Track of the Day: 'Sweetheart Like You'

John Gurnick is the latest reader contributor to the series on complicated patriotism:

I submit Mister Dylan’s song for these lyrics:

They say that patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings
Steal a little and they throw you in jail
Steal a lot and they make you king

It’s also a complicated ballad for other reasons:

Oliver Trager’s book, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, mentions that some have criticized this song as sexist. Indeed, music critic Tim Riley makes that accusation in his book, Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary, singling out lyrics like “a woman like you should be at home/That's where you belong/Taking care of somebody nice/Who don't know how to do you wrong.” However, Trager also cites other interpretations that dispute this claim.[7] Some have argued that “Sweetheart Like You” is being sung to the Christian church (“what's a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?”), claiming that Dylan is mourning the church’s deviation from scriptural truth.

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