My Own Version of You

The protagonist of My Own Version of You wants to build a better version of himself, modeling this new edition on the image of Jesus Christ. He wants to be “born again.” The reference:

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God … Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” 

John 3:3-6

He wants to “balance the scales”.

Through his efforts to build himself in the image of Christ, he will be “saved” on Judgment Day.

Alongside all the seriousness is a comic thread that is reminiscent of the tall-tales of Dylan’s early work, such as Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream. The main conceit is the character’s attempt to build his own version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

In the last verse the mood changes back to the album’s great theme of mortality. He sees the spirit of immortality buried in his creation:

You got what they call the immortal spirit

Freud and Marx suffer some verbal abuse.

Mister Freud with his dreams and Mister Marx with his axe

See the raw hide lash rip the skin off their backs

The views of both Freud and Marx are seen as anti-Christian. Freud saw religion as some sort of exercise in wish fulfillment. And of course, Communism has long been anti-religion. As Marx famously stated, “religion is the opium of the people.”

Per usual, we have some references to old songs to keep us entertained. The Rolling Stone’s Moonlight Mile; Wee Small Hours, made famous by Frank Sinatra; Move It On Over by George Thorogood (and others); Dylan’s own Bringing It All Back Home.

Also another Shakespeare reference, “the winter of my discontent”


Lyrics

All through the summers and into January
I’ve been visiting morgues and monasteries
Looking for the necessary body parts
Limbs and livers and brains and hearts

I want to bring someone to life – is what I want to do
I want to create my own version of you

It must be the winter of my discontent
I wish you’d taken me with you wherever you went
They talk all night – they talk all day
Not for a second do I believe what they say

I want to bring someone to life – someone I’ve never seen
You know what I mean – you know exactly what I mean

I’ll take Scarface Pacino and the Godfather Brando
Mix ‘em up in a tank and get a robot commando
If I do it upright and put the head on straight
I’ll be saved by the creature that I create
I get blood from a cactus – make gunpowder from ice
I don’t gamble with cards and I don’t shoot no dice
Can you look in my face with your sightless eye
Can you cross your heart and hope to die

I’ll bring someone to life – someone for real
Someone who feels the way that I feel

I study Sanskrit and Arabic to improve my mind
I want to do things for the benefit of all mankind
I say to the willow tree – don’t weep for me
I’m saying the hell with all things that used to be
I get into trouble and I hit the wall
No place to turn – no place at all
I pick a number between one and two
And I ask myself what would Julius Caesar do

I’ll bring someone to life – in more ways than one
Don’t matter how long it takes – it’ll be done when it’s done

I’m gonna make you play the piano like Leon Russell
Like Liberace – like St. John the Apostle
Play every number that I can play
I’ll see you baby on Judgement Day
After midnight if you still want to meet
I’ll be at the Black Horse Tavern on Armageddon Street
Two doors down not that far to walk
I’ll hear your footsteps – you won’t have to knock

I’ll bring someone to life – balance the scales
I’m not gonna get involved in any insignificant details

You can bring it to St. Peter – you can bring it to Jerome
You can move it on over – bring it all the way home
Bring it to the corner where the children play
You can bring it to me on a silver tray

I’ll bring someone to life – spare no expense
Do it with decency and common sense

Can you tell me what it means to be or not to be
You won’t get away with fooling me
Can you help me walk that moonlight mile
Can you give me the blessings of your smile

I want to bring someone to life – use all my powers
Do it in the dark in the wee small hours

I can see the history of the whole human race
It’s all right there – its carved into your face
Should I break it all down – should I fall on my knees
Is there light at the end of the tunnel – can you tell me please
Stand over there by the Cypress tree
Where the Trojan women and children were sold into slavery
Long ago before the First Crusade
Way back before England or America were made
Step right into the burning hell
Where some of the best known enemies of mankind dwell
Mister Freud with his dreams and Mister Marx with his axe
See the raw hide lash rip the skin off their backs
You got the right spirit – you can feel it you can hear it
You got what they call the immortal spirit
You can feel it all night you can feel it in the morn
Creeps into your body the day you are born
One strike of lightning is all that I need
And a blast of ‘lectricity that runs at top speed
Show me your ribs – I’ll stick in the knife
I’m gonna jump start my creation to life

I want to bring someone to life – turn back the years
Do it with laughter – do it with tears

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