings in it but the name Johanna and the lyrics themselves plus the fact that when Dylan came into his office the day after he wrote this song and whispered in Johanna's ear, "I wrote a song for you" says a lot … We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 2000 active members. Little boy lost is a reference to Brian Jones who use to date his wife,just as he sang in another song about Brian Jones,your dancing child in his Chinese suit ,you know I spoke to him ,I took his flute,ah Mr Zimmerman was one jealous man. In the ruins of your balcony Did they have children? You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page. This was her song. I was transfixed, transformed. It’s about Joan of Arc’s visions. He did offer this guidance when addressing the song in. If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year. Al Kooper, who was a prolific session musician, played the Hammond B3 organ on this track. Then, around 1963 none at all. “Visions Of Johanna” is a Monet, a breathtaking masterpiece by Dylan the Impressionist. Like ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’ the song ends on a pessimistic note. Johanna is an unachievable ideal (his irrational side). WikiMatrix " Visions of Johanna" Considered by many critics as one of Dylan's masterpieces, "Visions of Johanna… Equally open to contradictory interpretation is the fiddler’s ‘everything’s been returned which was owed’. Little Boy Blue is the substitute. I think there is also the point that here we have one of the earliest songs in which Dylan forgets about any of the normal sequences of events. Louise is normalcy: familiar and near but banal. To the night-watchman the world appears pointless – mad. Even the Mona Lisa seems to the narrator to represent the misery of our existence. With this song, Dylan hit me from behind and I was never the same again. But ultimately, it is always the fact that Dylan expresses in words the feelings that the people in the story can’t express in words that makes it so wonderful. The song's working title was "Freeze Out." It would seem it is the visions, rather perhaps than the reality itself, which are impressing themselves on the narrator because we are told ‘Johanna’s not here’. And little boy lost, what of him? It would seem it is the visions, rather perhaps than the reality itself, which are impressing themselves on the narrator because we are told ‘Johanna’s not here’. Is the Great Cashout also the Great Renunciation? Awake and in dreams. He hits a soul note here that I have never had plucked before. The song is about hopelessness. Like a museum, existence in heaven will eventually just seem tedious. Like my best moments with Dylan, I remember an intuitive experience to this song. Not a girl, but greatness. But if we want to translate the music into something we can write about where better to start than with the end. We’re told that the ‘primitive wallflower’ freezes, but it’s the reader rather than the narrator who decides that it’s because she too, like Mona Lisa, has the ‘highway blues’ – meaning a miserable journey through life. I do think these two songs are related on the album as the flow is brilliant when looked at in this fashion. The suggestion could be that the visions are, at least in part, a false representation of reality – literally a result of a trick of the light. Overall she can be taken to represent good sense, love, understanding and kindness. Dylan plays the part of a singer on the road missing his wife. In the song “Absolute sweet Marie” he uses the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliette. And now back to the original article, which itself started with the finding of a video of Visions. "cage now corrode" implies that he now occupies that place. It tells me of the impossibility of having to live after a glimpse of eternity, the divine, God…fill in as you will. This may refer to Christ’s successful redemption of the world, but equally could be presumption on the part of the fiddler. The suggestion, then, is that our debt has to be paid by us as well as Christ, and our part is still to be paid. It went through many takes as Dylan tried to narrow down his vision. “The river whispers in my ear” as opposed to “Ain’t it just like the night…”. According to Dylan scholar Clinton Heylin, Dylan was living with his future wife Sara in the Chelsea Hotel when he wrote "Visions Of Johanna." In her 1975 song "Winds Of The Old Days," Joan Baez seems to be making the case that she is Johanna. Johanna not there - … Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously And when bringing her name up He speaks of a farewell kiss to me. The Chelsea Hotel has long been a New York City landmark, but even back then it was kind of dumpy. http://bobdylan.com/songs/abandoned-love/ You walk, you look, you wonder who on earth these odd characters are, and what they are doing here, and then remember some of them might be looking at you, wondering exactly the same. The key to the ideal/art, being illusive. Equally, though, since the fish in a truck are likely to be dead, they could be seen as representing the pointlessness of existence. As for the characters – who are they? It was a