Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941) is an American folk and rock singer-songwriter, born in Duluth, Minnesota. In 2016 Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature, "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition".
- Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can't sing, I call a poem.
- Because Dickens and Dostoyevsky and Woody Guthrie were telling their stories much better than I ever could, I decided to stick to my own mind.
- "Only Human Driftin' And Learnin'" by Sidney Fields, New York Mirror (9 December 1963)
- There's no black and white, left and right to me anymore; there's only up and down and down is very close to the ground. And I'm trying to go up without thinking about anything trivial such as politics. They has got nothing to do with it. I'm thinking about the general people and when they get hurt.
- Address to the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (13 December 1963)
- I am a writer an a singer of the words I write I am no speaker nor any politician an my songs speak for me because I write them in the confinement of my own mind an have t cope with no one except my own self.
- do Not create anything, it will be
misinterpreted. it will not change.
it will follow you the rest of your life.
- "Advice for Geraldine on Her Miscellaneous" (1964)
- a poem is a naked person . . . some people say that I am a poet
- He's a pinboy. He also wears suspenders. He's a real person. You know him, but not by that name... I saw him come into the room one night and he looked like a camel. He proceeded to put his eyes in his pocket. I asked this guy who he was and he said, "That's Mr. Jones." Then I asked this cat, "Doesn't he do anything but put his eyes in his pocket?" And he told me, "He puts his nose on the ground." It's all there, it's a true story.
- When asked about the meaning of the song "Ballad of a Thin Man" during a 1965 interview.
- I don't call myself a poet because I don't like the word.
- Bob Dylan Interview by Nora Ephron & Susan Edmiston (1965)
- I find it easy to write songs. I been writing songs for a long time and the words to the songs aren't written out just for the paper; they're written as you can read it, you dig. If you take whatever there is to the song away—the beat, the melody—I could still recite it. I see nothing wrong with songs you can't do that with either—songs that, if you took the beat and the melody away, they wouldn't stand up because they're not supposed to do that, you know. Songs are songs.
- Interview with Paul Robbins (March, 1965)
- I accept chaos. I am not sure whether it accepts me. I know there are some people terrified of the bomb, but there are others terrified to be seen carrying a Modern Screen magazine. Experience teaches that silence terrifies the most.
- Reporter: How many people who labor in the same musical vineyard in which you toil - how many are protest singers? That is, people who use their music, and use the songs to protest the, uh, social state in which we live today: the matter of war, the matter of crime, or whatever it might be.
Bob Dylan: Um...how many?
Reporter: Yes. How many?
Bob Dylan: Uh, I think there's about, uh...136.
Reporter: You say about 136, or you mean exactly 136?
Bob Dylan: Uh, it's either 136 or 142.
- Press conference in Los Angeles, California (17 December 1965), as seen and heard in No Direction Home.
- Bob Dylan: I do know what my songs are about.
Playboy: And what's that?
Bob Dylan: Oh, some are about four minutes; some are about five, and some, believe it or not, are about eleven or twelve.
- Playboy Interview (February 1966)
- Colleges are like old-age homes; except for the fact that more people die in colleges.
- Playboy Interview (February 1966)
- I don't believe you! You're a liar! … Play it fucking loud!
- Dylan's response to the shout of "Judas" by a heckler, followed by his instructions to his band over the count-in to "Like A Rolling Stone." Heard on The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966
- Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb.
- God, I'm glad I'm not me.
- Said when reading a newspaper article about himself in Dont Look Back (1967)
- You have to be let alone to really accomplish anything.
- Interview by Hubert Saal, "Dylan is Back," Newsweek (26 February 1968)
- I used to think that myself and my songs were the same thing. But I don't believe that any more. There's myself and there's my song, which I hope is everybody's song.
- Interview by Hubert Saal, "Dylan is Back," Newsweek (26 February 1968)
- My songs always sound a lot better in person than they do on the record.
- The Rolling Stone Interview: Bob Dylan (29 November 1969)
- Greed and lust I can understand, but I can't understand the values of definition and confinement. Definition destroys. Besides, there's nothing definite in this world.
- Neil Hickey TV Guide interview (11 September 1976)
- Ron Rosenbaum: Why are you doing what you're doing?
Bob Dylan: [Pause] Because I don't know anything else to do. I'm good at it.
Ron Rosenbaum: How would you describe "it"?
Bob Dylan: I'm an artist. I try to create art.
- Playboy Interview (1978)
- I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I'll die like a poet.
- Art is the perpetual motion of illusion. The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?
- Bob Dylan: The Rolling Stone Interview by Jonathan Cott (26 January 1978)
- I kinda live where I find myself.
- The Rolling Stone Interview: Bob Dylan (21 June 1984)
- I think women rule the world, and that no man has ever done anything that a woman either hasn't allowed him to do or encouraged him to do.
