Chap. 13: Edie Sedgwick, Maid Of Constant Sorrow

April 17, 2011

Edie Sedgwick

Maid Of Constant Sorrow

by

R.E. Prindle

https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/exhuming-bob-xxviii-visions-of-johanna-decoded/

https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/exhuming-bob-xxvi-bob-and-edie-sooner-or-later-everyone-must-know/

Chapter 13

Blonde On Blonde

Her Fogs, Her Amphetamines And Her Pearls

     One can only guess at Edie’s feelings when Dylan dismissed her so brutally  from the lines of One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later).  She must have intuited if not known that her short and glorious career as the toast of New York was going nowhere.  She came to New York with a handsome inheritance that she squandered in a trice, her parents disapproved of her conduct to the the point that they cut her off from support leaving her as Dylan had sneered in Like A Rolling Stone, a poor little rich girl ‘who had never lived out on the streets but now she was going to have to get used to it.’  Screamingly in pain from amphetamines one can only imagine her bewilderment with no way to rectify the situation.  Whatever golden opportunities she may have had were now gone forever.  Frome here to her death in 1971 would be one long wailing ‘horrorous’ nosedive that is terrifying to relive as a writer even.  My stomach quakes as I try to organize the course of events.

     Chuck Wein, one of the Harvard homosexuals she had associated with and who had come to New York with her was her evil genius, some say Svengali, who had guided her to Warhol and the

The Poet

Factory and then presided over her self-destruction.    Then for that brief glorious summer of ’65 she had set New York on its ear as a companion to Andy Warhol.  Made her feel giddy and indestructible.  Andy was apparently in love with her but as a self-centered homosexual was too flaky to work out a relationship that would give her dignity while he was unable to support her more than extravagant tastes.

     Behind Warhol was Dylan competing for Edie’s favors which he won in December of ’65 and then discarded her like an old shoe.  He recorded the course of his relationship with Edie in various songs from mid-1965 to the completion of Blonde On Blonde in the Spring of ’66.  His own career course was changed dramatically in July of ’66 when he had his motorcycle accident.

     It might be well to review the songs that comprise Blonde On Blonde now.  The song list of Blonde On Blonde is as follows:

1.  Rainy Day Women #12 And 35

2.  Pledging My Time

3.  Visions Of Johanna

4.    One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)

5.  I Want You

6.  Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again

7.  Leopard Sking Pillbox Hat

8.  Just Like A Woman

9.  Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine

10.  Temporary Like Achilles

11. Absolutely Sweet Marie

12.  Fourth Time Around

13.  Obviously Five Believers

14.  Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands

     With a knowledge of the lyrics the titles themselves read consecutively tell story while the lyrics confirm the tale.  The story hinges on who the two women are.  One is Dylan’s mother who blasted herson’s psyche when at about the age of twelve she told him in so many words that he had ruined her life by being born.  Apparently it was more than Dylan could handle because it was then that his lifelong misogyny began.  It is forbidden for a son to revenge himself on his mother so his only recourse was to take it out on another woman or women.  Dylan has been a serial misogynist.

     One of the women he chose to vent his spleen on was Edie Sedgwick.  Thus the two rainy day women most likely are his mother and Edie.  All the time Dylan was bedeviling Edie he was courting Sara Lowndes who he eventually married in November of ’65.  It was a quiet wedding that didn’t became known for several months and not widely known until later than that.  He married just before he succeeded in abstracting Edie from Andy’s entourage so there is no doubt that he was only toying with Edie as a surrogate for his mother.

     He may actually have cherished her vulnerability from drugs, inexperience in the world and low self-esteem.  She would have been as helpless as a baby, almost like shot gunning fish in a barrel.  Sara was his Madonna, Edie his whore.  He waits to the very end of Blonde On Blonde to mention Sara and then he wrote Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands for her.  Of course, this was all very mysterious  for us back in ’66 because we knew nothing of what was happening in New York.  None of us had even heard of Sara Lowndes until she showed up as Dylan’s wife

     As blogger Jim De Rogatis says, when he sat down to listen to Blonde:  What I discovered was an artist who sneered and snarled with more venom and conviction than Johnny Rotten, and

The Artist

finally it dawned on me:  Dylan was a punk…

     Jim wasn’t there at the creation as I was, he is a younger man.  I guess my soul was so canchred at the time that I welcomed the sneering and snarling as an expression of my own trauma while today I find the venom is so grating that I can no longer listen to Dylan’s records.  Besides he borrows nearly everything.

     The album opens on a note of forced sardonic merriment as though in a house of ill fame and ends with the dirge dedicated to his wife, Sara.  I leave the interpretation of that up to you.  I can’t pretend at this date to understand the lyrics to Sad Eyed Lady.  One would have to know more of her and Dylan’s courtship.  Dylan thought she was supposed to be impressed that he wrote a song for her with a title that sounds like another of his caustic insults.

     To take the songs in order:  Rainy Day Women is a raucous, very noisy mocking song along the lines of Like A Rolling Stone with its refrain of ‘How does it feel?’  On release the song was so noisy it was nearly unlistenable, certainly objectionable and barely music.  Time has conditioned our ears.  The refrain here:  Everyboyd must get stoned, has layers of possible meaning.  While the allegory of stoned meaning pelted with rocks is present, stoned can also have a secondary meaning of smoking marijuana.  I don’t think the meaning has anything to do with getting ‘stoned’ from dope.  I think it’s a combination of the first meaning and what was perceived by Dylan as a devastating insult from his mother.

