Positively Bob Dylan

Fine Bob Dylan stuff. Since 1997.

Visions of Johanna

(Bob Dylan)

From the album: Blonde On Blonde (1966)
 PBD pick  

 4.7/5 (790 votes)

23 comments

Lisa "Ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face" Has anyone here heard of Trigeminal Neuralgia? Mar 10, 2017
Joe Dylan, a man of many hats.. The greatest artist of all time. the candy child music fans that disagree? I drop his songbook upon a desk with a resounding thunk.. end of story Sep 03, 2016
Steve Wann Possibly the greatest song ever. Apr 19, 2015
justin case what's your interpretation of that line, "the ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face"? i think it refers to the look on the face that people who use a lot of LSD get--this ghostly glow that seems to come out of the bones of their face. i saw it often years ago when i experimented with acid. everyone who did a lot of acid got that ghostly glow in their face. dylan was using a lot of psychedelics in this era. a point that cant be downplayed when interpreting his songs. Mar 14, 2015
Scott H One of Dylan's true masterpieces...perhaps his greatest song in the early period. It contains many definitive word pictures, perhaps none greater than "inside the museums, infinity goes up on trial...voice echo this is what salvation must be like after awhile..." Oct 05, 2011
Singing Bear The finest song in popular music. May 22, 2011
Kevin Ghosts will always make you examine yourself... they tend ta know it all May 19, 2011
Robert E The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face is probaly the most amazing lyric written by anyone ever. May 19, 2011
Andy simply gorgeous song. the lyrics are so peotic, and they seem to simply pervey emotion without any real meaning in the words themselves. Dylan seems to just find, or maybe even create, meanings to words that no one else has. For some reason when Dylan described this album as "the wild mercurial sound" he was dead on. i guess leave it to the artist to find how to abstractly describe the abstract. And that is Motophsyco Nitemare Bill haha, you're Feb 21, 2011
Christy I adore this song and consider it to be one of his best. Blonde On Blonde was his masterpiece and it made me fall in love with the music of Bob Dylan! Sep 21, 2009
Bill "we sit here stranded, tho we're all doin' our best to deny it!" "...He said, what do doctors Know about farms, pray tell? I said, I was born At the bottom of a wishing well." (xtra credit if you know what song this line is from) Dylan was born at the bottom of a wishing well, and we are all the better for it! Mar 19, 2009
SLUMDOG Simply the most emotive song ever written with the best melody ever sung. Feb 17, 2009
Kim I fell in love with this song the very first time I heard it.It opens with some of the best lines I've ever heard in a song. But what really strikes me is the way he specifically says "Johanna". I probably can't explain it, but it seems to convey a type of sympathy and mournful mood at the same time. Apr 29, 2008
Diana Wolf This song has to be one of the most beautiful songs ever written. There are lines in this which create visual portraits in my mind, and more importantly heart and soul. Something about it is haunting, it embraces you, you can fall into it like a lover's arms. Comfort and the shadow are present... that kind of comfort where things are hard, and even though they are you can still sit with the person who it is hard with and feel the polarities, the love as well as the distance. Maybe this isn't making any sense. Here is an example: "The ghost of 'lectricity howls in the bones of her face" Can you envision two lovers in an old loft,or a dinky hotel... light from the neon signs blinking on and off seep into the room through the blinds. A woman lies in the bed under the window, her lover is watching her, perhaps she is crying, or sad, perhaps they are making love.Her face has high cheekbones, large eyes, angles accentuated with the blinking neon. Just gorgeous. And what is so beautiful about the poetry of thsis song... and all good poetry is that we each find our own meanings, and the meanings change over the years. I have several versions of this song on a playlist and each one had a different feel to it... so it changes for Bob too, which is why he has to be the most amazing artist ever to hit the planet from wherever he came from! Of course today I say it is the most beautiful, yet another song pops up and i think, this has got to be one of my favorite Dylan songs! Jan 20, 2007
Pete It's the sound, to me. The words are brilliant -- arguably it's his most fully realized poem -- but the performance is ineffable. It's not just the vocal, it's the sympathy and strength and pain and togetherness floating through the playing that holds the attention and tells the story. On the out-take, the wordless moan is as powerful a line as any in the lyric, and the released cut contains and channels and frames that precise emotion in a way that is unmatched anywhere. We are all lost, permanently, the void is entirely real, and yet tragedy is as unimportant as joy or any other doom. Except maybe beauty. Also, the drums are perfect. Jan 20, 2007