- Rolling Stone interview (21 June 1984)
- I wanted just a song to sing, and there came a certain point where I couldn't sing anything. So I had to write what I wanted to sing 'cos nobody else was writing what I wanted to sing.
- At certain times I read a lot of poetry. My favorite poets are Shelley and Keats. Rimbaud is so identifiable. Lord Byron. I don't know. Lately if I read poems, it's like I can always hear the guitar. Even with Shakespeare's sonnets I can hear a melody because it's all broken up into timed phrases so I hear it. I always keep thinking, 'What kind of song would this be?'
- Interview with Denise Worrell, "'It's All Right in Front': Dylan on Life and Rock" in Time Magazine (25 November 1985)
- Chaos is a friend of mine.
- Newsweek (9 December 1985)
- I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.
- Interview published with the Biograph album set (1985)
- If the songs are dreamed, it's like my voice is coming out of their dream.
- Quoted in Robert Shelton's No Direction Home (1986), p. 281
- I think a poet is anybody who wouldn't call himself a poet. Anybody who could possibly call himself a poet just cannot be a poet.
- Quoted in Robert Shelton's No Direction Home (1986), p. 353
- When I first heard Elvis's voice I just knew that I wasn't going to work for anybody and nobody was going to be my boss. He is the deity supreme of rock and roll religion as it exists in today's form. Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail. I think for a long time that freedom to me was Elvis singing 'Blue Moon of Kentucky.' I thank God for Elvis.
- US magazine (24 August 1987); on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, as reported in Bob Dylan: Performing Artist 1986–1990 and Beyond, Mind out of Time (2009)
- The first two lines, which rhymed 'kiddin' you' and 'didn't you,' just about knocked me out, and later on, when I got to the jugglers and the chrome horse and the princess on the steeple, it all just about got to be too much.
- It's not to anybody's best interest to think about how they will be perceived tomorrow. It hurts you in the long run.
- Bob Dylan: The Song Talk Interview by Paul Zollo (1991)
- My sense of rhyme used to be more involved in my songwriting than it is... Still staying in the unconscious frame of mind, you can pull yourself out and throw up two rhymes first and work it back. You get the rhymes first and work it back and then see if you can make it make sense in another kind of way. You can still stay in the unconscious frame of mind to pull it off, which is the state of mind you have to be in anyway.
- Bob Dylan: The Song Talk Interview by Paul Zollo (1991)
- People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around — the music and the ideas.
- The Guardian (13 February 1992)
- That ear - I mean, Jesus, he's got to will that to the Smithsonian.
- In reference to Brian Wilson, Newsweek (1997)
- Here's the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else.
- Dylan Revisited, Newsweek (1997)
- I change during the course of a day. I wake and I'm one person, and when I go to sleep I know for certain I'm somebody else. I don't know who I am most of the time. It doesn't even matter to me.
- Dylan Revisited, Newsweek (1997)
- I'm inconsistent, even to myself.
- Quoted in "POP/JAZZ; A Wiser Voice Blowin' In the Autumn Wind" by Jon Pareles, The New York Times (28 September 1997)
- Bob Dylan: The media is all-pervasive. What can a writer think of to write that you don't see every day in a newspaper or on television?
Interviewer: ...Do you think that TV and the media have killed poetry and literature?
Bob Dylan: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. ... What's a writer to do if every idea is exposed in the media before he can get to it or let it evolve? What's a writer gonna write about? ... We're living in a science-fiction world. We're living in a world that Disney has conquered. Disney's science fiction. Theme parks, trendy streets, it's all science fiction. So I would say, if a writer has got something to say, he'll have to do it in that–
Interviewer: Outside of the real world?
Bob Dylan: There is a real world. Science fiction has become the real world. Whether we realize it or not, it has.
- The Rome Press Conference (23 July 2001)
- We may not be able to defeat these swine, but we don't have to join them.
- I had ambitions to set out and find, like an odyssey or going home somewhere… set out to find… this home that I’d left a while back and couldn’t remember exactly where it was, but I was on my way there. And encountering what I encountered on the way was how I envisioned it all. I didn’t really have any ambition at all. I was born very far from where I’m supposed to be, and so, I’m on my way home, you know?
- No Direction Home (2005)
- I didn't go to classes. I just didn't feel like it.
- No Direction Home (2005)
- An artist has gotta be careful never really to arrive at a place where he thinks he's at somewhere. You always have to realize that you're constantly in a state of becoming.
- No Direction Home (2005)
- You don't need my autograph. If you needed it, I'd give it to you.
- No Direction Home (2005)
- You can't be wise and in love at the same time.