spooky occasion to say the least. Only when she forms one of the narrator’s possibly misleading visions is she presented in a negative way (‘bones’, ‘ghost’, ‘howling’) – a way which perhaps, in keeping with the visions generally, does not represent reality at least at its worst. It is the first volume in Kerouac's "Duluoz Legend". Finally, the album ends with Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, which compliments I Want You as its Bob trying to seal the deal with the one he likes. Dylan, originally a Jew, would have had a good knowledge of the poetical implications of referring, obliquely, to Gehenna. The narrator is fully aware of how important the art he’s creating is. "Visions of Johanna" is a song by Bob Dylan from the 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. Later I heard the etherial, ghostly live version on Biograph, and the wrecked-dawn Australian performance, and fell in love with the song all over again, but nothing would ever match that first moment on the floor, the vacuum cleaner blasting the news and the insinuating voice of Bob Dylan, very close – and very far away. Email Tony@schools.co.uk, And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, links back to our reviews. Visions of Gerard is a novel by American Beat writer Jack Kerouac. I think that Louise is Sarah, Johanna is Suze and Little boy lost is Dylan. Even though he’s left the Madonna (Joan/Johanna), and reassures himself that everything is paid that was owed, he’s appropriately haunted. If true, that could explain the lyric, "These heat pipes just cough." The song is ranked #404 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Tombstone Blues (1965) part VIII       Ninety Nine Years, After the tour: the creation of a new style of songwriting, Scorsese and Dylan: A Match Made in Fantasy, Untold Dylan: “I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours”. (infinity goes up on trial). (Everything’s returned which was owed). Little Boy Lost is Dylan’s psychedelicized view of the self-important but ultimately trivial and inconsequential “poet” “spokesman” etc. He just wants to find Johanna – maybe his wife – who should not have those strong politically ideas. As I got older & got to understand a lot of what he was/ is saying, it made them even more wonderful & powerful. Famous real-life people named Johanna. Describing "Visions of Johanna" as "Dylan's most haunting and complex love song and his finest poem", Robert Shelton suggests that Dylan "constantly seeks to transcend the physical world, to reach the ideal where the visions of Johanna become real". "Mr. Jones" took on new meaning when the song about a misguided view of fame made Adam famous. Bob wonders if it’s all worth it. Your email address will not be published. Yet the narrator sees only a representation of sadness. And not having ‘showed’ might suggest not going to show. I.E. Where are the Visions of Louise? Considered among Dylan's greatest works, Dylan referred to it as his favorite song on the album which captured that "thin, wild mercury sound". Fleetwood Mac's "Gypsy" is about Stevie Nicks' best friend, who died of leukemia. Verse 5. ~Joan Baez. By the time of his stay at the Chelsea Hotel- and the NYC blackout, when biographers tell us he wrote “Visions of Johanna” ( or “Freeze Out” or whatever the working title) he had long since written in “Newport Folk Festival Program” the following: And in that one simple line, “How can I explain?” Dylan speaks for his entire audience of the late 1960s who found themselves disenfranchised from communication with their parents, their university lecturers, their elders and betters, and even, perhaps worst of all, their contemporaries, to whom they could not explain their feelings. She can see it all from different points of views. Little Boy Lost is what brings up the Visions of Johanna such as the “farewell kiss to me” and it’s that “these visions of Johanna, they kept me up past dawn.” By the end of the song, it is clear to the speaker where his place is with Johanna. Johanna is death; Louise is reality; “The one with the moustache” is Salvador Dali. Live Version Of. Louise, Johanna, and Little Boy Lost, three characters in search of a home, a real world, a way of talking to each other, a way of being. It is a notion Bob continued to play with through his writing career, including such masterpieces as Tangled up in Blue, which deals with the issue in such a different way. Jun 16, 2018 - "I have been true to the principles of nonviolence, developing a stronger and stronger aversion to the ideologies of both the far right and the far left and a deeper sense of rage and sorrow over the suffering they continue to produce all over the world." I knew a girl, or should I say she once knew me circa early 70’s. I do enjoy hearing all of the opinions too though. So what are the "visions of Johanna that conquer my mind," and who is "Louise?" This impressionist is, it seems to me, incomparable to the poet of later works such as Long Black Coat , “Mississippi”, “Highlands”, Green Mountain – by analogy: the … But immediately all hope disappears for this is no more than ‘The last twist of the knife’. Johanna is the