Music Challenges — The Mighty Quinn — Bob Dylan — analysis


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Jim Adams is the dedicated and energetic new host of Mindlovemisery Menagerie’s Music Challenge. Jim says:
The challenge today is to focus on [Bob Dylan’s song, “Quinn the Eskimo”] and use it for inspiration in any form of creative expression (including but not limited to short stories, poems, lyrics, artwork, photography, (etc.). 

OK, I took the chorus out of it and will focus my analysis on the three stanzas/verses.

Everybody’s building ships and boats
Some are building monuments, others are jotting down notes
Everybody’s in despair, every girl and boy
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everybody’s gonna jump for joy

I like to go just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet
But jumping queues and makin’ haste, just ain’t my cup of meat
Everyone’s beneath the trees, feedin’ pigeons on a limb
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, all the pigeons gonna run to him

Let me do what I wanna do, I can’t decide ‘em all
Just tell me where to put ‘em and I’ll tell you who to call
Nobody can get no sleep, there’s someone on everyone’s toes
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everybody’s gonna wanna doze

I see Quinn the Eskimo as probably being one of those Bob Dylan nonsense songs where the words rhyme and it almost makes sense and so stirs up controversy and speculation. I could be wrong.

Looking over the stanzas, the first one is about the movers and the shakers, the ones who like to be in the planning and development of ideas. The ones who like to kowtow to the ones with the real power. They are the agents behind the scenes.

The second one is about the ones who want to run with the popular crowd. The followers of fashionistas, the ones who want to have their pictures taken with famous people. Also in this scene are the wannabes, the ones standing in the shadows, ready to exploit if an opportunity arises.

The third one is a person who doesn’t buy into either of those arenas of living, but could be at the top of the food chain in either one. He’s a person who thinks for himself, but no person is an island. He has to dabble with these groups but keeps it to a minimum.

Which one is Quinn?   Quinn is the catalyzing agent of change in all three scenarios.

In the first one, Quinn is the one who holds the real power. He hasn’t gotten to his position by being a nice guy. He’s like a CEO and/or mob boss or of that ilk. When he shows up, he makes the big decisions that everyone is waiting for.

In the second one, Quinn is the cult of personality. He’s the trendsetter. He’s the Andy Warhol.  When Quinn shows up, the party gets started.  He’s the sun upon which the satellites revolve.

In the third one, Quinn shows up to where he doesn’t impress anyone. He is welcome to the party, but when he tries to peddle his magic (i.e. bs), nobody is buying it.

That’s my take on it. Add it to the list of theories, which is what it will remain unless Bob tells us differently.

Thank you, Jim, for the intriguing prompt song today!


7 Comments Add yours

  1. I loved your verse by verse analysis, great writing job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Jim. Dylan and his lyrics are always worth trying to figure out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So true, as you never know where they will lead you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really interesting ideas about the song. Of course, as a lifelong ’60’s obsesso , I know that it’s so easy to take songs from those days into different directions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Wouldn’t you just love to sit down with some of the greats and ask them and hear from their own mouths? What is maddening is when they tell one interviewer one thing and another another. Not sure if they just forgot or don’t want the truth known.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. After all that time it could even be a combination of both

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          Very true. Our memories are patchy at best, and imagine being a star that is traveling from town to town seeing innumerable people and experiencing innumerable things. It probably all mashes together at some point.

          Liked by 1 person

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