Bob Dylan  Nobel Prize Winner 2016 for Literature. Go to my Bob Dylan song analysis page to find out that Bob fully deserved to win this prestigious prize.

Bezoekers vandaag: 234Bezoekers totaal: 367689
Welcome to the website of Kees de Graaf
Kees de Graaf keesdegraaf.com
 

Bob Dylan's 'Pay in Blood' - an analysis - Part 1 - Introduction-

Introduction.

‘Pay in Blood’ is another intriguing and fascinating song from the album ‘Tempest’. At first glance the lyrics of this song seem to dripping in blood, are full of hatred, violence and vengeance of a battered, spiteful, poet who apparently has a hard believing whether he will make it back home alive and who is ready- without showing any mercy whatsoever - to have his enemies pay in full for all the wrongs they have done.
In some sort of a sense, the song breathes the same atmosphere as some songs on Dylan’s album ‘Modern Times’. On that album and on ‘Tempest’ as well, and in particular in this song, we see some of the violent struggle, abundantly present in the Old Testament where the resistance against the promised road, which will ultimately lead to the promised Savior, the Messiah – Yeshua- Jesus, is so strong and violent that there is no alternative left but to combat this resistance with equally violent weapons. In this respect the New Testament has taken a new and decisive turn and we will also find this back in the song - as we will see later on.  
The key to understanding the song is hidden in the refrain: ‘I pay in blood, but not my own’.  Raised in the Jewish tradition and faith, Dylan is fully aware of what ‘to pay in blood’ means. The Thora makes it clear that life itself – the soul of man, in Hebrew ‘Nefesh’ – is in the blood of a man.  This principle of the life being in the blood is made clear in Leviticus 17:11: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar. It is the blood that makes atonement for one's life”. Reconciliation between God and man has to be made and can only be achieved through payment in blood. In the Thora, in the Old Testament, animals took the place of man and were sacrificed on the altar and the blood of these animals brought about reconciliation between God and man. This was all done in anticipation of the real Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who came and sacrificed himself by shedding his precious blood and by doing so  ransomed the world ( I Peter 1:19).Jesus Christ paid in full by his blood for the sins of the whole world. So when the poet says: ‘I pay in blood’ it is as if he were saying: “I’m no better a man than anyone else in this fallen world. I fully participate in the human condition. The human condition is in itself full of evil, of hatred, of violence, of vengeance and retribution, I see this when I look around this world, and when I’m honest, I find it also in myself. This world is hopelessly forlorn and so am I. To set things right there is only one way out. Reconciliation – redemption- payment –atonement - has to be made. There is only one sacrifice that God will accept to reconcile himself with this world and with me personally and that is through payment in blood. That is why I can only pay in blood. This blood is nothing else than myself, not only my soul but also ‘legs and arms and body and bone’. At the same time I find that I’m a sinner and because I am a sinner I cannot pay with my own blood. I need somebody else to pay for me, somebody who takes my place and who is not a sinner. There is only one person who is not a sinner and whose sacrifice of his blood will be accepted by God, and that is the blood of Jesus Christ, He will pay with His blood instead of mine and that is why I say: ‘I pay in blood, but not my own’”.
This concept is called ‘substitution’ and there can hardly be any doubt that this is what Dylan has had in mind here.  It is all about redemption, whether we like it or not.
On the other hand, when we compare the core of this song with some of the songs of his so-called Christian trilogy – ‘’Slow Train coming”, “Saved” and “Shot of Love” – something important has changed. In songs like ‘I believe in you’ it is “them” – non believers, infidels - against Dylan and his newly found faith: they like to drive me from this town, they show me to the door and say don’t come back no more’ and also in one of the most controversial of all Dylan songs Dylan ever made ‘Property of Jesus’, it is again “them” against Dylan. ‘Resent him (Dylan) to the bone’ followed by the Dylan’s bitter retort: ‘You got something better; you’ve got a heart of stone’.
But in this song he confesses: ‘My head’s so hard, must be made of stone’. It is no longer only just “them” against me. He confesses that he has an equal part in the mess we all created. The point he wants to make is that no man or woman on this earth, whether he or she is a Christian or not, or no matter what other faith he or she practices, has the power within himself or herself to rise above the wicked condition of the human condition we are all in. Redemptive power has to come from elsewhere and can never be found in the human condition itself. Humanity makes matters only worse. It is exactly the reason why he says: ‘I pay in blood, but not my own’.
It is striking that the universal necessity to pay in somebody else’s blood is implicitly expressed in Dylan’s recent Rolling Stone interview with Mikal Gilmore. It is true, that here and there we have to take some of the statements in this interview with a pinch of salt and we have to take into account that Dylan likes to fool around and to play tricks with the press but let’s take it for what it is worth. In this interview Dylan complains about being called “Judas” for playing an electric guitar, and then says: “These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me. Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you’ve been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord and delivering him up to be crucified’. (By the way, you don’t refer to Jesus as “our Lord” and speak in such a manner about him unless you yourself believe in Jesus as “your” Lord, but that is not the point we intend to discuss in detail here – for more information on this issue, we refer to my article What does Bob Dylan really believe?. ).
What is notable, however, is that Dylan follows the RS interview up with a very nasty statement which may be called anything but Christian: “All those evil motherf**kers can rot in hell.”  At first glance such a nasty statement would fit in very well with lyrics of ‘Pay in Blood’ where passages like ‘I could stone you to death for the wrongs that you done’
‘I got something in my pocket make your eyeballs swim’, ‘I got dogs could tear you limb from limb
etc. seem equally denunciatory and equally full of revenge and spite. Whether the statement “All those evil motherf**kers can rot in hell” is on the same level as some of the violent passages in ‘Pay in Blood’- and in other songs on this album for that matter - remains to be seen. More light will be shed on this as when we will discuss the lyrics of ‘Pay in Blood’ in more detail in the upcoming articles on this song.
Finally, denunciations like “All those evil motherf**kers can rot in hell” are in sharp contrast with the teachings of Jesus. When our Lord Jesus was crucified he said: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus says in Matt. 7:1 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged’. No man has the right to wish other people in hell, no matter how justified Dylan’s remarks about the Judas accusations may be. At the end of times, on Judgment Day, the final judgment will be made but we have to bear in mind that this will be a divine privilege. This nasty remark proves the more so that Dylan is a sinner and needs cleansing through blood, in the same way as we are all sinners and need cleansing.  At the same time utterances like this stress the need for continuous payment in blood. There is a well spring of blood is available for everybody. The good news is that in the song ‘Pay in Blood’ the poet is amongst the ones who pay in blood, but fortunately it is not his own blood.
In our next article we are going to look at the lyrics in more detail and we’ll see if we can piece this all together. As always your comments on this article will be appreciated. Please press the button ‘’reacties’ below.