     The refrain must refer on one hand to his mothers perceived ‘stoning’ of Dylan by her announcement to him that he had been basically unwanted.  That stoning is turned around to apply to his ‘stoning’ of Edie in vengeance.  He then gleefully taunts and mocks her with the refrain:  Do not feel so all alone, everybody must get stoned (How does it feel?) which refers back to his earlier song about Edie, Like A Rolling Stone.

     In order to make ‘poetry’ of his taunt, our incipient ‘Shakespeare’ gives several poetic references that have nothing to do with rocks or joints.  For instance the line ‘They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car’ must refer to radio DJs pitching products.  Thus stoning is meant as a verbal assault.  One can compare that line with the Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger’s lyrics to his song Satisfaction:

When I’m drivin’ in my car

And that man comes on the radio

The Singer

He’s tellin’ me more and more

About some useless information

Supposed to fire my imagination

I can’t get no, Oh, no, no, no

Hey, hey, hey, that’ what I say

I can’t get no

Satisfaction

     So Dylan’s use of ‘stoning’ is giving or getting unpleasant information.

     Song #2, Pledging My Time merely means he is obsessed with  his mother’s ‘information’ that he was unwanted which is reflected in song #3, Visions Of Johanna when he sings:  These visions of Johanna have conquered my mind.  Johanna being his mother.  Then there is discussion about Andy and Edie.  (see my essay at     https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/exhuming-bob-xxviii-visions-of-johanna-decoded/    for a full discussion.)

     Song#4 Sooner Or Later mocks Edie who he ‘really did try to get close to’ as he dismisses here as he would have like to have dismissed his mother.   Song #5 is self-explanatory.

https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/exhuming-bob-xxvi-bob-and-edie-sooner-or-later-everyone-must-know/

     Song #6, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again awhile the lyrics are unclear must refer back to I Want You on one hand and forward to Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and Just Like A Woman on the other.  He’s stuck inside of Mobile, i.e. he wants his mother with the Memphis Blues, i.e. he want his vengeance on Edie is a possible interpretation.  At any rate it is placed between I Want You and the two Edie songs so it must be related to all three.

     Then come two really unnecessarily vicious songs that everyone agrees are about Edie- Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and Just Like A Woman.  There are no obvious reasons for Dylan to express such vehement, disfiguring hatred of the poor girl unless he’s visiting his repressed hatred of his mother on her.

     Song #10 Temporary Like Achilles involves Edie and Andy and himself.  I doubt if Dylan had any understanding of the Iliad, if he had even read it, so apart from Achilles short life and the seven month interruption of his relationship with Edie by Warhol an interpretation is somewhat of a hazard.

     Songs 11, 12, 13, Absolutely Sweet Marie, Fourth Time Around, and Obviously 5 Believers seem to wander off topic.  I have read one interpretation in which the blogger thought Obviously 5 Believers was a response to the Beatles Norwegian Wood.  Or possibly they lead into song #14 Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands that Dylan says he wrote about Sara Loundes.  The lyrics of this ‘poem’ are incomprehensible but if I had been Sara I wouldn’t have taken the title as a compliment, especially not after being locked out of a discussion about Dylan, Edie and his mother.  After all, this is a married man lashing out at Edie.

     After completing the LP Dylan left for his 1966 tour of England in which there was such a violent reaction to his electric backup band.  I don’t remember their being a violent reaction made on the West Coast.  For myself I welcome it.  I never did like that faux folk crap he did anyway.  Apparently Dylan didn’t either.  A new expanded edition, lots of new material. of Robert Shelton’s biography, No Direction Home, just released by Omnibus Press is available, speaking in 1965 Shelton quotes Dylan thusly:  ‘There never was any change.  No instrument will ever change love, death in any soul.  My music is my music.  Folk music was such a shuck.  I never recorded a folk song.’  He did however call himself a folk singer.

     So, whoever shouted Judas at the Manchester concert knew what he was talking about.  I never listened to those nauseous early Dylan records anyway.  Blonde On Blonde was released in June of 1966 while Dylan was thrown by his ‘chrome horse’ on 7/29/66 thus putting an end to the first phase of his career.

     I don’t know what Edie thought wen she heard the record that summer but one supposes she would have recognized herself as the topic of the conversation.  Warhol certainly did and he was not amused.  Knew something about motorcycles too.

     Both Edie and Dylan were so heavily into amphetamines that they probably were not responsible for their actions.  Drugs tend to put one into an internal state in which the outside world assumes a subordinate position, almost irrelevant, to one’s interior reality.  A person functions in his own mind as a sort of magician who can comman the world to his own world.  A certain type of insanity I suppose.  Right and wrong are merely expressions of one’s own subconscious will.  As Dylan confused Edie with his mother who he subconsciously wished to punish he transferred those feelings, that resentment, that hatret onto Edie as his surrogate mother thus gaining his revenge.  How much satisfaction he got isn’t known and he’s not telling.

     Edie herself was so far gone into amphetamines as to be oblivious to what was happening in her life.  As far as she could dissociate her life from reality she could obviously make black white and vice versa.

   Having dealt with Dylan’s relationship with Edie, let us return to January of ’66 to take up again the story from there.

Chap. 14 has been posted as of 6/23/11

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