Bob Dylan and catholicism

Its widely that Bob Dylan, who was born and bed Jewish, went through a Born-again Christian phase in the 1970s and early 1980s. Although Christainity is less evident in his later albums he never renounced it.
In fact his 1989 song Ring Them Bells, seems to me to very catholic in its imagary

Ring them bells, ye heathen
From the city that dreams,
Ring them bells from the sanctuaries
’Cross the valleys and streams,
For they’re deep and they’re wide
And the world’s on its side
And time is running backwards
And so is the bride.

Ring them bells St. Peter
Where the four winds blow,
Ring them bells with an iron hand
So the people will know.
Oh it’s rush hour now
On the wheel and the plow
And the sun is going down
Upon the sacred cow.

Ring them bells Sweet Martha,
For the poor man’s son,
Ring them bells so the world will know
That God is one.
Oh the shepherd is asleep
Where the willows weep
And the mountains are filled
With lost sheep.

Ring them bells for the blind and the deaf,
Ring them bells for all of us who are left,
Ring them bells for the chosen few
Who will judge the many when the game is through.
Ring them bells, for the time that flies,
For the child that cries
When innocence dies.

Ring them bells St. Catherine
From the top of the room,
Ring them from the fortress
For the lilies that bloom.
Oh the lines are long
And the fighting is strong
And they’re breaking down the distance
Between right and wrong.*

Copyright © 1989 by Special Rider Music

And then of course he sang for Pope John Paul II in 1997!

Now what I didnt know was the Catholic imagry from the great primeval folk-rock album Blonde-on-Blonde ( a frequent candidate for best album of all time).
I found this very interesting analysis of the album and its “apparent” catholic influence which should be a treat for all Dylan fans

This has always been one of my favorite Dylan songs. There’s a Dylan song for everyone, and in this case, it has always been thought provoking for me to see all the Catholic imagery in this song.

Dylan does not have a stitch of respect for Christian values or Christian living.

But he would co-opt both, so that he can sell more records. Its easy to be a ‘born-again’ Christian, just jump in the water, get out, babble something in ‘Tongues’, and you’re a freshly-minted Protestant.

The album title: “Blonde on Blonde”… I am told is an echo of the title of a play called “Brecht On Brecht” about Bertolt Brecht. Bob’s former girlfriend Suzie Rotolo who was a blonde had a part in that and that suposedly is the reason behind the double album title… thay say…

Go see:

My parents have two of the albums Dylan recorded in his “born again” period…their favorite quote from these is the refrain on the opening track to “Slow Train Comin’”

“But you gonna have to serve somebody,
Yes you gonna have to serve somebody,
Well it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord,
But you gonna have to serve somebody!”

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