Bob Dylan And The Cards
by Walter Van der Paelt


Published in the spring of this year, 'Bob Dylan And The Cards' was the first in a ongoing series of booklets planned by 'Desolation Row Promotions'.

This 32 page A5 booklet printed on coloured art paper sets out to examine the use of both the Tarot and standard deck playing cards in Dylan's work. Dylan was almost certainly introduced to Tarot by then wife Sara and although he had made reference to fortune-telling earlier in his career - "the fortune-telling lady" features in his 1965 epic 'Desolation Row' - it is during the mid to late 1970s that Tarot imagery came to the fore.

There are a number of examples of fortune-telling and card imagery to be found on Dylan's 1975 album "Blood On The Tracks". Tarot cards were again in evidence a year later on both the inner and rear sleeves of Dylan's next release "Desire". The most explicit Tarot imagery however, is to be found on Dylan's next offering of new songs "Street Legal" (1978), where such works as 'Changing Of The Guards' and 'No Time To Think' are littered with examples.

It would seem that in his younger days Dylan found something rather romantic about cards and gambling. He mentions playing-cards and poker in a number of early songs, a prime example being 'Rambling, Gambling Willie' (1962). There are also numerous instances where Dylan invented romantic stories about taking his newly adopted stage name from an uncle named Dillion who was a professional card player.

An in depth study of Dylan's extensive use of Tarot imagery is long overdue.

'Bob Dylan And The Cards' is available from: Desolation Row Promotions Ltd, 57 Tempsford, Welwyn Garden City, Herts., AL7 2PA. Priced 4.50, plus 50p post & package UK (1.00 Europe). $10.00 cash inc. Postage for USA.

Also available from 'My Back Pages' see their ad in the back pages of this ISIS.


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