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Music and the JFK Assassination


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I always thought that in the "American Pie" lyrics above, the "King" was Elvis and the "Jester" was Bob Dylan.

Note that elsewhere in the song, we see "the Jester on the sidelines, in a cast" - a reference to Dylan's late-1960s hiatus after his motorcycle accident.

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I always thought that in the "American Pie" lyrics above, the "King" was Elvis and the "Jester" was Bob Dylan.

Note that elsewhere in the song, we see "the Jester on the sidelines, in a cast" - a reference to Dylan's late-1960s hiatus after his motorcycle accident.

"What is Don McLean's song "American Pie" all about?"

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/908/what-is-don-mcleans-song-american-pie-all-about

Includes a reply from McLean

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August 4, 1965

They're selling postcards of the hanging

They're painting the passports brown

The beauty parlor is filled with sailors

The circus is in town

Here comes the blind commissioner

They've got him in a trance

One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker

The other is in his pants

And the riot squad they're restless

They need somewhere to go

As Lady and I look out tonight

From Desolation Row.

Cinderella, she seems so easy

"It takes one to know one," she smiles

And puts her hands in her back pockets

Bette Davis style

And in comes Romeo, he's moaning

"You belong to Me I Believe"

And someone says, "You're in the wrong place, my friend

You better leave"

And the only sound that's left

After the ambulances go

Is Cinderella sweeping up

On Desolation Row.

Now the moon is almost hidden

The stars are beginning to hide

The fortunetelling lady

Has even taken all her things inside

All except for Cain and Abel

And the hunchback of Notre Dame

Everybody is making love

Or else expecting rain

And the Good Samaritan, he's dressing

He's getting ready for the show

He's going to the carnival tonight

On Desolation Row.

Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window

For her I feel so afraid

On her twenty-second birthday

She already is an old maid

To her, death is quite romantic

She wears an iron vest

Her profession's her religion

Her sin is her lifelessness

And though her eyes are fixed upon

Noah's great rainbow

She spends her time peeking

Into Desolation Row.

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood

With his memories in a trunk

Passed this way an hour ago

With his friend, a jealous monk

He looked so immaculately frightful

As he bummed a cigarette

Then he went off sniffing drainpipes

And reciting the alphabet

You would not think to look at him

But he was famous long ago

For playing the electric violin

On Desolation Row.

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world

Inside of a leather cup

But all his sexless patients

They're trying to blow it up

Now his nurse, some local loser

She's in charge of the cyanide hole

And she also keeps the cards that read

"Have Mercy on His Soul"

They all play on penny whistles

You can hear them blow

If you lean your head out far enough

From Desolation Row.

Across the street they've nailed the curtains

They're getting ready for the feast

The Phantom of the Opera

In a perfect image of a priest

They're spoonfeeding Casanova

To get him to feel more assured

Then they'll kill him with self-confidence

After poisoning him with words

And the Phantom's shouting to skinny girls

"Get outa here if you don't know"

Casanova is just being punished for going

To Desolation Row.

At midnight all the agents

And the superhuman crew

Come out and round up everyone

That knows more than they do

Then they bring them to the factory

Where the heart-attack machine

Is strapped across their shoulders

And then the kerosene

Is brought down from the castles

By insurance men who go

Check to see that nobody is escaping

To Desolation Row.

They be to Nero's Neptune

The Titanic sails at dawn

Everybody's shouting

"Which side are you on ?"

And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot

Fighting in the captain's tower

While calypso singers laugh at them

And fishermen hold flowers

Between the windows of the sea

Where lovely mermaids flow

And nobody has to think too much

About Desolation Row.

Yes, I received your letter yesterday

About the time the door knob broke

When you asked me how I was doing

Was that some kind of joke ?

All these people that you mention

Yes, I know them, they're quite lame

I had to rearrange their faces

And give them all another name

Right now I can't read too good

Dont send me no more letters no

Not unless you mail them

From Desolation Row.