Mark Klein If you have to pick a #1, this works. Yes, Like A Rolling Stone changed the world. But fJohanna is just exquisite. And one of his best vocals. Ginsberg said that Dylan had become "a column of air", a shaman of holy breath. And this is the song where that perception was realized. "Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're trying to be so quiet? We all sit here stranded though we do our best to deny it. " Well, fuck man - yeah. Not sure I wanted you to point that out, but truth is a bitch. I once read of a masquerade party in Sydney where the guests were supposed to come as characters from Dylan's songs. I'd probably try to come as Einstein disguised as Robin Hood, but I bet a LOT of the characters came from "Johanna". Louise, the jelly faced woman with the mustache, the night watchman, little boy lost . But for me the song has the greatest single line he ever wrote: "The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face." A vision. A painting. The story of a life in a line. Sep 06, 2006
andrew mccoy i only wish this song was longer than brownsville girl i love love love love love this song love isnt a good enough word to descibe this song and these visions of johanna keep me up past the morn is my favourite expression in this song as ive had many a sleepless night worrying and thinking about loved 1s its the way he sings it as well uyou want to take his pain away from him i really do think bob was having a really bad time during this time in his life with drugs woman people who he thought were friends or knew wearnt but kept them around anyway frank zappa famously gave dylan a hard time on a song on sheik yer booty im also a massive zappa fan and the imitation he does of dylan is mastorful its a take on the songs on blonde on blonde desperation tortured regretful and out of his nut on mandrex what was an anthetamine based tablet and put a few downers into the mix and you got a guy who is all over the place this song and a few others on blonde on blonde really bring this home to the forefront i think this is dylans least favourite period in his life yet he produced his best writing and he was also writing at an alarming rate 1 of the true imsomniacs of that generation he had no time for sleep i can picture him everynight getting maybe 2 hours sleep at the table were his typewriter was thanks for the ong but your health is more important man is what i grew to think as i turned into an adult still its done and im glad that he wrote it Jul 18, 2006
Kate D. This song makes you feel the longing and the pain of an absent lover. My favorite line is, "And Louise holds a handful of rain, tempting you to defy it." Who hasn't lost a lover and felt that way? Jun 07, 2006
jenny kelly when i was a kid,this to me was sophistication Apr 11, 2006
sillygal33436 Postively in my top ten......ain't it just like Bob to play tricks that never fail to expose his true lyrical genius Apr 09, 2006
Isis One of the songs you can put on repeat and fall asleep listening to at night. Mar 14, 2006
Tiffany Bob is at his best here. How could anything in music sound any better. Feb 26, 2006
John S. Paul I have been asked, "If you were stranded on an island and could only have one album what would it be?" It would be 'Blonde on Blonde'! And if it was narrowed down to a song, 'Visions of Johanna' without a doubt. Pure musical genius! Jan 18, 2006
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Related songs & albums

All songs on Blonde On Blonde
Track Song
1 Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Bob Dylan)
2 Pledging My Time (Bob Dylan)
3 Visions of Johanna (Bob Dylan)
4 One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) (Bob Dylan)
5 I Want You (Bob Dylan)
6 Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again (Bob Dylan)
7 Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob Dylan)
8 Just Like a Woman (Bob Dylan)
9 Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine) (Bob Dylan)
10 Temporary Like Achilles (Bob Dylan)
11 Absolutely Sweet Marie (Bob Dylan)
12 4th Time Around (Bob Dylan)
13 Obviously 5 Believers (Bob Dylan)
14 Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (Bob Dylan)
Visions of Johanna appears on these albums
Year Album
1966 Blonde On Blonde
1985 Biograph
1998 The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 - Live 1966
2005 The Bootleg Series Vol. 7 - No Direction Home: The Soundtrack
2013 Side Tracks
2015 The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-1966
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