Episode 44.
“License to Kill.”
Infidels. Real Live. Live on David Letterman.
Recorded January 25, 2018.


“License to Kill” was recorded on April 13, 1983 at Power Station Studios in New York City in 1 take. It’s been played 46 times (from May 28, 1984 to September 26, 1998).

Song Itself

A 1990 White House review concluded that “[i]n 1983, we may have inadvertently placed our relations with the Soviet Union on a hair trigger.” No word on if Infidels was an inciting incident. 

Daniel and Kelly take the song apart, verse by verse. The first features Bob’s critique of the moon landing.

What’s the purpose of going to the moon? To me, it doesn’t make any sense … Is that supposed to be something that a person is supposed to get excited about? Is that progress?

Dylan to Kurt Loder, March 1984

After the Challenger explosion, Dylan prefaced this song:

Here’s something I wrote a while back; it’s all about the space program. I suppose you heard about this [recent] tragedy, right? I don’t need to tell you it really was a tragedy … You see, these people had no business going up there. Like, there’s not enough problems on Earth to solve? So I wanna dedicate this song to all those poor people, who were fooled into going up there.

Bob Dylan (1986)

Kelly talks about implants and cybernetics followed by talk of propaganda. As Daniel notes, “It’s easy to just laugh (or cry) at the cynicism for something like Trump, but taken in a larger context, your brain has been mismanaged with great skill is an effective line — you are being misguided and lied to continually, you learn your lies in school, you live out those lies daily, and you’ll die believing you did all you could on this earth.” In the end, it’s that hubris that’ll be our downfall.

“Thucydides’ The Athenian General … was written four hundred years before Christ and it talks about how human nature is always the enemy of anything superior … Nothing has changed from his time to mine.”

Bob Dylan, Chronicles


Kelly listened to the Japandroids and watched Speechless. Daniel reflected on Nicanor Parra, poet/anti-poet, who died this week at age 103. (There is actually a connection to Dylan: Parra contended in 2000 that Dylan already deserved the Nobel in Literature for the chorus of “Tombstone Blues” – Mama’s in the factory, she ain’t got no shoes, Daddy’s in the alley, he’s lookin’ for food, I’m in the kitchen with the tombstone blues – for “his lack of artistic pretension, real realism, with the factory, the alley and the kitchen, where the child is alone with the tombstone blues.”)

As I was walking in
The park one day
I chanced to run into
An angelorium.

Good morning, he said
I answered back, good day.
He was speaking Spanish
But I used French.

Dites moi, Sir Angel
Comment va monsieur.

He stretched out his hand
I grabbed his foot,
You should get a good look
At a real live angel!

As silly as a swan
As cold as a crowbar
As fat as a duck
As ugly as you.

I got a little scared
But I stuck it out.

I tried to touch his feathers
His feathers felt as
Hard as the hard
Shell of a fish,

Just think if it was

I made him mad
He took a swipe at me
With his golden sword
But I was quick and ducked.

That’s the looniest angel
I ever hope to see.

I laughed myself to pieces
I said, goodbye, kind sir
Be on your way.
Have a nice day

Get run over by a car,
Get killed by a train.

So that’s the story of the angel.
The End.

“Lullabalo” in Poemas y Antipoemas


Kelly guessed #26. That’s “Meet Me in the Morning.” It’s actually #132. Our second in as weeks off Desire“Black Diamond Bay.”

Published by Daniel

Occasional writer, persistent nomad; restless, moving, changing. Currently in Portland, Oregon.

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