- No Direction Home (2005)
- I had no answers to any of those questions any more than any other performer did, really. But, you know, that didn't stop the press or people or whoever they were from asking these questions. They, for some reason the press thought that performers had the answers to all these problems in the society and you know, like what can... What can you say to something like that? I mean, it's just kind of absurd.
- No Direction Home (2005)
- I read On the Road in maybe 1959. It changed my life like it changed everyone else's.
- On the influence of Jack Kerouac on him, as quoted Grasping for the Wind : The Search for Meaning in the 20th Century (2001) by John W. Whitehead
- Someone handed me Mexico City Blues in St. Paul [Minnesota] in 1959 and it blew my mind. It was the first poetry that spoke my own language.
- On the influence of Jack Kerouac, as quoted in Jack Kerouac (2007) by Alison Behnke, p. 100
- I think it's the land. The streams, the forests, the vast emptiness. The land created me. I'm wild and lonesome. Even as I travel the cities, I'm more at home in the vacant lots. But I have a love for humankind, a love of truth, and a love of justice. I think I have a dualistic nature. I’m more of an adventurous type than a relationship type.
- London Times interview (2009)
- It’s not a character like in a book or a movie. He’s not a bus driver. He doesn’t drive a forklift. He’s not a serial killer. It’s me who’s singing that, plain and simple. We shouldn’t confuse singers and performers with actors. Actors will say, “My character this, and my character that.” Like beating a dead horse. Who cares about the character? Just get up and act. You don’t have to explain it to me.
- Bob Dylan, interview with Bill Flanagan. telegraph.co.uk (13 April 2009).
- It's peculiar and unnerving in a way to see so many young people walking around with cellphones and iPods in their ears and so wrapped up in media and video games. It robs them of their self-identity. It's a shame to see them so tuned out to real life. Of course they are free to do that, as if that's got anything to do with freedom. The cost of liberty is high, and young people should understand that before they start spending their life with all those gadgets.
- Rolling Stone #1078 (14 May 2009), p. 45
- The people in my songs are all me.
- "Bob Dylan Sounds Off On The Origin Of His New Record, Parlor Music, Dr. Dre, And Who His Songs Are About", Huffington Post (20 May 2009)
Chronicles: Vol. One (2004)
- It wasn't money or love that I was looking for. I had a heightened sense of awareness, was set in my ways, impractical and a visionary to boot. My mind was strong like a trap and I didn't need any guarantee of validity.
- p. 9
- I was heading for the fantastic lights. No doubt about it. Could it be that I was being deceived? Not likely. I don't think I had enough imagination to be deceived; had no false hope, either. I'd come from a long ways off and had started from a long ways down. But now destiny was about to manifest itself. I felt like it was looking right at me and nobody else.
- p. 22
- Morality has nothing in common with politics.
- p. 45
- What was the future? The future was a solid wall, not promising, not threatening—all bunk. No guarantees of anything, not even the guarantee that life isn't one big joke.
- p. 49
- Opportunities may come along for you to convert something—something that exists into something that didn't yet.
- p. 51
- America was changing. I had a feeling of destiny and I was riding the changes... My consciousness was beginning to change, too, change and stretch.
- p. 73
- I had been in a motorcycle accident and I'd been hurt, but I recovered. Truth was that I wanted to get out of the rat race. Having children changed my life and segregated me from just about everybody and everything that was going on. Outside of my family, nothing held any real interest for me and I was seeing everything through different glasses.
- p. 114
- I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of.
- p. 115
- I'm a '60s troubadour, a folk-rock relic, a wordsmith from bygone days, a fictitious head of state from a place nobody knows. I'm in the bottomless pit of cultural oblivion.
- p. 147
- Sometimes you say things in songs even if there's a small chance of them being true. And sometimes you say things that have nothing to do with the truth of what you want to say and sometimes you say things that everyone knows to be true. Then again, at the same time, you're thinking that the only truth on earth is that there is no truth on it. Whatever you are saying, you're saying in a ricky-tick way. There's never time to reflect. You stitched and pressed and packed and drove, is what you did.
- p. 220
- I put one on the turntable and when the needle dropped, I was stunned — didn't know if I was stoned or straight... All these songs together, one after another made my head spin. It made me want to gasp. It was like the land parted.
- Referring to the first Woody Guthrie record he ever heard, p. 243
- [Ref Rimbaud line 'Je est un autre,]' “which translates into ‘I is someone else.’ When I read those words the bells went off. It made perfect sense. I wished someone would have mentioned that to me earlier.”
- The road out would be treacherous, and I didn’t know where it would lead but I followed it anyway. It was a strange world ahead that would unfold, a thunderhead of a world with jagged lightning edges. Many got it wrong and never did get it right. I went straight into it. It was wide open. One thing for sure, not only was it not run by God, but it wasn’t run by the devil either.
