Man Gave Names to All the Animals

According to some people – i.e. one of Rolling Stone’s sophomoric readers’ polls – this may just be the worst Bob Dylan song ever. I disagree. I think this song is wonderful, though deeply absurd. The very idea of a born-again Bob Dylan was absurd.  No doubt Dylan’s sojourn into Christianity was heartfelt and necessary at the time, but it struck fans as bizarre, to say the least. Not surprisingly, he outgrew his evangelical phase soon enough. The trio of Christian-themed album he recorded between 1979 and ’81 were not well received, even though Slow Train Coming was probably his most interesting record in years. Gotta Serve Somebody is one of the best explanations for the persistence of religious faith ever written. This interpretation of the Book of Genesis is considerably less profound, with lyrics befitting a nursery rhyme. In fact, Dylan meant the song as a throwaway and only included it on the album after he noticed how much his friends’ children were enjoying it. So maybe he wasn’t at his highest poetic capacity rhyming ‘pig’ with ‘big’, but I think it’s actually a pretty clever song.


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