ideal (of a more authentic existence) that might be perceived from this or some other “egoless” perspective, yet can not be maintained or possessed permanently. The irrational as opposed to the rational. Andy Gill is quoted in the Wiki article on the song as suggesting it is the enigmatic quality of the song that is responsible for its popularity—’forever teetering on the brink of lucidity, yet remaining impervious to strict decipherment”. The ‘little boy lost’ not only ‘brags’ of his misery, suggesting it might not really be genuine misery, but will (according to Blake from whom the phrase ‘little boy lost’ is taken) be a ‘little boy found’ – by God. See more ideas about Joan baez, Joan, Visions of johanna. And now try this – the remarkable reworking of the song by Dylan on stage. ‘The fiddler’ is the client (Bob). "Losing My Religion" isn't about religion, but unrequited love. The singer/bassist for Concrete Blonde talks about how her songs come from clairvoyance, and takes us through the making of their hit "Joey.". And probably will do for a long time yet. After that, I wanted to hear more & more Bob. This is Dylan’s reply to Eliot. Johanna Spyri, author of the children's story "Heidi". So too does the listener. By then, recording had moved to Nashville, Tennessee. If you don’t know this version, and you are a Dylan I defy you not to be moved. We don’t know, and it doesn’t matter what is happening, nor at which time it is happening. The wail of the harmonica as the sounds that open any door when you are just standing there desperate to get out of this environment into any other environment. We see this empty cage now corrode Written By Bob Dylan. The name Johanna is a girl's name of Hebrew, German origin meaning "God is gracious". As in ‘Rhapsody’, hope is not the final suggestion, however. Louise has no doubt about her political foundation. Medley looks back on "Unchained Melody" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" - his huge hits from the '60s that were later revived in movies. The insanity is his creative side, like Van Gogh. But that doesn’t mean that his lyrics can’t withstand close reading. he has returned which is exactly what the fiddler means when he writes. Considered among Dylan's greatest works, Dylan referred to it as his favorite song on the album which captured that "thin, wild mercury sound". And that sounds right to me. Read More » In a lot described as ’empty’, ‘ladies’ resort to playing a mere children’s game, and prostitutes try to escape their miserable reality by indulging in escapist fantasy. The extra h makes Johanna a slightly more dignified version of Joanna. This was nine days before recording the final, definitive version recorded in Nashville. The narrator sees no hope in heaven as an escape from this world’s emptiness because heaven (‘salvation’) will be no better than a museum, a vast hall for dead people. It would seem that either the narrator is the fiddler, or is someone who at least sees himself reflected in the fiddler. Dylan thinks about himself (Little Boy Lost) as the ‘serious’ artist on tour. He did not find the politically answers there. I didn’t understand why, but know now that she knew she would be my vision of Johanna for all time. Example sentences with "Visions of Johanna", translation memory. "Visions of Johanna" And Madonna she still hasn't showed Jesus hasn't showed We see this empty cage now corrode the empty cage stands for a place where jesus is not yet but where he must eventually be. The emptiness of existence, a world which self-destructively ‘corrodes’, continues. I picked myself up off the floor a different person, one who’d come to love words and their play. He identifies with Mona Lisa; who has the highway blues and a painted mustache (like one of the jelly-faced women). Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link. As he leaves he thinks again of Johanna and feels a pang of guilt. I could never penetrate its spooky atmosphere. Greil Marcus, another esteemed Dylan scholar, narrowed it down to an even more specific timeframe. And indeed come to that where are they now, 40 or more years since the song was written? The next song leads to I Want You, which after Bob deals with regret, he deals with moving on and realizing who he wants now is someone he better hold onto, perhaps a lesson from the previous partner spoken of in the two songs prior. Way back in the 70s I was at college with a guy who was a great fan of Dylan and the poetical side of his songs. Dylan is with a prostitute (Louise). Louise crops up in a number of places and is presented in various ways. Please also see the Old Crow Medicine Show version reviewed – I think you might enjoy that. Did they stay in touch? Your email address will not be published. I can’t understand why people think it’s so mysterious ! Mona Lisa is smiling. In 1999, Sir Andrew Motion, the poet laureate,  nominated Visions as the greatest song lyric ever written. Later she shows understanding when she criticises the cynical peddler – the drug supplier, representing a false escape from reality. translation and definition "Visions of Johanna", Dictionary English-English online. These days it takes