Saturday, April 13, 2013

Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

Memories of English lefties adapting Maggie's Farm as a response to/indictment of Margaret Thatcher sent me down the Dylan rabbit hole once again. 

More on Baroness Thatcher later, but for now, shifting from one quicksilver song to another, I now pose the following query:

Was Dylan writing about someone in particular in the song Queen Jane Approximately?  I got pulled into the song (again) when listening to "Hwy 61 Revisited" the other day.  There's certainly no need to associate it with any particular person in the flesh & blood universe, but I wonder...

I've never held much truck with the notion that it was about Joan Baez.

The idea that it's about literal Queen Jane Seymour has struck me as even more farfetched, though there's something vaguely interesting about thinking that the "smell of roses" has something to do with the War of the Roses, and that he was being extra special clever referring to "all her children" starting to resent her (when she died of complications from the birth of her only child.)

Naaaaah, that's crazy talk.

I have thought that it might have more than a little to do with Edie Sedgwick.

But I am intrigued by the notion I came across while scouring the internets the other day that it might not be this Factory Girl, but actually the Boy who started the Factory, Andy Warhol himself, who's being addressed in the song.  I picked up the idea from one of the sites out there (cheese factories themselves, for the most part) devoted to picking apart song meanings, with a guy calling himself LuckyTown making the case.  Further steps down the rabbit hole led me to this interview Nora Ephron did with Dylan around the time the song came out - it is vintage Bob being random and chaotic and anything but serious or straightforward, but it does contain the quip "Queen Jane is a man."  And he offers this mini rant on art and accessibility:
Great paintings shouldn't be in museums. Have you ever been in a museum? Museums are cemetaries. Paintings should be on the walls of restaurants, in dime stores, in gas stations, in men's rooms. Great paintings should be where people hang out. The only thing where it's happening is on radio and records, that's where people hang out. You can't see great paintings. You pay half a million and hang one in your house and one guest sees it. That's not art. That's a shame, a crime. Music is the only thing that's in tune with what's happening. It's not in book form, it's not on the stage. All this art they've been talking about is nonexistent. It just remains on the shelf. It doesn't make anyone happier. Just think how many people would really feel great if they could see a Picasso in their daily diner. It's not the bomb that has to go, man, it's the museums.
SO - is it possible that this is an offer/invitation to the artist of plastic (inevitable) repetition who ran the Factory where his kinda sorta girlfriend spent a lot of her time?
When your mother sends back all your invitations
And your father to your sister he explains
That you're tired of yourself and all of your creations
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

Now when all of the flower ladies want back what they have lent you
And the smell of their roses does not remain
And all of your children start to resent you
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

Now when all the clowns that you have commissioned
Have died in battle or in vain
And you're sick of all this repetition
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

Oh when all of your advisers heave their plastic
At your feet to convince you of your pain
Trying to prove that your conclusions should be more drastic
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

Now when all of the bandits that you turn your other cheek to
All lay down their bandanas and complain
And you want somebody you don't have to speak to
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?
Ah, Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

Just askin'.

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