You know, plenty of people asked me what I meant when I wrote the song "Mr. Tambourine Man". Contrary to popular belief, I didn't write the song about my experiments with LSD and marijuana. Though not against the Trailblazer spirit (as demonstrated by various Jailblazers and a very red eyed Bill Walton), the song wasn't about drugs. Instead, I was trying to capture, in song, the Portland Trailblazers signing of Deron Williams in the summer of 2012.
Here is the chorus I wrote:
"Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you."
In traditional songs, the tambourine man keeps the beat of the song going. But in this case, I'm not referring to musicians. I'm talking about NBA point guards. More specifically: Deron Williams. The chorus is a rallying cry for fans to tweet, shout, cheer, sing, make signs, to show support for Deron Williams as he arrives for his only game in Portland during the 2011-12 season.
"Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand,
Vanished from my hand,
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet,
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming."
When I spoke of the evening's empire returning into sand, I was actually trying to depict the fall of the "Dynasty" that Roy, Aldridge, and Oden represented. In both the song and in our reality, people started panicking about the future of the trailblazers once Roy retired and Oden fell to an injury. The future vanished from their handheld devices and they became blind from reading Blazersedge all night instead of sleeping. There was a feeling of dread and being lost I wanted to capture.
"Take me on a trip upon your magic swirling ship
My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wandering
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way
I promise to go under it"
Okay, I was on drugs when I wrote this part. I actually don't remember what it means. Tom Waits told me he thought it was about fans contemplating mass suicide from on top the Burnside Bridge, a result of their championship parade dreams being shattered. I'm not sure I agree with him but it sure beats Leonard Cohen's interpretation, which was even more melancholy.
"Though you might hear laughing, spinning, swinging madly across the sun
It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escaping on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facing
And if you hear vague traces of skipping reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it's just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn't pay it any mind, it's just a shadow you're
Seeing that he's chasing"
This part is where things start making sense again. Clearly, the Blazers have signed Deron Williams at this point but as he learns to play with Aldridge, he struggles to please fans. The Blazers are still struggling as a team and still haven't solved their rebounding problem as they are aimlessly spinning, laughing, and swinging madly across the sun (the basketball) without aiming for it. The shadow refers to the ghost of the Frailblazers from 1978 and 2011 and also the Jailblazers. Some critics consider this a warning sign that the Blazers need to retain/sign certain players who can rebound this summer.
"Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow."
This is where the future gets good. The smoke ring has two meanings. First, it connotes a victory cigar induced by the mind via Freudian psychoanalysis that is by no means phallic. Second, because trailblazer has a fiery context, the smoke ring actually symbolizes a glittery, diamond filled championship ring for the Trailblazers. In this verse, only one hand is free because the other is holding a championship trophy. At this point, Deron Williams has taken the two hour drive and has taken his talents to Cannon Beach, hence the fog, the frozen leaves, the scary trees, and the windy beach.
He is offering us hope for tomorrow.
Thus, it only makes sense to cheer him on for tomorrow's game.
Please show the Tambourine Man some love.