 

 

 Terug
Geplaatst: 20-09-2012 17:19:31

Reacties

And of course it's "blood of the land in my voice", not "blood of the Lamb". But that doesn't suit my theological agenda. So I say, in good British vulgar English, sod it! Why? Because what do I care? Why let the facts get in the way of my theology.

Events
transpire in all declensions at once; they are never conjugated. What is not
Gog is Magog––and at nine punkt
Gabriel always blows his horn. But is it
music? Who cares?



Gabriel doesn't blow any horns in the Bible. But when the last trumpet blows and the saints come marching in (or should that be out -- if it's the "rapture"?) as Jesus comes back to gather his jewels, who cares about the Jokerman's sister?

Or for that matter anything else?

paul kirkman24-09-2012 04:29

I didn't say the song was theologically confused (whatever that means). Or even that it wasn't. It wouldn't be high pedantry at your church.

When was the last time your church worship band or whatever played Coverdown Breakthrough? Huh? Very odd. We can't make out the words! Don't get it! He's got a funny voice hasn't he? Blah blah.

Would it be high pedantry to suggest that when Dylan wails "I believe in you even on the morning after" that's not exclusively about Jesus? Or that "even when white turn[s?] to blaaa ha!" could be about Mary Alice Artes in ADDITION to Jesus?

That's all. Not every Dylan lyric is an evangelical tract (that has, paradoxically, to be decoded so the gospel can be understood), but to say that doesn't mean theology -- or perish the thought, even an altar call -- isn't lurking in there somewhere in the murky shadows.

"I never could learn to drink that blood and call it wine". That's Dylan in his Hasidic phase renouncing Christ. And this from the same year proves it:

"What I learned in Bible school was just another side of an
extension of the same thing I believed in all along, but just couldn’t
verbalize or articulate. Whether you want to believe Jesus Christ is the
Messiah is irrelevant, but whether you’re aware of the messianic complex,
that’s all that’s important."

Yes, the devil can quote Scripture -- and Dylan -- and so can Christians/preachers/evangelists. Though in the case of Dylan few of them actually do. Christian Dylan fans are oddities -- to be loved the same as other weirdos, murderers, rapists, boring people or whatever. But let's face it, you've seen the faces of people at your church go blank when you drivelled on about a Dylan a second too long, haven't you? Which is why you resort to the Web as an outlet (which reduces the likelihood of them calling you a motherfucker in sheer exasperation). And what can be more soul destroying than mentioning Dylan to someone whose face goes blank or smirks?