- p. 293
Nobel Banquet Speech
- If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I'd have about the same odds as standing on the moon.
- I began to think about William Shakespeare, the great literary figure. I would reckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writing literature couldn't have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I'm sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: "Who're the right actors for these roles?" "How should this be staged?" "Do I really want to set this in Denmark?" His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. "Is the financing in place?" "Are there enough good seats for my patrons?" "Where am I going to get a human skull?" I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare's mind was the question "Is this literature?"
- As a performer I've played for 50,000 people and I've played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona, not so with 50. Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried.
- Like Shakespeare, I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspects of life's mundane matters. "Who are the best musicians for these songs?" "Am I recording in the right studio?" "Is this song in the right key?" Some things never change, even in 400 years. Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, "Are my songs literature?" So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer.
Talking New York
- You sound like a hillbilly; We want folk singers here.
- A lot of people don't have much food on their table
But they got a lot of forks and knives
And they gotta cut something
- I’m out here a thousand miles from my home
Walkin' a road other men have gone down
I'm seein' your world of people and things
Your paupers and peasants and princes and kings
- Hey, hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song,
'Bout a funny ol' world that's a-comin' along
Seems sick an' it's hungry, it's tired an' it's torn
It looks like it's a-dyin' an' it's hardly been born
- Here's to Cisco an' Sonny an' Lead Belly too
An' to all the good people that traveled with you
Here's to the hearts and the hands of the men
That come with the dust and are gone with the wind
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)
- How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?
- Yes, and how many years can a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea?
- How many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn't see?
- How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?
- Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?
- The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.
- So if you're travelin' in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.
- But I see through your eyes
- All the money you made will never buy back your soul.
- You ain't worth the blood that runs in your veins.
- There is one thing I know though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would not forgive what you do
- And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead
- Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
And where have you been, my darling young one?
- I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it.
- I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken.
- I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world.
- I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin'.
- I met a white man who walked a black dog.
- And I'll tell it and speak it and think it and breathe it.
- But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’.
- It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.
- It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don't know by now
- Compare: "It ain't no use to sit and sigh now, darlin." Paul Clayton, Who's Gonna Buy You Ribbons (When I'm Gone).
- I once loved a woman, a child I am told
I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul.
- I'm walkin' down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I'm bound, I can't tell
But goodbye's too good a word, babe
So I'll just say fare thee well
- Compare: "So I'm walkin' down that long, lonesome road..." Paul Clayton, Who's Gonna Buy You Ribbons (When I'm Gone).
- I ain't saying you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right.
- I got into the driver's seat and drove down 42nd Street in my Cadillac.
Good car to drive after a war.
- Half of the people can be part right all of the time,
Some of the people can be all right part of the time,
But all the people can't be all right all the time.
I think Abraham Lincoln said that.
I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.
I said that.
The Times They Are A-Changin' (1964)
- Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown.
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
- Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s naming.’
For the loser now will be later to win
- Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'.
- Come Congressmen, Senators, please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall
For he who gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it's ragin’.
- You prayed to the Lord above
Oh please send you a friend
Your empty pockets tell yuh
That you ain’t a-got no friend
- There’s seven people dead
On a South Dakota farm
Somewhere in the distance
There's seven new people born
- If there's anyone who knows, is there anyone who cares?
- You never ask questions When God's on your side
- You don't count the dead When God's on your side
- But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side
- The words fill my head, and fall to the floor, that if God's on our side, he'll stop the next war.
- Oh all the money that in my whole life I did spend
Be it mine right or wrongfully
I let it slip gladly past the hands of my friends
To tie up the time most forcefully
- Compare: "Of all the money e'er I had, I spent it in good company. And all the harm e'er I've done, Alas! it was to none but me." The Parting Glass.
- But if the arrow is straight
And the point is slick
It can pierce through dust no matter how thick
- Oh, but if I had the stars from the darkest night
And the diamonds from the deepest ocean
I'd forsake them all for your sweet kiss
For that's all I'm wishin' to be ownin'.
- Well, if you, my love, must think that-a-way,
I'm sure your mind is roamin'.
I'm sure your heart is not with me,
But with the country to where you're goin'.
Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)
- All I really want to do is, baby, be friends with you.
- I ain't looking for you to feel like me, see like me, or be like me.
- Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll,
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing.
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds,
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing.
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight,
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight,
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night,
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.
- Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail,
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder,
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind,
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind,
An’ the poet and the painter far behind his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.
I Shall Be Free No. 10
- It ain't no use a-talking to me
It's just the same as talking to you
- I'm a poet, and I know it.
- Everything passes
Just do what you think you should do
And someday maybe
Who knows, baby
I'll come and be cryin' to you
- Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
- Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
"Rip down all hate," I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull.
