Interpreting "Gates of Eden" for fun - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle — LiveJournal
Jun. 14th, 2009
03:07 am - Interpreting "Gates of Eden" for fun
Ever heard Bob Dylan's song "Gates of Eden"? It's one of his songs with lyrics that seem to make no sense. Those are always fun to try to interpret. Here are the lyrics (with the verses numbered for convenience):
"Gates of Eden"
words and music by Bob Dylan
Of war and peace the truth just twists
Its curfew gull just glides
Upon four-legged forest clouds
The cowboy angel rides
With his candle lit into the sun
Though its glow is waxed in black
All except when 'neath the trees of Eden.
The lamppost stands with folded arms
Its iron claws attached
To curbs 'neath holes where babies wail
Though it shadows metal badge
All and all can only fall
With a crashing but meaningless blow
No sound ever comes from the Gates of Eden.
The savage soldier sticks his head in sand
And then complains
Unto the shoeless hunter who's gone deaf
But still remains
Upon the beach where hound dogs bay
At ships with tatooed sails
Heading for the Gates of Eden.
With a time-rusted compass blade
Alladin and his lamp
Sits with Utopian hermit monks
Side saddle on the Golden Calf
And on their promises of paradise
You will not hear a laugh
All except inside the Gates of Eden.
Relationships of ownership
They whisper in the wings
To those condemned to act accordingly
And wait for succeeding kings
And I will try to harmonize with songs
The lonesome sparrow sings
There are no kings inside the Gates of Eden.
The motorcycle black madonna
Two-wheeled gypsy queen
And her silver-studded phantom cause
The gray flannel dwarf to scream
As he weeps to wicked birds of prey
Who pick up on his bread crumb sins
And there are no sins inside the Gates of Eden.
The kingdoms of Experience
In the precious wind they rot
While paupers change possessions
Each one wishing for what the other has got
And the princess and the prince
Discuss what's real and what is not
It doesn't matter inside the Gates of Eden.
The foreign sun, it squints upon
A bed that is never mine
As friends and other strangers
From their fates try to resign
Leaving men wholly totally free
To do anything they wish to do but die
And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden.
At dawn my lower comes to me
And tells me of her dreams
With no attempts to shovel the glimpse
Into the ditch of what each one means
At times I think there are no words
But these to tell what's true
And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden.
This song has many possible interpretations. It could be about the actual Biblical garden of Eden, or it could be about dreams, or love, or whatever. I just thought of a new possible hypothetical interpretation...
The "gates of Eden" are the internet. Obviously, this couldn't possibly be what Dylan had in mind when he wrote the song in 1965. But it's fun to reread the lyrics from this viewpoint.
Verse 1: The internet know-it-all, who considers himself a "cowboy angel" come to sort out a long drawn-out internet argument (of war and peace the truth just twists). In real life, nobody pays attention to him (his candle's glow is waxed in black), but on the internet, he can act like a big shot.
Verse 2: A popular site (held up by the "lamppost"?) goes down (in a "crashing" but meaningless blow), causing newbies (babies) to complain (wail) on their own blogs (holes).
Verse 3: The internet argument continues, between the "savage soldiers" and "shoeless hunters" who don't know what they're talking about and mindlessly bicker in a forum (beach) intended for some specific topic (ships with tattooed sails) but better known for its flamewars and drama (hound dogs baying).
Verse 4: This verse is clearly about Apple. :} (Perhaps in this case the "Gates" of Eden is Bill?)
Verse 5: Online discussions of copyright as pertaining to art and music, by people who hope the laws will change for the better (waiting for succeeding kings). Also mentions how hard it is to find music videos on YouTube anymore; you look for it and all you can find is concert footage and covers by amateur musicians (lonesome sparrows).
Verse 6 makes fun of internet trolls (grey flannel dwarfs) who habitually react with horror to people with weird hobbies (the motorcycle black Madonna and the silver-studded phantom), and continually post to online communities dedicated to mock outrage.
Verse 7: eBay.
Verse 8: The typical night owl stays up all night gazing at the monitor (the foreign sun) instead of going to bed, chatting with his friends who roleplay, discuss things, argue about things, all of no physical consequence (no dying, no trials) because it's all words on a screen.
Verse 9: LJ. Twitter. E-mail. Wikipedia. What have you.