a lot to stop me dead in my tracks while thinking about “Visions” but that happened when I found the recording below. I love the “Blonde on Blonde” version of this song …Bob’s voice is so powerful – just perfect Bob with all of his original Bob sounds & extras of how he sings his words. “We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it” – just as Eliot’s characters are, but the causes and cures are different. The narrator experiences certain visions and these seem to be of a world which is empty, miserable and without decent prospects. And then perhaps we can move back to the very start. Hope for the future on earth is equally missing. The title is based on a Southern expression meaning "at my wit's end. We can know what ‘salvation must like after a while’ but not salvation itself. Part of the songwriter’s skill is to force our decisions. The ghost of electricity Howls in the bones of her face Where these visions of Johanna Have now taken my place. This article updated most recently 4 March 2020. (museums). It is that sort of a song. I think key words are “mirror” and “conscience explodes”. And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind In the empty lot where the ladies play blindman’s bluff with the key chain And the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the “D” train We can hear the night watchman click his flashlight Ask himself if it’s him or … Join us inside Bob Dylan’s Music Box http://thebobdylanproject.com/Song/id/709/Visions-of-Johanna and listen to all the great versions. also “Tight Connection to My Heart” and the later remake of it, “Someone’s got a Hold of my Heart”, with the line “I keep seeing visions of you, a lily among thorns”. That Johanna's not here. I’ve always loved how he words things in his lyrics, his voice & how he performs them. Several critics have acclaimed "Visions of Johanna" as one of Dylan's highest achievements in writing, praising the allusiveness and subtlety of the language. Johanna is not here, but the Visions of Johanna are all that remain. These things exist beyond any concept of time. who mutters small talk at the wall while the real artist is stuck out in the hall, hoping Little Boy will either allow him into the room or step out into the outdoors with him. Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos. Babette earlier mentioned “Abandoned Love” and I think that is tied in with “Visions” and I'll be uploading a fifty-minute project of Dylan material this Saturday, so stay tuned! "I think the words are great and the imagery in the verses is fantastic," he, More songs with girls' names in the title, David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears. He reflects on women in various situations but not nice women, lost women, perhaps he only available women, or the women he has time for. The emptiness is also represented by a radio programme so devoid of value that it’s not even worth switching off. It’s not just the narrator who opts for seeing the world in a negative way. He sees a woman, perhaps a prostitute, who is poor and ageing, ‘the border of her dress … torn and stained with sand’. Anyone who knows me, knows of my Dylan “addiction” & I love reading about him & all things Dylan. They had all the easy answers and there were no room for reflection. We'll never know for sure, and it seems Dylan intended it that way. How does he manage that? “The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face/Where these visions of Johanna, have now taken my place.” Johanna is fully revealed to be the spiritual, incorporeal, eternal energy of the human being, as contrasted with Louise, the physical, sensual, and comparatively mundane. A series of dreams: the video – who and how. Visions of Johanna is one of Dylan most ambitious lyrics, and for that reason alone it’s due much respect. Outside things appear to be no better. Christ’s second coming is still awaited despite his (Madonna’s) not having yet ‘showed’. The longtime BS&T frontman tells the "Spinning Wheel" story, including the line he got from Joni Mitchell. The fiddler, he now steps to the road. Wond’ring where you are tonight, sweet Marie” The year was 1966. Been listening to Bob since I was a little girl (born fall of ’74, I was probably around 7 or 8 when my dad played “Like a Rolling Stone” on a favorite cassette mix tape he had) I didn’t even know what it meant, but I loved it. From another song: Abandoned-love If Johanna is taken to represent the world as it is – reality – then the visions of Johanna are the world as it now appears to the narrator. Which is a shame because it is one of, it not the completely most favourite song of mine ever. This adds credibility to the claim that Dylan wrote it during the New York City blackout. On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, please do drop me a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article. To counter the Existentialist view that humans have no essence but into this world are born and alone, Dylan calls upon Swedenborg’s vision that we are all ‘inflowed’ by pre-existing, shades and spirits, in varying degrees, some dark and some light: the ghosts of electricity howl in the bones of her face. Sometimes Bob is obscure and sometimes he’s clear but I’ve always felt this song is one of the clear ones. Visions of Johanna is spiritual and historical. Yes Tony another fine analysis of this song. The unsightliness of her eye reminds him of a dead branch, ‘as if the world gave up the secret of its skeleton’, and a rusty, useless spring . I was nineteen years old. Louise’s pimp turns up. [7] Verse 3. In fact the narrator’s outlook is unduly pessimistic . Even lovers of art will not find “salvation.”