- In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand at the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy in the instant that I preach
My existence led by confusion boats, mutiny from stern to bow.
- I had to say something to strike him very weird so I yelled out "I like Fidel Castro and his beard."
- All is gone, all is gone, admit it, take flight.
I gagged twice, doubled, tears blinding my sight.
My mind it was mangled, I ran into the night
Leaving all of love's ashes behind me.
The wind knocks my window, the room it is wet.
The words to say I'm sorry, I haven't found yet.
I think of her often and hope whoever she's met
Will be fully aware of how precious she is.
Ah, my friends from the prison, they ask unto me,
"How good, how good does it feel to be free?"
And I answer them most mysteriously,
"Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?"
- Go away from my window,
Leave at your own chosen speed,
I'm not the one you want, babe,
I'm not the one you need.
You say you're looking for someone,
Who's never weak but always strong,
To protect you and defend you,
Whether you are right or wrong,
Someone to open each and every door,
But it ain't me, babe,
No, no, no, it ain't me, babe,
It ain't me you're looking for, babe.
Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
- Complete lyrics here
- Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trenchcoat
Badge out, laid off
Says he's got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doin' it again
- You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows
- Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army, if you fail
- Don't follow leaders
Watch the parkin' meters
- Twenty years of schoolin'
And they put you on the day shift
- The pump don't work
'Cause the vandals took the handles
- She's got everything she needs, she's an artist, she don't look back.
- She could take the dark out the nighttime and paint the daytime black.
- You will start out standing, proud to steal her anything she sees, but you will wind up peeking through her keyhole down upon your knees.
- Well, I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them
- I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
- There's no success like failure, and failure's no success at all.
- She knows too much to argue or to judge.
- In the dime stores and bus stations,
People talk of situations,
Read books repeat quotations,
Draw conclusions on the wall.
- Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'. I just might tell you the truth.
- I said, "You know they refused Jesus, too"
He said, "You're not Him"
- The ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.
- And if you hear vague traces of skipping reels of rhyme...
- It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run
- Take me disappearing, through the smoke rings of my mind, down the foggy ruins of time...
- Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free.
- 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 following you.
- All and all can only fall with a crushing but meaningless blow.
- And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden.
- Of war and peace the truth just twist, its curfew gull it glides.
- Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child's balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying
- Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool's gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying
- While others say don't hate nothing at all
- Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It's easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred
- Even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked
- An' though the rules of the road have been lodged
It's only people's games that you got to dodge
- Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you
- You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ear to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you
- It is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.
- Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to
- While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in
- But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it's alright, Ma, if I can't please him
- Money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony
- And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They'd probably put my head in a guillotine
But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only
- Yonder stands your orphan with his gun, crying like a fire in the sun.
- Your lover who just walked out the door, has taken all his blankets from your floor.
- Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you.
Forget the dead you've left, they will not follow you.
- The vagabond who's rapping at your door,
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore,
Strike another match, go start anew!
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.
Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
- You got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend. When I was down, you just stood there grinning.
- Do you take me for such a fool to think I'd make contact with one that tries to hide what he don't know to begin with.
- I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes. You'd know what a drag it is to see you.
- How does it feel? To be on your own, with no direction home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone?
- Once upon a time you dressed so fine, threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you.
People call, say beware doll, you're bound to fall, you thought they were all, kiddin you.
- You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal
- You never turned around to see the frowns, on the jugglers and the clowns when they all did, tricks for you.
- Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people, they're drinkin', thinkin' that they got it made
- Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse.
When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
You're invisible now. You've got no secrets to conceal.
- The sun's not yellow, it's chicken.
- Stop all this weeping, swallow your pride
You will not die, it’s not poison
- The geometry of innocence flesh on the bone
Causes Galileo’s math book to get thrown
At Delilah who sits worthlessly alone
But the tears on her cheeks are from laughter
- And the National Bank at a profit sells road maps for the soul
To the old folks home and the college
- And if I don't make it, you know my baby will.
- Well, I wanna be your lover, baby, I don't wanna be your boss.
- And you say, Oh my God, am I here all alone?
- You've been with the professors and they've all liked your looks. With great lawyers you've discussed lepers and crooks.
- You go watch the geek, who immediately walks up to you when he hears you speak, and says, how does it feel to be such a freak?, and you say, impossible as he hands you a bone.
- And something is happening here, but you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?
- Here's your throat back, thanks for the loan.
- You put your eyes in your pockets and your nose on the ground.
- They already expect you to just give a check to tax-deductible charity organization.
- Oh God said to Abraham, Kill me a son.
Abe says, Man, you must be puttin' me on.
God say, No. Abe say, What?
God say, You can do what you want Abe, but
the next time you see me comin' you better run.
