Bob Dylan On Tears

whaleSome old ideas can readily be replaced with new ones.  For example, when I was young I thought that a whale was a huge fish. One day, my teacher explained that actually a whale is a mammal and then she explained why it helps scientists to make this type of distinction.  After that single lesson, I had no problem whatsoever remembering the major points that she made.

Some ideas, however, are not as easily replaced with new ones. A single five minute lesson might make sense, but we find that the old habitual ways of thinking begin to return, and the five minute lesson has no lasting impact. However, if we are exposed to the new idea several times in several different ways over a period of perhaps several months, or even several years, newer powerful ideas may take root, and the actions that flow from them may begin to feel natural and right.

Boy cryingWhen I was a young child, if someone criticized me, I began to cry.  At one point, when I began to cry after my grandfather criticized me, he explained to me that real men don’t cry.  Meanwhile, my sister was yelling, “Jeff is a cry baby, Jeff is a cry baby.”  Well, I set myself on not crying anymore, but, soon afterwards, I started to cry because of some new criticism that I received.

When I was chastised about this again, I recalled how some grown-up male actor in a movie had cried for some reason or other, and I used that to angrily defend myself.  In time, I learned that there were some types of situations in which a man could cry without people losing respect from others, but other situations in which some people did lose respect for a man if he was to break out in tears in front of them.  There were other subtle lessons about crying that I learned as I matured.  It took more than a single five minute experience to figure all of this out, but now I feel I have these ideas pretty much under control.

practiceLike my own crying experience, many of the skills that I regularly discuss on this blog can’t be adequately learned by reading a single five minute blog post. Replacing old habits that have been practiced since early childhood with more powerful ideas requires thoughtful presentations over an extended period of time.  As an entertaining way to enrich a topic by bringing it up again and again after I initially present them, I  sometimes use humorous comic strips, a serious news item hot off the press, a parable, or a story from one of my novels. And sometimes I discuss one of Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour shows.

I have discussed the topic of crying and how it relates to how much respect a person might have for the crier in several earlier posts (see here and here). In today’s post I’ll try to enrich some of these earlier ideas by discussing Bob Dylan’s show on tears.

Bob Dylan on Tears

Bob begins his show on tears as follows:

Well, welcome to Theme Time Radio Hour. In the background, some very sad music because this week, we’re gonna learn about sad clowns, crocodiles, and tear-stained make-up. We’re gonna look at a river of tears as we learn about crying. kleenexSo grab yourself some Kleenex, heck, you better grab the whole box. Not that songs about crying are necessarily sad. This one at least sounds happy. It’s by Question Mark and the Mysterians–“96 Tears.”

Here are some of the lyrics to the song:

question markToo many teardrops
For one heart to be crying
Too many teardrops
For one heart to carry on 

You`re way on top now since you left me
You’re always laughing way down at me
But watch out now, I`m gonna get there

We`ll be together for just a little while
And then I`m gonna put you way down here
And you`ll start crying ninety-six tears
Cry, cry, cry…

Hmmm, if this guy who is singing was a friend of mine actually going through a similar experience, how could I be helpful?

Are you listeningWell, just listening for awhile in a caring manner is almost always a good start. Rather than to be too quick to start offering advice or criticizing in any way, I might just softly summarize, every couple of minutes, what my friend has been saying, thus assuring him that I am accurately listening.  If my summary is off the mark in any way, my friend will clarify.

After some time, it will become apparent that my friend has communicated the main part of his or her story. It is at this point that I would start to ask a few questions using the DIG Conflict Model.  The word “DIG” helps to remind me to look for a “desire,” what is “interfering” with the desire, and a perception of “guilt.”

conflict triangle 2

In this example, one obvious desire that the guy has is to get to “the top.”  This is a little vague, so I might ask for some clarification about this.  Then, I would ask my friend questions about what he thinks is interfering with his getting on top. I would then seek to explore my friend’s perception that his former lover is guilty of doing something wrong. It seems to be about his lover laughing at him.  But why this bothers him so much is a worthwhile issue to discuss.

digThe word “DIG” in this conflict model also reminds us to dig a little deeper to figure out other desires that are part of this overall experience.  Another desire that this guy apparently has, judging from the song lyrics, is that he wishes his lover cared so much for him that she wouldn’t have left. To help my friend clarify this issue, I would ask if he still wishes his love had not left.  If so, I would explore what had interfered with this desire and if he thinks his lover is guilty for leaving.  This line of discussion might lead to some ideas about how my friend might win his lover back, or how he could avoid in any future romance repeating any mistakes that might have occurred.