. Someone had lent me ‘Blonde on Blonde’ and I was playing it on an incredibly crappy old record player with the vacuum cleaner going. An extended, impressionistic account of a woozy New York City night, rich in pictorial detail and erotic longing, the five long verses zigzag between Dylan's acute dissection of one woman, the tangible and available Louise, and his longing for an absent ideal. The song was first recorded on November 30, 1965, in Columbia's Studio A. Bob pays and leaves. This is why the artist is away from his love. I’ve been really enjoying this blog lately in my down time at work, so thank you for that! The part about the pipes was most likely about the literal heating pipes of the Chelsea. And we gain this song in which Dylan is writing about people who can’t express themselves, who don’t understand their own emotions and feelings, who are lost, existing in a mist, in a set of visions…   Surely one of the hardest concepts to write about. I’ve always seen Visions of Johanna as a very simple song. Just as in ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’ night-time is the setting for ‘Visions of Johanna’, and here too the light produces distortions which cause the world to be viewed in an insightful way. And she represents generosity in that she ‘prepares’ for him, rather than indulging in a pretence of care like the countess. When Visions came on I actually fell to floor and glued my ear that shitty little speaker. well rendered subject matter on a haunted stage. Little Boy Lost reminds the narrator that Johanna kissed him goodbye when he set off on tour. He claims the song was written during the East Coast blackout that hit New York and seven other states on November 9, 1965. If I was in charge of the man’s epitaph (ponder that assignment) I would have chiseled.”And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain.” It’s for all time. Throughout my (almost) 43 years, I’ve always explored here & there finding ‘new’ Dylan recordings to fall in love with. Ed Sheeran's "Bloodstream" was written after an experience taking MDMA during a wedding celebration in Ibiza, and it's basically about all the feelings that he got from that time. And an unsophisticated young girl, the ‘primitive wallflower’, freezes – presumably in horror – when the appearance of the jelly-faced women makes her realise what the future has in store for her (like mirrors reflecting her future, in the way Louise seems to be a mirror for the narrator). This is one of my fav songs ever & definitely my fav on this record. Required fields are marked *, The meaning behind the music and words of Bob Dylan. We live in California, and I will share some off the beaten path places, some tourist stops that we do frequent, and tips on when the best time is to visit. As to the two women in the song – now presumably in their sixties – what are they up to? And the fact that Christ’s blood ‘once flowed’ suggests that it isn’t doing so any more. Here's an excerpt that I thought should be released on its own. I’ve always thought that Louise was referring to Louisiana and Johanna to Johannesburg. song found in his “Anthology” LPs (Harry Smith-6 disc favorite source) And I’ll go with that too. The song – poem describes it all in The lack of hope for the future is represented by the museums which are empty (‘voices echo)’ – presumably vast halls containing only long-dead things. Whether it was the awareness in his voice, the atmosphere conjured in the music, or the images painted by the lyrics… I can’t say. Save perhaps for “Tell Ol Bill” which also gives us a world of atmosphere and ideas. Won’t you let me see you smile one time before I turn you loose? These verses are straight forward descriptions of what Dylan sees and feels in the room, heat pipes, radio, all night girls outside etc. Madonna, if taken as a representation of Christ rather than Mary, can also be taken to represent hope. Deconstructive or any other) commentary welcome. I luv Phil Jacobs interpretation of this song best in the comments here. And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain. And I think of that now, and my dear friend Kati, who I spent that evening with, who sadly passed away unexpectedly earlier this year, and my sadness remembering that, becomes entangled with my thoughts of the mists surrounding that song. To say this song is specifically about the late 60’s and the generation gap is just wrong. This website /bloggo-space rocks! Early on,Bob Dylan sang almost exclusively from the traditional canon. I couldn’t believe such a song could exist, that you could do this kind of thing with words and sounds. 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