Kelly Carver March 21, 2010 Essay #4 Visions of Johanna “Visions of Joanna” from Dylan’s 1966 Blonde on Blonde album was recorded between October 5, 1965 to March 10, 1966 at the CBS studios in Nashville, Tennessee. This was Dylan’s seventh album, which included a lot more folk rock, blues- rock, and rock. The songs “Visions of Johanna was considered one of Dylan’s best works as an artist and his personal favorite song on the album. He said, “It captured the wild, thin, mercury sound. ” “Visions of Johanna”, presented Dylan’s drug use and reference in many of the songs on the album and how it affected his life in such a profound way.
At this point in Dylan’s career Blonde on Blonde was his third album since switching to electric; he was living in Woodstock, New York at this point he was into hard drugs and in reflected in many of his songs on this album. His drug use which was very evident in many of his songs, during this time in his life he became overwhelmed with the usage of pot, and other hard drugs. However, this album was also released months before his motorcycle accident on July 29, 1966 where after that due to the accident took eight years off after to just be a husband and a father to his kids. Visions of Joanna” has a lot of possible individuals that the song may have been written about. One of the individuals is suggested to be Van Gogh’s sister in law Johanna Gezina Van Gogh. The story of Johanna moved Dylan Greatly by her transformation from a possible suicide victim to a successful artist. Another possibility of whom the song was about is Sara, Dylan’s first wife and Joan Baez love triangle and the difficulty he had choosing between the Baez whom he was with at the time and Sara Dylan’s first wife that he was falling in love with at the time that the song was written.
Experts believe that the song “Visions of Johanna” had a lot of referencing to drugs. I feel that throughout the entire song is in a context that he is describing Johanna as maybe a drug and everything in his life as gone to hell. It seems as if he was trying to be quite but everything he did was loud and that there was nothing he could do about it, and he is stranded with two lovers but all he can think about it Johanna, “But there’s nothing to turn off/ just Louise and her lover so entwined. ” However part way through the song he describes a boy, who seems to talk himself up, and explains how he does not feel lost and is on his own. Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously/ He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously. ” The line of the song that proves my point to referencing drugs that seems like a hallucination “But Mona Lisa had the highway blues/you can tell by the way she smiles/ see the primitive wallflower freeze/ when jelly- faced woman all sneeze/ Hear the one with the mustache say, “ jeeze I can’t find my knees” I think throughout the song that Johanna was in reference to whatever drug he was on at the time and withdrawing from it and all he can think about is how badly he needs Johanna and how it will make everything better.
I feel that he this leads me to believe that this was Dylan hallucinating, seeing a woman that looked like a mule with a mustache saying that they can’t find their knees. ” In the end of the song was when his whole life hits rock bottom and all he has left is the visions of his drug “Johanna. ”The end of the song was when all he had in life after his life came crashing around him and all he had was himself alone with the visions of Johanna.
However, Viewing the other songs on the album there are a lot of reference to drug use such for example : Rainy Day Woman #12 ;amp; 35 is an entire song about being stoned and how it made him act and feel, “They’ll stone you when you that it’s the end/ Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again. ” Much of the songs on the Blonde on Blonde album did reference drugs in many ways, either written about drugs or his listeners could tell that he was hallucinating. While listening to and analyzing, “Visions of Johanna” I found that the song seemed very dark, lonely, and depressing it was a slower song.
It was more of upfront kind of song. Instead of taking it so literally maybe much of it was metaphorical and explaining objects in ways that would be up to the listener to distinguish between. I really enjoyed the song “Visions of Johanna” it was more of a mysterious song. I liked how many of the songs are very out there and strange which gives listeners the thought that what if he was on drugs and hallucinating. I find that from what I heard from Dylan in the 60’s was some of Dylan’s best work, it was all confusing but also obvious in ways that was unexplainable.