Lecherous and Treacherous

Listening to  Early Roman Kings against the trailer for Strike Back, the Cinemax show, is an odd disconnect, not because the action and muted soundtrack of the video is distracting, but because the show seems to be all about strategic, choreographed high tech violence between good guys and bad guys, and the song is all about guys already so powerful-bad they terrorize and lay waste by swarming in top hats and tails and gold rings. They’ll take your city and your women, they don’t need to plan a course of action and wear camouflage. So I like a lot the funny choice of pairing this song with that footage. Bob Dylan’s cartoony outlaw-kings are nastier than soldiers, spies, and operatives saving the free world in the desert sand. Which sounds about right.

The irresistible Mannish Boy tune makes the song impossible to get out of your head, even before you’re done listening.  On paper the rhymes are cheap, sung they’re tasty and vicious. Isis tells us this is only half the song, and I look forward to hearing where this collage will go from here.  I think David’s Horatii  suit at least this portion of the song pretty much as well as the Gangs of New York. You’re never in one epoch at a time with Bob Dylan.

I hope everyone who cares is following developments on Harold Lepidus’s excellent Examiner blog. Subscribe right now if you haven’t already. I’m copying here the lyrics which Lepidus posted today, via Caroline Schwartz Schwarz of Facebook, thanks to both [NB: Correspondence with Mr Lepidus revealed that the correct spelling is Caroline Schwarz.]

All the early Roman kings
In their shark skin suits
Bow ties and buttons

High top boots
Drivin’ the spikes in *
Blazin’ the rails
Nailed in their coffins
Top hats and tails
Fly away over
Fly away flap your wings
Fly by night
Like the early Roman kings
They’re peddlers and they’re meddlers
They buy and they sell
They destroyed your city
They’ll destroy you as well
They’re lecherous and treacherous
A-Hell bent for leather *
Each of ’em bigger

Than all men put together
Sluggers and muggers
Wearin fancy gold rings
All the women going crazy
For the early Roman kings


6 thoughts on “Lecherous and Treacherous

  1. I am trying something different with this album….

    I am trying not to read any reviews of it until I have heard the songs themselves….

    I will let you know if it changes how they feel to me

    Did you get a listen at a streaming site?

    I’m not going to ask what did you think because I’m afraid you might answer


    1. I’m working on the Zen koan nature of this comment. Meanwhile, at the show last night in Bethel Woods, I overheard a gentleman telling some new acquaintances, “I saw Bob Dylan play in Greenwich Village in 1959,” and then inform them that Amazon.com already has “Fifteen million orders for the new record.” So ponder that while I try to answer and not answer your question at the same time…

      1. itunes.com/bobdylan

        Im probably the 1,000,000 link you’ve received about this but you never know…. Anyway you will not regret the 70 or so minutes you spend with this album.

        But you knew that already didnt you?


  2. Fifteen million? That does not seem remotely possible. If it is true, Sony and the record industry will build a Bob statue in solid gold.

    1. Indeed! That was, er, my point–the gentleman meant well, but his facts were rather fanciful. He saw Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village in 1959?

      1. Ha! I missed that. Maybe he meant some carnival in New Mexico?

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