Pod Dylan #69 – Visions of Johanna


Episode 69 - Visions of Johanna

Rob welcomes fellow Bobcat Cameron Artigue to discuss one of Bob Dylan's finest songs, "Visions of Johanna", from 1966's BLONDE ON BLONDE.

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10 responses to “Pod Dylan #69 – Visions of Johanna

  1. I haven’t listened to BLONDE ON BLONDE in months and months but had this song pop into my head earlier this week…. WHAT THE HELL?! I guess I know what album I need to put on loop.

  2. Another great one! This is easily in my top 20 Bob songs. I know it’s almost cliche to love this album, but it really is something else.

  3. Congratulations on a standout episode! Cameron did his homework on this one, which fueled some interesting and insightful discussion. I particularly enjoyed the what you both had to say about originality. I’ve always liked the idea that you only believe something is original when you don’t know it’s source. In the end, everything “new” is built on what came before.

    Also, this is a total stab in the dark, but when you guys mentioned the line about the jewels and binoculars on the mules head, I pictured the binoculars as a pair opera glasses in my mind. I don’t know of any operas or plays featuring a mule, but A Midsummer Night’s Dream does have a man who’s head is transformed into that of a donkey. I have no idea what that would have to do with this song, other than the fact that the play is all about love (both requited and unrequited) and relationships. I know that’s really stretching it, but that’s all I got.


  4. I would have bet that you’d already covered this song. But even if you have, this was a fascinating and worthwhile discussion! I am often more interested in the analysis and annotations of Dylan’s songs than I am in listening to Dylan’s songs. Cameron’s careful observations about the lyrical antecedents and the timeline surrounding the writing and recording(s) of the song were compelling listening!
    Beyond the lyrical analysis however, is the feeling this song evokes. That time in lower Manhattan, pre-inflation, resonates with my memories of being fresh out of college and hanging out with friends in their first cheap apartments in Boston. Seeking the bohemian lifestyle, staying up really late, desiring a close companion…it seems so much a young person’s song.

  5. Wow what a treat this episode was!!

    I really loved this insights into the inspiration for some of the classic Visions phrases – especially the tribute to Ginsberg.

    I was struck while listening to it that it is so unique (almost bizarre) to undertaker in so much speculation as to the meaning f the writings of someone who is living. This sort of discussion usually belongs to the Ancient Greek poets….just a testament to how significant and mysterious Bob is.

    A privilege that I will get to see him live on August 14th….

  6. Great episode. Appreciated the insight on this amazing song. I got to experience an amazing live performance in 1999 at the Tramps show. https://youtu.be/jcVCkZ8_luQ

    Toward the end he does have one interesting lyric change that’s always stuck with me. He says “these visions of Madonna…” maybe it was just a mistake. Maybe not?

  7. Most excellent episode. “Visions” fits in soooo perfectly with my other favorite “poetry” tracks, “Gates of Eden” and “It’s Alright, Ma”. I’m always a sucker for an intellectual song.

    Btw, though I enjoy the original “Blonde On Blonde” version, I gotta say, the live version from the “Biograph” is my absolute favorite. There’s something intimate about all the live versions, but this one just hits me where it counts every single time I listen to. Which is probably why it’s track one on my Dylan playlist on my phone.

    And one last thing…my car and home got hit by lighting about six weeks ago and the car was totaled. I had the good fortune to drive a 2017 ford fusion hybrid for a week. While having an absolute blast with Apple Car Play features one the radio, I truly discovered the alternate take of “Visions of Johanna” that’s on Bootleg Series vol. 7: No Direction Home. And I freakin’ love it. )Rob, I speculate this is the version (Backed by The Hawkes) that you refereed on the show that you don’t really shine to). And though I can agree it is quite different from any other versions I’ve listened to, I like it when Dylan shifts out of his usual space and goes all rockin’. In much the same vein as with “Outlaw Blues”, which I also love, where the song just kinda lopes along at a pretty nice clip. Just plain good stuff.

  8. Exactly right, allusion is a literary tool, it is NOT plagiarism. It connects one piece to another and adds to the analysis of the work. So the literary critic should note the allusion to Ginsberg, read it, and now have another avenue or filter to read the song. Anyone suggesting otherwise needs a couple of introductory English lit courses.

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