Well Abe says, Where do you want this killin' done?
God says, Out on Highway 61.
- Up on Housing Project Hill, it's either fortune or fame. You must pick one or the other, though neither of them are to be what they claim.
- They're selling postcards of the hanging
- Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the door knob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they're quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can't read too good
Don't send me no more letters no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row
- Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
- The Titanic sails at dawn
- And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain's tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers...
Blonde on Blonde (1966)
- But I would not feel so all alone, everybody must get stoned!
- They’ll stone ya and then they’ll say, “good luck”
- Somebody got lucky, but it was an accident.
- Oh Mama, can this really be the end? To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again?
- And here I sit so patiently waiting to find out what price you have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice.
- The one was Texas medicine. the other was just railroad gin. And, like a fool, I mixed them and it strangled up my mind and now people just get uglier and I have no sense of time.
- Your debutante knows what you need, but I know what you want.
- You see, you're just like me. I hope you're satisfied.
- Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're trying to be so quiet.
- We sit here stranded, though we're all doin' our best to deny it.
- And Louise holds a handful of rain, tempting you to defy it.
- He’s sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
- Inside the museums, infinity goes up on trial.
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But, Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues
you can tell by the way she smiles
- The ghost of 'lectricity howls in the bones of her face.
- Name me someone that's not a parasite and I'll go out and say a prayer for him.
- Louise she's all right she's just near'
She's delicate and seems like veneer'
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear'
That Johanna's not here
- But these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel.
- I couldn’t see what you could show me
Your scarf had kept your mouth well hid
- I couldn’t see when it started snowin’
Your voice was all that I heard
- She is good to me
There's nothing she doesn't see
She knows where I’d like to be
But it doesn’t matter...
I want you
- Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Well, you must tell me, baby
How your head feels under somethin' like that
Under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
- Compare: "I saw you riding 'round in your brand new automobile/ Yes I saw you ridin' around, babe, in your brand new automobile/ Yes you was sitting there happy with your handsome driver at the wheel/ In your brand new automobile." Lightnin' Hopkins, Automobile Blues.
- Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I stand inside the rain
- She takes just like a woman, yes she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.
- But to live outside the law, you must be honest.
- Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?
- With your sheets like metal and your belt like lace,
And your deck of cards missing the jack and the ace,
And your basement clothes and your hollow face,
Who among them can think he could outguess you?
John Wesley Harding (1967)
- "No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late"
- "Nothing is revealed"
Nashville Skyline (1969)
- I once held her in my arms,
She said she would always stay,
But I was cruel, I treated her like a fool,
I threw it all away.
- Love is all there is, it makes the world go 'round
Love and only love, it can’t be denied
No matter what you think about it
You just won’t be able to do without it
Take a tip from one who's tried
- Lay, lady, lay. Lay across my big, brass bed.
- Whatever colors you have in your mind. I'll show them to you and you'll see them shine.
- His clothes are dirty, but his hands are clean, and you're the best thing that he's ever seen.
- You can have your cake and eat it, too.
- Stay, lady, stay. Stay while the night is still ahead.
- Throw my ticket out the window,
Throw my suitcase out there too,
Throw my troubles out the door, I don't need them anymore,
'Cause tonight I'll be staying here with you.
Self Portrait (1970)
- Ev'rybody's in despair,
Ev'ry girl and boy
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
Ev'rybody's gonna jump for joy.
- Come all without, come all within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.
- I like to do just like the rest,
I like my sugar sweet, but guarding fumes and making haste,
it ain't my cup of meat.
- A cat's meow and a cow's moo,
I can recite 'em all,
just tell me where it hurts you, honey,
and I'll tell you who to call.
- People disagreeing everywhere you look
Makes you wanna stop and read a book
Planet Waves (1974)
- May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung. May your song always be sung, May you stay forever young.
- May your hands always be busy. May your feet always be swift. May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift. May your heart always be joyful. May your song always be sung. May you stay forever young.
- I paid the price of solitude but at least I'm out of debt.
- I hate myself for loving you.
Blood on the Tracks (1975)
- Early one mornin' the sun was shinin',
I was layin' in bed
Wond'rin'if she'd changed at all
If her hair was still red.
- Tangled up in blue...
- Lord knows I've paid some dues gettin' through...
- I helped her out of a jam, I guess, but I used a little too much force...
- And every one of them words rang true and glowed like burnin' coal. Pourin' off of every page, like it was written in my soul from me to you...
- The only thing I knew how to do was to keep on keepin' on like a bird that flew...
- All the people we used to know, they're an illusion to me now...
- Don't know how it all got started, I don't know what they do with their lives...
- We always did feel the same, we just saw it from a different point of view...
- But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind,
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind,
- I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air.
