A Homage to Dr. John’s “Babylon”

Text by Bruce Gallanter (Downtown Music Gallery, October 14th, 2022)

“Babylon” written by Dr. John, the Night Tripper, title track from Dr. John’s 2nd album Babylon released in 1969

Is represented in the Bible by a stone
Is thrown in a river and lost in a storm
And never, never, ever again
Will anybody ever wanna call you they home

This is how you’re gonna sink, now
I don’t care whatever you may think, now
I’m gonna bring my wrath down on you, now
So you’ll feel the weight of truth, now

Gonna drop you like a rock of ages in the sea
And disappear like a pebble in eternity
Nobody wants to save what’s best left dead
A tidal wave is gonna dig your grave

Never ever again will you ever hear
The sweet sound of no beautiful singer’s voice
No angels playing guitars
Or plucking on they harps
No flutes, no trumpet players
Will be left back of Bouchon
Ain’t gonna be no ditch diggers, no construction workers
No pimps, no hustlers, no jaw jerkers

No city lights, no pretty sights
Will ever shine on you again
No more actors, no Max Factors
Will smog your mind and leave you blind
No politicians, no higher religions
To guide you from the dark
No more Love-Ins, no more Human Be-Ins
Will light up Griffin Park

On your hands is the blood of the prophets and all the holy ones
Everyone you executed with your machine guns
You’re bringing about your own destruction, Babylon

Last night, before I launched into my daily Live Dead 1 hour marathon (in chrono order, 12/5/71) of transcendent jam music, I decided to play an album that I hadn’t heard in a long while. I put on Dr. John’s second album, Babylon and marveled at how great it has remained, more than 50 years later. It was released in 1969, a year which I feel is a seminal stepping stone from psych & experimental rock into the beginning of progressive & jazz/rock, which would dominate the first half of the seventies.

Similar to the spooky, swampy, blues/funk/gospel psych of Dr. John’s debut album, ‘Gris Gris’ from the previous year, “Babylon” appears to me more political as far as the lyrics go and it also has that sly tongue-in-cheek humor that peppered the first album.

The above song, “Babylon” was an ancient city in Mesopotamia, known for its luxuries. In the bible, “Babylon represents the corporate global rebellion (Final Beast) before God that is destroyed at the very end of this present evil age.”

Hmmmmm, does this seem familiar at present?!? For some of us, Babylon represents the current Satanists: Putin/Trump/all other Right Wing Fascists/Dick-Taters/Nazi’s who are trying to take over our planet, their religion/direction is governed by Greed and Power and the Dark Forces that surround us. It seems as if you believe whichever news/opinion/propaganda you believe is real or fake, this is the side you’ve chosen.

The lyrics to each song on Babylon are worth exploring, check out “Lonesome Guitar Stranger” which mentions both Jimi Hendrix and Gabor Szabo in the lyrics. It is hilarious! “Babylon is laid to waste, Egypt’s burning in hot flames….” – appropriate early Quicksilver quote.