Angelina

Album: The Bootleg Series, Volume 3: Rare and Unreleased (1991)
  • In this song, Angelina can be a women, country, or planet. Dylan croons about one of the three with the passion and mystique of "Visions Of Johanna," even though this was created in the Shot of Love period. In a nutshell, Dylan is asking Angelina to forgive him and come with him. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Henry - Baltimore, MD
  • In 1965, Bob Dylan wrote "Farewell, Angelina," which was released by Joan Baez that year. Sixteen years later, Dylan wrote "Angelina" for his 1981 album Shot of Love. The song didn't make the track list, and like Dylan's version of "Farwell, Angelina," appeared in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1—3: Rare & Unreleased.

    Both songs use surrealistic imagery, and it's not clear who Angelina is in either one. Each song also suggests impending doom.

    The doom is more pronounced in "Farewell, Angelina," but also unmistakably there in this song. Many lines suggest despair and destruction, but the most definitive is, "I can see the unknown rider, I can see the pale white horse." This is a reference to Revelation 6:8 in the Bible, which reads:

    I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
  • Pass the tree of smoke pass the angel with four faces

    This line refers to a description of the cherubs in the Bible's Ezekiel 1:5-6:

    And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, six but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings.

    The cherubs exist in different parts of the hierarchy of angels, depending on if you look at Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. Dylan is likely referring to the Old Testament tradition, in which the cherubs are very important - their name appears 91 times in the Hebrew Bible. One of their tasks is protecting the Garden of Eden, which may identify the "tree of smoke" in the lyrics as the Tree of Life or the Tree of Knowledge. If this is indeed a reference to either or both of those concepts, then the fact that it's made of smoke indicates that creation, morality, or both, are lost.
  • Dylan produced the song with Jimmy Iovine; Toby Scott acted as sound engineer. It's not clear why the song wasn't included on Shot of Love, as many listeners feel it's better than many of the tracks that did make it onto the album.
  • "Blood dryin' in my yellow hair as I go from shore to shore" indicates that whoever Dylan is speaking through isn't meant to be himself, because he has brown hair.
  • The song includes one of Dylan's most haunting images: pieces of men marching, "trying to take heaven by force."
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Comments: 4

  • Meridianman from Casper, Wy, WyAllow me to finish my statement (I'm new at this and ran out of room). As I was saying, I'm trying to point out that Bob turned inward, looking as deep as he could into his own soul and into the soul of man, very early in his career. The protest songs, directed outward toward the social world, grew stale and limiting almost before he put them on records. Bob Dylan is a timeless figure, not time-bound.
  • Meridianman from Casper, Wy, Wy"Farewell Angelina" is remarkable, perhaps even unique, as the earliest example of the metaphysical or surreal turn that Bob Dylan was making as a lyricist. Bob is really testing the limits of language (for better or worse, depending on one's taste) and bending the mind with otherworldly images. He's trying, I think, to express the inexpressible, or ineffable -- as much a yearning of youth as it is a hint of the transcendent. Since the song originates in 1965, it is not from the Shot of Love period, as Henry from Baltimore asserts. I'm not nitpicking, Henry: I'm just trying to point out how early in Bob's career he w
  • Fred from Laurel, MdAha! I see my comment of yesterday (June 4th -- actually, the wee hours of the 5th) has been heeded and the video on this page is now the right one. With thousands of songs on this site, this was corrected in mere hours. I'm amazed! I'd like to see Farewell Angelina on this site, too, so maybe I'll try putting it up here. 2009 Jun 05.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdI've never heard this song, but reading the lyrics, and from the title, it echoes eerily his early song, "Farewell Angelina" (recorded by Joan Baez). Holy cow! That's what's on the YouTube link on this page! (It cuts off early in verse 5, though. There are 6 verses total in the song.)
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