- You're an idiot, babe. It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe.
- I can't help it if I'm lucky.
- Visions of your chestnut mare shoot through my head and are makin' me see stars.
- I waited for you on the running boards, near the cypress trees, while the springtime turned slowly into autumn.
- Idiot wind, blowing through the buttons of our coats, blowing through the letters that we wrote.
Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves,
We're idiots, babe. It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves.
- It was gravity which pulled us in and destiny which broke us apart
- You tamed the lion in my cage but it just wasn't enough to change my heart
- Down the highway, down the tracks, down the road to ecstacy,
I followed you beneath the stars, hounded by your memory and all your ragin' glory
- You'll never know the hurt I suffer, nor the pain I rise above, and I'll never know the same about you...
- I kiss good-bye the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me.
- I’m going out of my mind, oh, oh; with a pain that stops and starts; like a corkscrew to my heart; Ever since we’ve been apart
- A change in the weather is known to be extreme; but what's the sense in changing horses in mid-stream?
- Time is a jetplane — it moves too fast. Oh but what a shame that all we've shared can't last...
- Love is so simple, to quote a phrase; you've known it all the time, I'm learnin' it these days.
- I know where I can find you — in somebody's room. It's the price I have to pay, you're a big girl all the way.
- Backstage the girls were playin' five-card stud by the stairs,
Lily had two queens, she was hopin' for a third to match her pair.
Outside the streets were fillin' up, the window was open wide,
A gentle breeze was blowin', you could feel it from inside.
Lily called another bet and drew up the Jack of Hearts.
- Beauty walks a razor's edge, someday I'll make it mine.
- Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm...
- "Come in", she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm."
- I always have respected her for doin' what she did and gettin' free
- Say for me that I'm all right though things get kind of slow
She might think that I've forgotten her don't tell her it isn't so.
- Sundown yellow moon I replay the past
I know every scene by heart they all went by so fast
- If she's passing back this way I'm not that hard to find
Tell her she can look me up if she's got the time.
The Basement Tapes (1975)
Crash On The Levee (Down In The Flood) (recorded 1967)
- Well, it's sugar for sugar
And salt for salt
If you go down in the flood
It's gonna be your own fault
- Compare: "I give you sugar for sugar, but all you want is salt for salt/ Well if you can't get along with me, then it's your own fault." Richard Brown, James Alley Blues.
Open the Door, Homer (recorded 1967)
- Take care of all your memories. said my friend Mick, For you cannot relive them.
This Wheel's on Fire (recorded in 1967)
- If your mem'ry serves you well, we were gonna meet again and wait, so I think I'll just unpack my bags and sit before it gets too late.
No man alive will come to you with another tale to tell, but you know that we shall meet again, if your mem'ry serves you well.
- If your memory serves you well, I was gonna confiscate your lace and wrap it up in a sailor's knot and hide it in your case.
And if I knew for sure that it was yours, it was oh so hard to tell, and you know that we shall meet again, if your memory serves you well.
- If your memory serves you well, I remember you're the one who called out me to call out them to get your business done.
And after every plan has failed, and there was nothing left to tell, well you knew that we shall meet again if your memory serves you well.
- Wheels on fire, rolling down the road, best notify my next of kin, this wheel shall explode!
- Here comes the story of The Hurricane, the man the authorities came to blame for something that he never done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he coulda been the champion of the world.
- Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land, where justice is a game.
- There's lots of pretty girls in Mozambique.
- Don't turn away, you'll create sorrow,
Time is an ocean but it ends at the shore,
You may not see me tomorrow.
Is Your Love In Vain?
- I have dined with kings, I've been offered wings
And I've never been too impressed
Slow Train Coming (1979)
- It may be the Devil or it may be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody.
- You may call me Bobby; you may call me Zimmy...
- Now there's spiritual warfare, flesh and blood breaking down. You either got faith or you got unbelief, and there ain't no neutral ground.
- The enemy is subtle. How be it we're deceived? When the truth's in our hearts and we still don't believe.
- My so-called friends have fallen under a spell: they look me squarely in the eye and say, "Well; all is well."
- We are covered in blood, girl. You know both our forefathers were slaves. Let us hope they've found mercy in their bone-filled graves.
I Believe in You
- They'd like to drive me from this town; they don't want me around, 'cause I believe in you.
- I believe in you even on the morning after.
- Have they counted the cost it'll take to bring down all the earthly principles they're gonna have to abandon?
- All that foreign oil controlling American soil. Look around you, it's just bound to make you embarrassed: sheiks walking around like kings, wearing fancy jewels and nose rings, deciding America's future from Amsterdam and to Paris.
- Man's ego's inflated, his laws are outdated. They don't apply no more. You can't rely no more to be standing around waiting.