As for all the evangelical patronizing that's going on about Dylan's line: it's NOT a theological pronouncement. It's fashionable American dismissive slang in the form of a throwaway comment, and has NOTHING to do with salvation -- be it other people missing it or people who say rude things about other people's mothers needing it.

For me the hilarious thing is that if Christians are told "I'm a compulsive serial adulterer" (or rapist, paedo or whatever [I better not say gay because that's fine -- even if it's violating others' rights; I know a gay who says it's OK to to be a paedo and assert one's will because society hasn't instituted gay marriage so gays have no choice]), they'll go all quiet and into "non-condemning" mode. Why? Because:Matthew 7:1-3 New International Version (NIV)
7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.(B) 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.(C) 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?-----------------------------But (had to put the line there in case I left myself open to the charge of devilishly adding to Scripture) if I call a Christian a motherfucker he'll tell me I've done something wrong and need Christ's blood! (Not that I do call people motherfuckers but I must confess it's starting to feel a bit catchy and all language is COPIED; mother tongue and all that...)Christians agonizing over Dylan saying motherfucker? Can you imagine what Dylan would say?Pussies and wussies!(and if I made a typo or left out a full stop etc. then that proves I'm a sinner and have nothing valid to say because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"; notice how in the last one I said "Sodom and Gomorrah" when the gospel passage in fact only mentions Sodom? Devilish!)

:-P

paul kirkman24-09-2012 03:24

Thank you, Kees, for this fascinating look at 'Pay In Blood'. as soon as I first heard it I knew Bob was referring to the redeeming blood of Christ, even if it is certainly theologically confused as has been pointed out above - is is Jesus who actually pays. However, that is piece of high pedantry - we know what Dylan is getting at - he's a sinner, we're all sinners and the only way into the Kingdom of Heaven is through Christ. The fact that much of the song os dripping with violent images and rage only confirms the fact of our universal fallen state and Bob referring to the 'motherf**ckers' who can 'rot in Hell' doesn't make him any less a Christian but merely places him, like all of us, in the need of the rescuing spirit of our Lord. No, he shouldn't have said it and maybe he regrets it but he's human, weak and prone to error - just like the rest of us. I look forward to the second part of your exposition.

Jerry23-09-2012 21:34

Further to the subject of cherry-picking, as an evangelist you will be familiar with the (true) canard that the devil likes to quote Scripture -- in the most selective of manners. And here I must own up to my own sinful condition: I distorted the context of Scripture by leaving out Sodom and Gomorrah from the immediately subsequent verse.

Matthew 11:22-24New International Version (NIV)
22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.(A) 23 And you, Capernaum,(B) will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.[a](C) For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”(D)-------------------------------------------------------
And so I confess to my own need for Christ's Blood to cleanse me from my perversion of the plain meaning of Scripture by deceitful exegesis/selective quotation: Jesus was telling them to sod off as it were -- call them MFs metaphorically speaking (crap as the metaphor is).

But then again, what do I care? (I'm sure Henry Miller wouldn't)

paul kirkman22-09-2012 21:43

[I'd wondered about that guy with the Dylan eyes too; felt kinda creepy then I forgot about it and since the itunes ran out I haven't bought album -- er, Jeff]

Hmm. I had been wondering how you were going to get round the problem of not being able to "substitute" Christ for the narrator: "I pay blood, [it's] not my own" -- from the croaky diction it's hard to tell when, if ever, "it's" is part of the phrase. But problem is: you're never going to get that as a theological formulation in any Christian church. I pay with Jesus' blood? Nope: Jesus pays for you with his (His?) blood. Simple Sunday school stuff. But then there is always the (increasing) danger of being too literal on the way to Sodom and Gomorrah with one's Bible while dancing to the political correctness tune (especially within the vicinity of Amsterdam), isn't there?

Darkling I
listen, for the scriptural rationale for the Jokerman's sister, for many a time  Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in
vain—          

    To thy high requiem become a sod.  

"poet who apparently has a hard believing whether he will
make it back home alive and"

Don't go home with your hard on. I never do, as my wife Thora would castrate me.

"Redemptive power has to come from elsewhere and can never be
found in the human condition itself. Humanity makes matters only worse. It is
exactly the reason why he says: ‘I pay in blood, but not
my own’.