Bob Dylan

***

This has always been one of my very favorite songs. The finest art always leaves one pondering unanswered questions while addressing the human spirit, it doesn't serve it's message on a silver platter, but causes the viewer or listener to think about it's message long after the piece has been left- this tune, in my opinion, calls up specfic images of the assassination in the larger context of the destruction of the American Dream due to the lust for power, greed, and general secrecy brought about by the shredding of our Constitution by secretive men behind the scenes.

To me it is America's best songwriter's greatest effort. Interestingly, the author admits during the telling of changing names. One does not have to ponder why very much.

Some telling points about the song.

1. "Their selling postcards of the hanging" What event is better described by this simple description? How many postcards and momentos of this event were made? How like an execution was the assassination, really?

2. The "beauty parlor" which is full of "sailors" (naval personal in Bethesda) is where JFK's autopsy and head resconstruction afterwards, to make him look nice again, were done.

3. "The Circus is in town" Indeed.

4. "Here comes the blind commissioner- they've got him in a trance" Does this not perfectly describe the situation with Earl Warren? If ever there was an investigator who did not wish to see the truth, it was Earl.

5. "One hand is tied to the tightrope walker, the other is in his pants". Warren being lead down the tightrope while he is playing with his own huge ego fits perfectly.

6. "As Lady and I look out tonight from Desolation Row" Told from the perspective of the new President and Ladybird, of course.

7. "Cinderella", I think, is Jackie in ashes.

8. "In comes Romeo, he's moaning, 'You belong to me I believe" is Bobby, who thinks the Presidency ought to be his, is threatened that "He better leave".

9. Interestingly, Dylan predicts more deaths in the line-

"And the only sound that's left

After the ambulanceS go

Is Cinderella sweeping up

On Desolation Row."

10. In the television footage of the funeral, as JFK's coffin marches off under a flag, we pan up to see an American flag, fluttering in the breeze with it's stars only partly visible on the national wide news. The star studded coffin marches sadly out of sight. In my opinion, the following line is pure songwriting genius, doubling America's falling freedoms up with the funeral flag stars "begining to hide".

"Now the moon is almost hidden

The stars are beginning to hide"

11."And the Good Samaritan, he's dressing

He's getting ready for the show

He's going to the carnival tonight

On Desolation Row."

The Carnival is generally the investigation by the Warren Commission. Arlan Spector a lovely candidate for The Good Samaritan.

12. "Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window

For her I feel so afraid

On her twenty-second birthday

She already is an old maid

To her, death is quite romantic

She wears an iron vest

Her profession's her religion

Her sin is her lifelessness

And though her eyes are fixed upon

Noah's great rainbow

She spends her time peeking

Into Desolation Row."

This whole verse is purely Oswald who is "Ophelia 'neath the window".

"On her twenty-second birthday" he is really 'born' to the public eye on Nov. 22. Think about that!

"she wears an iron vest" and "her profession's her religion" suggests a nod to Oswald's supposed communist ties, or perhaps a sly hint at Oswald's intelligence operative status. Very cool writing here, masterful, puzzling and understated. Very beautiful.

"And though her eyes are fixed upon

Noah's great rainbow

She spends her time peeking

Into Desolation Row"

In my opinion, the above is suggestive of Oswald loving his country, and it's promise about having to do with goodness and God, but that Oswald spends his time being involved in the shady underpinnings of American Intelligence, which is the exact opposite of the promise of our Constitution. I consider this the finest moment from this memorable classic. It is so very sad, compelling, and tragic.

I'm going to stop here with my intrepetation of the song. The rest of it obviously deals with a lot of the horrible crap that is done in the shadowy world that has been overtaking our country. I think it's no wonder Dylan had to be so vague about the intentions of this profound and moving song in order to see it published with doing mayhem to his own life.

I am not saying my thoughts on this song are a widespread theory about what Dylan means to represent- in fact, I know of no one who has offered this sort of viewing of this classic tune. But, if you consider when it was written, and what was happening in the country at that time, I think it is as valid an opinion as any. There are a few key phrases that are extremely strong hints about what it is really referring to.

I will be interested to see if anyone agrees with me on this.

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With all due respect Patrick unless you can point to an interview with Dylan or someone close to him saying the song referred to the assassination you're stretching more than Richard Simmons.

Edited by Len Colby
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