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Bob Dylan – Series of Dreams

October 11, 2008 2 comments

While my wife delivers a late night training session, I sit here in the hospital lobby listening to Bob Dylan’s recent release Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol 8. After listening to most of the album, I get stuck on the song Series of Dreams.

I can’t move on but listen over and over and over. When songs like this impact me, I am always asking myself, “Why?” Not sure I can explain, but here are thoughts echoing through my head. The rhythm is relentless forcefully driving the melody forward. The lyrics and the melody are repetitive, interacting with the dramatic tension of the drums to arrest my attention–much like some of the surf songs in the mid-60s. With minor variations in the melody at the end, Dylan brings a limited resolve to the tension, but it is incomplete.

For me, this tension highlights the spoken/sung lyrics that paint a series of pictures about unresolved tension within dreams. In these dreams, “time and tempo fly” as the dreamer is left running, climbing, and witnessing troubled scenes.

“And there’s no exit in any direction, ‘cept the one you can’t see with you eyes.”

In the middle of the song, Dylan offers this one line of transcendent hope. And I am reminded that in the middle of this life of struggle and doubt and fear and pain, hope may be the one real thing penetrating the illusions that so often pervade my thoughts. Oddly enough, as I’ve been listening to this tune over and over, I’ve also been reading St. Paul’s discussion of Abraham’s hope beyond hope.

The future was hopeless. Yet Abraham persisted in trusting the promise of God’s goodness. In this hope that endures the dark nightmares of failure, the future shines out with the surprise of love.

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