Finally, I would explore with my friend his desire to not be crying.  I understand that many people in our culture feel it is an immature act. You see this when someone does begin to cry in front of you and he or she quickly starts to apologize for crying. Is there some reason to change this attitude that crying is an act that only immature people do? Different people have different views about this.

Getting Back to the Dylan Show

AnitaAfter Bob opens his tear-soaked Theme Time Radio Hour show with “96 Tears,” which gave us an example of a man being bitter about his break-up with his lover, he plays a song by the lovely and talented Anita O’Day. In “And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine” Ms. O’Day provides us a woman’s perspective on what it’s like to be crying over how a lover mistreated her.

And her tears flowed like wine
Yes, her tears flowed like wine
She’s a real sad tomato
She’s a busted valentine
Knows her momma done told her
That the man is darn unkind

Next up on Bob’s show is a tune by the great blues singer, Bobby Charles, who reminds us that even “Big Boys Cry:”

Bobby CharlesI cried last night until I couldn’t
I’ll cry tonight, I know I shouldn’t
It hurts to know that I can’t reach her
I learned to lose, she was my teacher

Well I try to hide all the tears down deep inside
But even big boys cry 

I climb the walls, I chew my fingers
I run around but her love lingers
Her friends say she don’t talk about me
They say she’s doing fine without me

Well I try to hide all the tears down deep inside
But even big boys cry

Well I try to hide all the tears down deep inside
But even big boys cry

There are quite a variety of songs that Bob Dylan plays that remind us that crying is part of life for pretty much everyone. Bob introduces one of my favorites like this:

Thomas FullerThomas Fuller once said, “We’re born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed. Hank Williams knew what he was talking about. This song is about a very specific depression inspired by a troubled relationship with his wife, Audrey Sheppard. Here that Lonesome Whippoorwill. He sounds too blue to fly. I’m so lonesome I can cry.

What human being is unable to relate to these sad lyrics?

Hank WilliamsI’ve never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry

Did you ever see a robin weep
When leaves begin to die?
Like me, he’s lost the will to live
I’m so lonesome I could cry

 The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I’m so lonesome I could cry

After a couple of more sad songs, Bob lightens things up a bit:

We still have plenty of tears to shed here on Theme Time Radio Hour’s crying edition.

He then plays a little of the audio track from the movie A League of Their Own. Tom Hanks, playing a manager of a women’s baseball team begins to shout criticism of one of his players.  We hear the player begin to cry. Incredulous, Tom asks, “Are you crying?”

league of our own“No,” comes the reply from player, but then we hear her weeping.

“Are you crying?” Tom asks again, but now he is yelling. “There’s no crying! There’s no crying in baseball! There’s no crying in baseball!!! No Crying!!!!!”

For those who didn’t see the movie, it might be hard to understand why this scene strikes so many of us as funny, while touching at the same time.  I guess you just have to see the movie to understand. I will say this, despite what Tom says in the movie, I have seen many men even in the major leagues crying after losing a big game. Often, they throw a towel over their head in an effort to hide their tears.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes

As Bob’s tear-fest show begins to wind down, he provides us a quote from Oliver Wendell Homes-“Laughter and tears are meant to turn the wheels of the same machinery of sensibility. One is wind power, the other, water power.”

Then he he tells us that “poets have always used crying as an inspiration. Here’s an example by Dylan Thomas.”

 Clown In The Moon

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas

My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.

I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.

Well that’s pretty much my blog post for today. I hope it has provided you some food for thought about this whole crying stuff. And with that, let’s end with the words that Bob uses as he ends his show on tears:

Woodrow WilsonWell, the old clock on the wall says it’s time to go. It’s a good thing because I’m out of Kleenex anyway. So I’m gonna hop in my car, head down the Robinson Freeway and get myself a beer I can cry into. In the meantime, remember the words of our former president, Woodrow Wilson: There is little for the great part of history except the bitter tears of pity and the hot tears of wrath.

Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.



Bob Dylan On Fools
Bob Dylan On Happiness

About the Author

Jeffrey Rubin grew up in Brooklyn, received his PhD from the University of Minnesota and has taught conflict resolution there as well as at a psychiatric clinic, a correctional facility and a number of public schools. He has published articles on anger and conflict resolution and has authored three novels.

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