What does Visions Of Johanna mean?

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Bob Dylan: Visions Of Johanna Meaning


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Visions Of Johanna Lyrics

Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet ?
We sit here stranded, though we're all doin our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, tempting you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite...


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    Aug 13th, 2017 8:24am report

    I always thought that this was a song about bob being with a woman named louses and was remembering a beater lover named johanna.


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    Mar 17th, 2012 3:27pm report

    I always interpreted this more simply as someone who couldn't get to sleep, is realizing/admitting that his lover is only a substitute for the one he really loves, is feeling very alone, and realizing that we are all really alone in the world.

    1. Insomnia, and the thoughts it brings - "Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're trying to be so quiet."

    2. Aloneness - "We sit here stranded, though we're all doing our best to deny it."

    3. Substitute who is decent and fragile, but isn't the right one - "Louise she's all right she's just near, she's delicate and seems like veneer. She just makes it all too concise and too clear that Johanna's not here."

    4. I wonder if the narrator is feeling that he is just using Louise as a substitute, and feeling guilty about it - "Name me someone who's not a parasite and I'll go out and say a prayer for him."

    5. Maybe "Everything's been returned that was owed" is a reference to trying to atone.

    Just my two cents.


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    Sep 3rd, 2011 9:37am report

    just a stab at figuring out what is being said in
    "Visions of Johanna"

    And Madonna she still hasn't showed

    Jesus hasn't showed

    We see this empty cage now corrode

    the empty cage stands for a place where jesus is not yet but where he must eventually be.

    "cage now corrode" implies that he now occupies that place. I.E. he has returned

    which is exactly what the fiddler means
    when he writes.
    "everything's been returned which was owed"

    The fiddler in my view does not write this explicitly...rather he writes something which infers that jesus has has returned.

    (It turns out that the fiddler wrote various nicknames for Jesus on a door
    of a building where an auto shop was
    and a fish market later moved into
    in fairfield nj, circa 1994....showing that dylan
    describes actual events years before they occur....but I digress)


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    Aug 25th, 2011 8:34pm report

    like working a cross word puzzle
    I find it helps to interpret dylan when I start with something from the song that I'm
    confident about in terms of its meaning.....
    for that reason I'll start with...

    "The fiddler now steps to the road
    he writes 'everything's been returned which was owed' on the back of the fish truck that loads...."

    speaks of Jesus being returned!

    I'll submit more but here is the rock from which to build on so to speak.


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    Nov 20th, 2010 11:14pm report

    Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet?

    Pre-WWII. America is attempting neutrality. Hitler and the Japanese won't allow it. "Night" - this was a dark time in history.

    We sit here stranded, though we're all doin' our best to deny it

    The ordinary American citizen. Depression = stranded. The american attitude does just that - deny it.

    And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin' you to defy it

    Louise is the promise of escape from depression by means of war. She's tempting America to see what happens if she doesn't go to war. Isolationism is dangerous.

    Lights flicker from the opposite loft

    Lights like lightning flickering. The opposite loft from America would be Europe. The war is raging on in Europe.

    In this room the heat pipes just cough

    Again, America struggling to "stay warm". The imagery is important here. It screams of struggling America.

    The country music station plays soft
    But there's nothing, really nothing to turn off

    What else could "country music station" be related to than America. Are there any other countries that remind you of "country music station" more that America?

    Just Louise and her lover so entwined

    Her lover being all those that have fallen into her arms. Remember what Louise was?

    And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind

    These visions of Johanna - it's hard to say. It's a concept most of us find hard to grasp. A world we've never known. A kind of peace beyond imagination. There is no known time or place that has possessed "Johanna".

    In the empty lot where the ladies play blindman's bluff with the key chain

    The "empty lot" = Atlantic Ocean. "ladies" and their bickering. "Blindman's bluff" was what they called the Sub game in the atlantic. That with all of Hitler's U-boats and such. It is refered to as "Blind man's bluff". Look it up if you like.

    And the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the "D" train

    I'm going to leave this line for someone else to fill in. Come on, give a shot.

    We can hear the night watchman click his flashlight
    Ask himself if it's him or them that's really insane

    Who's insane. Me, the American, No. No the Nazi's. No. The English, french, .... Hell, I don't know.

    Louise, she's all right, she's just near

    Yea, war to save ourselves from Depression or recession. It's been done throughout history, why stop now?

    She's delicate and seems like the mirror

    Louise is delicate indeed. Tread lightly when playing with war.

    But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
    That Johanna's not here

    Of course she's not. We've yet to see Johanna.

    The ghost of 'lectricity howls in the bones of her face

    I can't stop thinking that this image was supposed to make me think of the dead. Ghost, bones, howls. It is the dead soilders after the war.

    Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place

    Has bob lost himself to the idealogical thoughts. Is he so entwined with Johanna now that it's all his life's about. I think this is the most personal line in the song.

    Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously

    The little boy is the new world after the war. Everythings different and America and Russia don't think it's a game. They're playing for all kinds of prizes. Europe mostly, we all know the ending.

    He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously

    Yes, Nuclear war is dangerous.

    And when bringing her name up
    He speaks of a farewell kiss to me

    Now the question is: Did the little boy kiss Johanna or Louise. Easy answer: He kissed Louise and by speaking of it he's stating how badly he wants it back and all the glory that comes with it. War at this point will be a way of life to continue the economic prosperity.

    He's sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all

    NO SHIT!

    Muttering small talk at the wall while I'm in the hall

    Yes Bob, there is little a man like yourself can do. Sing to the wall until you're blue in face but you know that you can't change the greed the world's been infected with at this point.

    How can I explain?
    Oh, it's so hard to get on
    And these visions of Johanna, they kept me up past the dawn

    Here we see that he's been thinking of lovely Johanna until the light begins to shine. What is this? Light shining on our world? How has this happened?

    (thanks luke the drifter...The journey of truth is first it is rejected then attacked with gusto before finally be accepted as something we always have known.)

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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