“Senor” (1978)

 

Senor” is an exhausting song, or rather its about exhaustion.  Its universe is the long trail, the dusty unending road, where people on it just keep asking questions like, “Do you know where we’re headin’?” and “How long are we gonna be ridin’?”  It’s a song begging to use the word “still.”  And Dylan does use it all at once three times in the third verse:

There’s a wicked wind still blowin’ on that upper deck
There’s an iron cross still hangin’ down from around her neck
There’s a marchin’ band still playin’ in that vacant lot
Where she held me in her arms one time and said, “Forget me not”

And its use creates an internal rhyming with “blowin,’” “hangin,” and “playin.” Those words are gerunds, nouns formed from verbs, action transformed into inaction. Verb into noun.  Movement and stillness.  The forever blowing, hanging, and playing (still playing Bob?), create still pictures–like paintings or photographs do.  The wind still blowin on that upper deck frames the upper deck; as the cross still handing freeze-frames “her neck.” Likewise, the vacant lot is forever not emptied of any folk but forever populated by a marching band.
It works on so many poetic levels and so does his voice when he sings this verse.  Have a listen from this live performance:
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1 Comment

  1. Michael Rater

     /  March 30, 2019

    You have me thinking of Dylan weariness and exhausting journey songs like this and Brownsville girl or just walkin’ not talking song and how you could blend them together into kind of an Uber saga even tangled up in blew. Dylan has a whole western amd desert landscape of songs as well as northern winter songs, city and country songs and the weather and landscape allows for a variety of developments of the emotional space among the characters hazel the cold creates a frozen moment that allows for nostalgia and the feeling of joyful love even at the point of loss New York songs take on the crazy energy of a city the western songs are much more diffuse and sunbaked lots of langour and squinting at harsh realities death feels more present Nashville and rural songs are happy and more elegiac toward nature watching the river flow as opposed to dusty swap meets and broken down cars of the western songs

    Reply

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