“Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” is a central song on Street-Legal, the album Bob Dylan released in 1978, a short time before his Christian conversion experience and the so-called Christian album trilogy of 1979–1981. Within the setting of a journey through a half-real, half-mythical landscape, the song describes an encounter between an I-figure, the singer, and his travel companion, a mysterious, silent “señor”, with the singer going through a process of growing frustration leading to a state of existential despair. The article gives a close, narrative reading of the lyrics and analyzes the song within the contexts of the album, of the development of Dylan’s religious language, of his performances of the song from 1978 to 2011, and of his own comments on it. The main conclusion is that “Señor” can be read in different ways, but that religion, and Christianity in particular, plays an important and integral part in the various readings. The song reflects Dylan’s artistic and personal situation at the time, also by foreshadowing his conversion experience, but at the same time belongs within a long trajectory of Dylan songs from the 1960s until today which deal with fundamental human themes related to history, society, social relations, religion, and life in general.
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