Saturday, February 17, 2018

Patti Smith: Changing of the Guards (2007)


Patti Smith [born in 1946 in Chicago] singing her wonderful interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “Changing of the Guards,” the seventh track on her tenth studio album Twelve (2007), her album of cover songs.
Via: Youtube


This one was written and released in 1978 by Bob Dylan, the poet-songwriter who was given the Nobel Prize in Literature (2016) for his words to us. You can view Dylan [here] singing the song, a rare performance, in a 1978 concert in Charlotte, N.C. The song is the first song on his 18th studio album Street Legal (1978)The song is full of biblical allusions and symbolism, particularly from the New Testament. Its social commentary, right on the mark, is spoken and understood by the common man, by the meek of the earth who carry some hope in their hearts. Desperate men, desperate women divided/Spreading their wings ’neath the falling leaves.

Changing of the Guards by Bob Dylan

Sixteen years
Sixteen banners united over the field
Where the good shepherd grieves
Desperate men, desperate women divided
Spreading their wings ’neath the falling leaves

Fortune calls
I stepped forth from the shadows to the marketplace
Merchants and thieves, hungry for power, my last deal gone down
She's smelling sweet like the meadows where she was born
On midsummer's eve, near the tower

The cold-blooded moon
The captain waits above the celebration
Sending his thoughts to a beloved maid
Whose ebony face is beyond communication
The captain is down but still believing that his love will be repaid

They shaved her head
She was torn between Jupiter and Apollo
A messenger arrived with a black nightingale
I seen her on the stairs and I couldn't help but follow
Follow her down past the fountain where they lifted her veil

I stumbled to my feet
I rode past destruction in the ditches
With the stitches still mending 'neath a heart-shaped tattoo
Renegade priests and treacherous young witches
Were handing out the flowers that I'd given to you

The palace of mirrors
Where dog soldiers are reflected
The endless road and the wailing of chimes
The empty rooms where her memory is protected
Where the angels’ voices whisper to the souls of previous times

She wakes him up
Forty-eight hours later, the sun is breaking
Near broken chains, mountain laurel and rolling rocks
She’s begging to know what measures he now will be taking
He’s pulling her down and she’s clutching on to his long golden locks

Gentlemen, he said
I don’t need your organization, I’ve shined your shoes
I’ve moved your mountains and marked your cards
But Eden is burning, either getting ready for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards

Peace will come
With tranquility and splendor on the wheels of fire
But will bring us no reward when her false idols fall

And cruel death surrenders with its pale ghost retreating
Between the King and the Queen of Swords

*******************
Dylan is enigmatic, which is the way a poet ought to be, sayin’ what needs sayin’ in his collected writings. Take, for example, his 1984 interview in Rolling Stone.

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