"
Nice try. But Poe-faced Dylan academic Christopher Rollason has a better, narrower, way, one which is a coverdown breakthrough of sorts:


BOB DYLAN, “TEMPEST”:
INTERTEXTUALITY, SHAKESPEARE AND EDGAR ALLAN POE / INTERTEXTUALIDAD,
SHAKESPEARE Y EDGAR ALLAN POE

"Be the
tempest Shakespeare’s or Poe’s, storms from the past loom over Bob Dylan’s
newest work, released a full half-century after his debut album. The poet and
songwriter is still there, accompanied by shadows of the high and popular
culture of the past, to serve as our elusive and ironic guide, on this disturbing
but eminently listenable album, through a deceptive world where “if love is a
sin, then beauty is a crime”, a dark and shadowy universe perhaps only
redeemable by the constant, ironic alertness of the artist."Rollason has the blood of the lamb in Dylan's ironically alert croaky voice. (So much in common)Rollason went and lost his lovely academic head

For a drink of wine and a crust of bread

It's a long road, it's a long and narrow way

If Bob can't work down to him, Rollason 'll surely have to work up to him someday

"By the way, you don’t refer to Jesus as “our Lord” and speak
in such a manner about him unless you yourself believe in Jesus as “your” Lord"Thank you for clarifying that theological issue: in addition to the fact that 'Our Lord' is a predominantly Catholic formulation (and the medieval papacy was seen by Protestant reformers as Revelation's Whore of Babylon -- and still is so by SDAs), it's been a long long time since 1985's formulation, which no evangelical apologist for Dylan ever wants to mention even one time:

"What I learned in Bible school was just another side of an
extension of the same thing I believed in all along, but just couldn’t
verbalize or articulate. Whether you want to believe Jesus Christ is the
Messiah is irrelevant, but whether you’re aware of the messianic complex,
that’s all that’s important."(Dylan to Scott Cohen in 1985)But what does Our Manis care?

BELIEF IN MOSHIACH POSSIBILITY OR CERTAINTY c) 1992 Wellsprings, an interview with Rabbi Manis Friedman by Susan
Handelman:

FRIEDMAN:
If people can point a finger to someone and say, "This is Moshiach,"
that simply shows how alive and vibrant their faith in Moshiach is. Whether
this person is or is not Moshiach is irrelevant.

HANDELMAN:
Would you say that it is irrelevant even if, for example, we decide on the
wrong person? New religions have been formed as a result of the belief that
certain persons were the Moshiach, and Judaism suffered considerably when these
other religions persecuted the Jews for refusing to accept these
"Messiahs."



"What is notable, however, is that Dylan follows the RS
interview up with a very nasty statement which may be called anything but
Christian: . . . Matt. 7:1 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged’. No man has the right to wish other people in hell, no matter
how justified Dylan’s remarks about the Judas accusations may be. At the end of
times, on Judgment Day, the final judgment will be made but we have to bear in
mind that this will be a divine privilege. This nasty remark proves the more so
that Dylan is a sinner and needs cleansing through blood, in the same way as we
are all sinners and need cleansing.  At the same time utterances
like this stress the need for continuous payment in blood."A wearisome evangelical catch-phrase is "I don't want to judge [but]". But they've already done so -- at least by their own implied wish-washy definition. Furthermore, non-Christians often love to parry (Christ's teaching on) hell-fire with that "judge not" (King James) quote -- in the name of God's love. How do they know God is a God of Love? Er, the teaching of Jesus from which they're cherry-picking."Motherfucker" in the States is like "go to hell". If you're "jerking my chain" and I tell you to "go to hell", will Jesus send me there in punishment for being judgmental? In Dylanology there is literalism and then there is literalism. And so with Jokerman I say "Sod Abraham, you're being too literal geographically". Will I now go to hell? Perhaps you'd like me to.
Dylan's "nasty remark"? I couldn't possibly comment...The MF's who call Dylan a plagiarist, and then hypocritically hide (deep within) Warmuth's cyber-mansion (apron strings even)? I say woe to them -- and sod them -- until the Ship Comes in.Matthew 11:20-22New International Version (NIV)
Woe on Unrepentant Towns(A)20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!(B) For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon,(C) they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.(D) 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.(E)I say start naming and shaming these MFs (in Jesus' cool and forgiving name as we follow their casket)...
Feb 13, 2011:
Bob Dylan disguised as Henry Rollins
PaulMarch 15, 2011 11:59 AM
So
many sad, deluded fools who refuse to face up to Dylan's plagiarisms
when they're staring them square in the face. It's worse than pathetic.
How many dozens of lifted lines from a single source will it take before
you'll finally shut up about "wild coincidence" and "shaky evidence?" I
really would like to know the limits of your knee-jerk hero worship.

I'd be willing to bet a very large sum of money that most of you also believe in gods, magic and other such nonsense.Reply
















































 


 




paul kirkman21-09-2012 21:15

it seems rather obvious, that Pay in Blood is in parts directed at the guy (born around 1963; story has been reported) who claims that Dylan is his father

Erhard Grundl21-09-2012 17:52

Reactieformulier