Who knew? Dylan and Elvis…

First, we start off with this caper…

Bob Dylan & the Strange Journey of Warhol’s Silver Elvis

View at Medium.com

What a long, strange, journey for this painting…

One might guess that Elvis, the veritable King of rock and roll, was of some interest to Dylan.  In fact, Dylan said he had a profound response upon hearing Elvis for the first time — “It was like being let out of jail.”

They could not have been more different in appearance — tall, dark and traditionally handsome — to say the least– v. shorter, incredibly cute yet a tad geeky…And probably, Elvis, as the Star, would have had something of a reputation as befit his stature — though I have heard lots of stories of how humble and generous Elvis could be.  So, Dylan might have been tempted to…let me say…want to upset the apple cart?  A little bit of disrespect?  Certainly for this very statuesque painting, to say the least…

However, before too long, Elvis, who was not a songwriter, recorded a cover of Dylan’s “Tomorrow is a Long Time”.  Dylan was honored by this…

Revisiting Elvis Presley’s cover of Bob Dylan song ‘Tomorrow Is A Long Time’

But then Dylan wrote a song “I went to see the Gypsy”, that some have wondered might be about Elvis, the final line indicating sundown to the gypsy as the Minnesota sun (Dylan) rose…

Went to see the Gypsy: Bob Dylan meets Elvis

Then we have the 1970 hit song, “American Pie,” with its tantalizing lyrics about a ‘jester’ who steals the King’s thorny crown.  McLean also implies that it was this jester and the likes of the satanic Stones who took over US rock and roll the day the music died.  That’s pretty harsh…


Dylan himself uses the term ‘crown of thorns’ in the savagely ironic Shelter from the Storm, first recorded in 1974, released on BOOT:

Shelter from the Storm

It wasn’t until 2015, when Donnie McLean sold the original lyrics, that he came out and said he considered Dylan the ‘jester’ who stole the crown from the King.


Apparently, this didn’t sit well with Dylan, who, understandably, made some kind of negative comment…

However, back in 1977, at the time of Elvis’ death in Memphis, when Dylan happened to be at his farm in Minnesota, he was devastated, and said he didn’t talk to anyone for a week.  Later, when Dylan became seriously ill in New York City in 1997, he said “I thought I was going to see Elvis.”  So, obviously, Elvis had a deep and profound influence on him.

Now, in 2020, we have Murder Most Foul.  One of its lyrics says “I’ll go to Altamont, I’ll sit near the stage.”  Curiouser indeed, as the rest of the lyrics of American Pie describe the horrific murder of Meredith Hunter as he approached the stage at Altamont in what some have described as a ‘sacrificial killing’.  So is Dylan taking a poke at McLean in MMF?  Better yet, is MMF intended to, in effect, take over from American Pie the exalted status of our greatest song about the US and rock and roll?

And, last but not least, to poke a little fun, there is a spoof story about Dylan causing the death of Elvis (accidentally, of course) in a fight over who had the best hair…



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