And then, against an Irish waltz of fiddle and accordion, there's its titular 14-minute-long pseudo oral history of the sinking of the Titanic. Never one to skimp on details, here Dylan tells us about mothers and daughters "jumping into the icy waters," staircases made from "brass and punished gold," and an anecdote about a guy who, if I'm hearing Dylan correctly, never learned to swim so he gives his life vest to a crippled child and now feels better about the situation. He adds extra phlegm-rattling gravitas to any mention of children and never falls out of rhyme. For 14 minutes! He namechecks John Astor, the captain, and Leonardo the Actor. Also Kiel, some guy Leo evidently liked to hang out with on the ship who was maybe edited out of the movie because he wasn't good-looking enough? Not sure.
In honor of Tempest's release today—and also because we really like the image of Bob Dylan bent over a laptop, furiously Googling random facts about the U.S.S. Titanic—we pulled some choice lyrical quotes from the song. To get in the right frame of mind, you might first want to watch this bonus clip from Titanic's just-released Blu-ray edition, in which Kate Winslet screen tests with Jeremy Sisto as Jack and confuses your middle school fantasies, then stream the entire album for free on iTunes (the song "Tempest" begins around the 21:20 mark), the latter of which comes highly recommended.
• Leo took his sketchbook/He was often so inclined/He closed his eyes and painted/The scenery in his mind.
• He heard a loud commotion/Something sounded wrong/His inner spirit was saying/That he couldn't stand here long.
• He staggered towards the quarterdeck/No time now to sleep/Water on the quarterdeck/Was already three foot deep.
• Lights down in the hallway/Flickering dim and dull/Dead bodies already floating/In the devil's bottom hole.
• Passengers were flying/backwards, forwards, fine and fast/They mumbled, fumbled and tumbled/Each one more wearing than the last.
• The watchman lay there dreaming/At 45 degrees/He dream the Titantic was sinking/drumming to her knees.
• Wellington, he was sleeping/His bed began to slide/His valiant heart was beating/He pushed the tables aside.
• His men and his companions/Were nowhere to be seen/In silence there he waited for/Time and space to intervene.
• The rich man Mr. Astor/Kissed his darling wife/He had no way of knowing/May be the last trip of his life.
• Cal and Blake and Winston/Gambled in the dark/Not one of them would ever live to/Tell the tale of disembark.
• Davey the brothel keeper/Came out, dismissed his girls/Saw the water getting deeper/Saw the changing of his world.
• Leo said to Kiel/"I think I'm going to mad"/But he lost his mind already/Whatever mind he had.
• The host was pouring brandy/He was going down slow/He stayed right 'till the ending/He was the last to go.
• The captain barely breathing/Kneeling at the wheel/Above a man beneath him/Fifty thousand tons of steel.
• He looked over at his compass/And he gazed into its face/Needle pointing downward/He knew he lost the race.
• When the reaper's task had ended/Sixteen hundred had gone to rest/The good, the bad, the rich, the poor/The loveliest and the best.
It's a sad song.
Follow Lauren Beck on Twitter at @heylaurenbeck.