023 – “Man Gave Names to All the Animals”

Episode 23. Man Gave Names to All the Animals.” Slow Train Coming. August 3, 2017. Smoky Fiery Hellscape” Bunker. National IPA Day Backwoods Brewing Company, from their Experimental Forest Series, the Scaler Single Hop… with passionfruit!

Context (3:20): Recorded in six takes at Muscle Shoals in Sheffield, Alabama on May 4, 1979. According to backup singer Regina Havis Brown, originally Dylan wasn’t sure if he wanted to include it on Slow Train Coming. But when Dylan heard Brown’s three-year-old son laughing at the identification of the animals, he said, I’m going to put that on the record.” (If only the kid was there to dig on “Blind Willie McTell,” amiright?) The song has a chorus, or to Kelly, Words I can hear, and remember, and sing back!”

America didn’t give a shit about this song or this record but it kinda lived on in France and Belgium that even in the late 1980s, the song was still charting. Somehow, it made it onto the Wiggles and was turned into a children’s book illustrated by Jim Arnosky.

In 2013, Rolling Stone did a readers poll of the worst Bob Dylan song and, unsurprisingly, this was on the list, at #4. (For the curious: #3, “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35,” #2 was “Gotta Serve Somebody,” and, forever and always, Bob’s worst, “Wiggle Wiggle.”)

Let’s get the quote from Genesis out of the way, 2:19-20, then move onto ANIMALS!

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. [20] And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

adam-animals-meteora.jpg

ANIMAL TIME (7:00): For a longer discussion, please listen. Below collect our tweets from August 10, 2017. You may know it for #AnimalsFactsDay.

So what about the song, the supposed reason we’re here? (32:00): Kelly and Daniel just didn’t hate it. It’s really about keeping two mind’s eye: one, it’s a religious song so deal with it (and try to deal with it in a calm nature, we can take these simple songs deep into the folds of outer space) and two, it’s a nursery rhyme, a children’s song. That second point is important because reactions mixed from “this is the worst shit I’ve ever heard” to explaining away the simple velocity of the track in favor of explanation as to why Dylan performed this song the way that he did (i.e. the final line not being sung is Dylan’s epiphany to God’s might, or the tiring repetition as tribute to our inflated egos, or… you get the point).

It’s a song. It’s filler for a troubled record that was going to be divisive. It’s a fun song for kids to sing that also contains that touch of darkness to keep adults engaged. It’s a song, like “Ring Them Bells”, where you can pin a lot of what hangs you up onto Dylan’s genius and call it a day (which Daniel tried when discussing dominion of the earth, giving and taking names away). Mostly, it’s a song that exists for a specific mood and moment, one that you probably aren’t going to be in often.

Recommendations (42:30): Kelly went for of Montreal’s 2006 classic Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? and International Waters, a podcast hosted by Dave Holmes!

Daniel spent his week with Arcade Fire (but suggested starting with Funeral and running through Everything Now), Free Throw’s Bear Your Mind (the animal pun not lost off-pod, but not mentioned on-pod, and is now in the show notes so…). He also suggested Billy Bragg’s interview on Fresh Air and Waxahatchee on The Watch.

Mixed Up Confusion!

Check out this week’s episodes of Mixed Up Confusion where they delve much deeper on our recommendations and talk about the week’s playlist. Also, if you’re in alternate timelines, listen to the crew dive deep on Game of Thrones, “The Spoils of War.”

Time to end this: We are down to 519 songs left. Home stretch! Kelly guessed #342. Daniel liked that timeline – Infidels. Instead, it was #267 – “Dear Landlord” from 1967’s John Wesley Harding.

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