Coverdown: Freewheelin 232 / Freewheelin-on-line take 34

freewheelin-on-line take 34 cover


For anyone who might have struggled through my epic saga on ‘Visions of Johanna’, you may recall that I often endeavoured to interpret the song as a painting with many forms and features making up the canvass. A little preposterous you may have thought but Dylan does a similar thing in Chronicles Volume 1 where he writes about ‘A Ship the Black Freighter’, a song that he heard in 1962 when he visited his then girlfriend Suze Rotolo whilst she was working on a musical production at a theatre in Christopher Street, New York. Dylan absolutely raves about this song and, in part of that rave, he says the following ‘It was like the Picasso painting Guernica.’ 

What made Dylan think of ‘A Ship the Black Freighter’ in conjunction with Picasso’s Guernica was probably the immensity, in Dylan’s eyes, of the song… ‘you couldn’t see what the sum total of all the parts were, not unless you stood way back and waited ‘till the end.’ he writes. 

Picasso’s Guernica, part of which is reproduced on this months cover, is indeed an immense painting for it measures 12 feet deep and 26 feet wide! It was painted in 1937 as an immediate reaction to Germany’s devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War and the work displays horrifying images of mutilation, death and destruction. It was of course a short time after he first heard the song that was like Picasso's war painting that Dylan wrote his own songs that included lines representing the horrifying images of death and destruction, in particular ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’. 

My section of Guernica is here as a backdrop to bring the two artists together. The lines on Picasso's Breton T-shirt form arrows heading towards Dylan and Picasso stares intently at him. Dylan, a little older and wiser, gazes off into the distance, wondering what all the fuss is about, feeling like an imposter and knowing that he is not the person who people think he is. It must be painful for him but maybe someday he can reconcile himself with his art so that the war between Dylan and his enemy within will be over! Oh happy day!


Theo Casamegas