"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Sunday, June 26, 2011

You Gotta Serve Somebody or Serve Yourself

You Gotta Serve Somebody or Serve Yourself? Beatles or Dylan? Dylan or Beatles?

I'm a big Beatles fan. I love all their music and I even followed their solo careers (especially Lennon's). I admit, I'm not the sort of fan who can tell you which song is what track on which album but lemme say there were some memorable nights in college that had their very own Beatles soundtrack. Dylan was never a big favorite. I have to admit his voice grates on me. But, I've found one instance that Dylan truly outdoes Lennon. Heresy you say?!?! Hold on, I'll prove to you I'm not crazy.

Shortly after Dylan became a Christian...hold on, don't run away if you aren't Christian. I promise that's not where I'm going with this. Shortly after Dylan became a Christian in 1979, he wrote a Grammy winning song called You Gotta Serve Somebody. It has 7 verses followed by the chorus and the basic gist of it was...

You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Pssst...if you can't stand to listen to Dylan sing it, check out Judy Collin's cover of You Gotta Serve Somebody. I wish we could take her vocal track and back it with Dylan's music.

Lennon's rather dismissive response was to turn around and write the song Serve Yourself which went like this...
You say you found Jesus. Christ!
He's the only one
You say you've found Buddha
Sittin' in the sun
You say you found Mohammed
Facin' to the East
You say you found Krishna
Dancin' in the street

Well there's somethin' missing in this God Almighty stew
And it's your mother (your mother, don't forget your mother, la)
You got to serve yourself
nobody gonna do for you
You gotta serve yourself
nobody gonna do for you
Well you may believe in devils and you may believe in laws
But if you don't go out and serve yourself, la, ain't no room service here

Now, I'll admit that Dylan's lyrics were a lot more simplistic than Lennon's lyric. I'll also admit that I prefer Lennon's voice over Dylan's. But, I have a serious problem with the sentiment behind Lennon's song, Serve Yourself. And, honestly, it's not that he seems to dismiss the importance of belief in a higher power. Everyone is entitled to believe what they want. What bother's me is the lyrics of Serve Yourself seem to say put yourself before all others. This world is hard enough to live in without supporting each other and being there for each other. By serving others, by taking care of others, we take care of ourselves. So, in this case, while I'll listen to Lennon, I live by Dylan's words.

Tell me about a song that speaks to you...whether it's through lyrics or music.


Kakunaa said...

I love Dylan - his lyrics anyway. Some of my favorite songs are Dylan covers (most by the Indigo Girls). I also happen to adore Beatles covers...I am always torn, LOL.

However, I think taking care of others is key. Having said that, right now I am feeling the burn of that and am embarking on a "take care of us" campaign for a while. But normally, allll over that!

Casey said...

This is a really interesting post. Never realised the parallel between the two songs (but that's probably because I'd never heard the Lennon track) Thanks for the introduction to it, and thanks for the comment on my blog. Hope to read more soon.

Best wishes,


empty whole said...

ooh, I like both songs as I like both artists (and seriously, are there people who don't like the Beetles?)