Song of the Day #4,280: ‘License to Kill’ – Bob Dylan

Infidels is probably my 16th or 17th favorite Bob Dylan album, but that’s enough to make it my 10th favorite album of 1983.

I didn’t discover this album until I did a Dylan deep-dive on the blog in 2010. As big a Dylan fan as I am, I had a blind spot for his work between 1976’s Desire and 1989’s Oh Mercy. Oh Mercy was the first Dylan album I bought upon its release, while I had gobbled up his pre-Desire albums (almost all classics) as a younger teen.

The work in between wasn’t the most critically-acclaimed, and it contained Dylan’s Christian phase, so I resisted it. It’s definitely the weakest patch of his career, but it turns out it contains some very worthy material.

Infidels is a great example. Produced by Mark Knopfler, it’s one of the best sounding albums in Dylan’s discography (especially if you’re a Dire Straits fan). The songwriting is strong, effectively blending the political and personal. And Dylan’s vocals were still strong enough to carry the material.

[Verse 1]
Man thinks because he rules the earth he can do with it as he please
And if things don’t change soon, he will
Oh, man has invented his doom
First step was touching the moon

[Refrain]
Now, there’s a woman on my block
She just sit there as the night grows still
She say who going to take away his license to kill?

[Verse 2]
Now, they take him and they teach him and they groom him for life
And they set him on a path where he’s bound to get ill
Then they bury him with stars
Sell his body like they do used cars

[Refrain]
Now, there’s a woman on my block
She just sits there facing the hill
She say who going to take away his license to kill?

[Verse 3]
Now, he’s hell-bent for destruction, he’s afraid and confused
And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill
All he believes are his eyes
And his eyes, they just tell him lies

[Refrain]
But there’s a woman on my block
Sitting there in a cold chill
She say who going to take away his license to kill?

[Verse 4]
You may be a noisemaker, spirit maker
Heartbreaker, backbreaker
Leave no stone unturned
May be an actor in a plot
That might be all that you got
Till your error you clearly learn

[Verse 5]
Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool
And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled
Oh, man is opposed to fair play
He wants it all and he wants it his way

[Refrain]
Now, there’s a woman on my block
She just sit there as the night grows still
She say who going to take away his license to kill

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,280: ‘License to Kill’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I had always heard that Infidels was one of Dylan’s worst albums, but I am intrigued by Mark Knopfler producing.

    • Clay says:

      Definitely not one of his worst. If you split his work into three tiers, I’d say this one is in the middle of the middle tier.

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