The last couple of days literary critics stoned him (again): In The New York times Anna North tries to explain "Why Bob Dylan Shouldn't Have Gotten a Nobel". Her argument in short: Dylan's gain, the literature's loss. I beg to differ. Dylan himself could answer by dedicating Rainy Day Women in his next show to Anna North. In this song he is joyfully playing with the double meaning of "stoned"; in linguistics & semiotics lingo "stoned" is a homonym and homograph, - one of the favourite toys of poets.
"Well, they’ll stone you when you walk all aloneThey’ll stone you when you are walking home
They’ll stone you and then say you are brave
They’ll stone you when you are set down in your grave
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned"
Bob Dylan, Rainy Day Women #12&35.
In the late 60ies kids listened to this song "stoned", of course, and chanted the refrain like a hymn: Everybody must get stoned! Now, the kids of the sixties are over sixty. If we listen to the song now, with the clash of cultures, the global news, the religious wars, it is more disturbing than ever.
Once again (like: "darkness at the break of noon", "postcards of the hanging") Dylan's lyrics are ageing frighteningly well. Every time I see the news on TV about people getting stoned to death for using drugs (getting stoned) or for religious or political reasons (! - of course reason is not the right word here), I think: what happened to "Everybody must get stoned?".