I’ve always maintained that Tangled Up in Blue or Brownsville Girl is Dylan’s greatest song. Well, I’ve been wrong, and I’ve known it all the time — I’ve just not been able to shake off the social pressure that his best song just had to be either something from Blood on the Tracks, wildly exploiting the Dylanesque shifts of perspective, storylines, and pronouns, or the greatest epic since Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.
But of course: it has to be a seemingly simple song, loaded with one-liners, a song which floats on a light, humorous mood all the way to the end, where everything is suddenly turned upside down — not in any way discarding what has been said before, on the contrary: confirming it and drawing the humour and lightness into the serious perspective where it (also!) belongs.
Talkin’ World War III Blues it is. “The boy’s obviously insane.” “Hey man, you crazy or sumpin’, You see what happened last time they started.” The hilarious “[all|some|half] the [people|time]” lines, credited to Abe Lincoln, Carl Sandburg, and, in England, T. S. Eliot.
And then, the best two lines in Dylan’s oeuve:
I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours.
I said that.
Cocky as only a 22-year-old can be. And, by the way, isn’t that just about all we all want?