- Fools glorify themselves, trying to manipulate Satan.
- The enemy I see wears a cloak of decency.
- People starving and thirsting; grain elevators are bursting. You know, it costs more to store the food than it do to give it.
- They talk about a life of brotherly love? Show me someone who knows how to live it.
- It sure do bother me to see my loved ones turning into puppets.
Gonna Change My Way of Thinking
- (Alternate version.) A brave man will kill you with a sword, a coward with a kiss.
Do Right to Me Baby
- Don't wanna judge nobody — don't wanna be judged.
When You Gonna Wake Up
- You got some big dreams, baby, but in order to dream you gotta still be asleep.
- Counterfeit philosophies have polluted all of your thoughts; Karl Marx has got you by the throat, and Henry Kissinger's got you tied up into knots.
- You got innocent men in jail, your insane asylums are filled.
- Do you ever wonder just what God requires? You think he's just an errand boy to satisfy your wandering desires.
- They tell you "Time is money," as if your life was worth its weight in gold.
- When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?
When He Returns
- Truth is an arrow, and the gate is narrow that it passes through.
Shot of Love (1981)
- In the fury of the moment I can see the Master's hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand
- I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand
- Variant: "I am hanging in the balance of a perfect, finished plan" (The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1–3)
- Freedom just around the corner for you, but with truth so far off, what good will it do?
- Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, both of their futures so full of dread.
- Shedding off one more layer of skin, keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within.
- You go to Sodom and Gomorrah, but what do you care? Ain't nobody there would want to marry your sister.
- You look into the fiery furnace, see the rich man without any name.
- The book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers.
- The rifleman's stalking the sick and the lame; preacherman seeks the same. Who'll get there first is uncertain.
- A woman just gave birth to a prince today and dressed him in scarlet. He'll put the priest in his pocket, put the blade to the heat, take the motherless children off the street and place them at the feet of a harlot.
Sweetheart Like You
- 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.
- Just how much abuse will you be able to take? Well, there's no way to tell by the first kiss.
- They say in your father's house there's many mansions; each one of 'em got a fireproof floor.
- 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.
- There's only one step down from here, baby. It's called the Land of Permanent Bliss.
Man of Peace
- Sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.
- Nobody sees through him — no, not even the chief of police.
- He could be standing next to you, the person that you notice least.
- He's following a star, the same one that the three men followed east.
I and I
- Some one else is speaking with my mouth, but I'm listening only to my heart.
- Took a stranger to teach me to look into justice's beautiful face, and to see an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
- A lot of people complaining that there is no work. I say, "Why you say that for?" When nothin' you got is US-made — they don't make nothin' here no more.
- Capitalism is above the law; it's said it don't count 'less it sells.
- It's sundown on the union that was made in the USA. Sure was a good idea till greed got in the way.
- Democracy don't rule the world; you'd better get that in your head. This world is ruled by violence.
Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight
- Yesterday's just a memory; tomorrow's never what it's supposed to be.
License to Kill
- Man thinks 'cause he rules the earth, he can do with it as he please. And if things don't change soon, he will.
- For man has invented his doom; first step was touching the moon.
- Man is opposed to fair play: he wants it all, and he wants it his way.
Empire Burlesque (1985)
- What looks large from a distance, close up ain't never that big.
- I live in another world, where life and death are memorized.
- I can hear another drum beating for the dead that rise, whom Nature's beast fears as they come.
- Time is short and the days are sweet and passion rules the arrow that flies.
- All I see are dark eyes.
- If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself.
Abandoned Love (recorded 1975)
- I've been deceived by the clown inside of me. I thought that he was righteous but he's vain.
- My patron saint is a-fighting with a ghost. He's always off somewhere when I need him most.
- Let me feel your love one more time before I abandon it.
Up to Me (recorded 1974)
- I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity.
- If I thought about it, I never would have done it, I guess I would have let it slide.
- The old Rounder in the iron mask slipped me the master key, somebody had to unlock your heart, he said it was up to me.
- It frightens me the awful truth of how sweet life can be.
- When you bite off more than you can chew, you pay the penalty, somebody's got to tell the tale, I guess it must be up to me.
- Somebody's got to cry some tears, I guess it must be up to me.
Knocked Out Loaded (1986)
- Forgive me, baby, for what I didn't do.
Brownsville Girl (with Sam Shepard)
- [Recounting a scene in The Gunfighter] Turn him loose, let him go, let him say he outdrew me fair and square — I want him to feel what it's like to every moment face his death.
- I can't believe we've lived so long and are still so far apart.
- I know she ain't you, but she's here, and she's got that dark rhythm in her soul.
- She said, "Welcome to the land of the living dead," but you could tell she was so brokenhearted — she said, "Even the swap meets around here are getting pretty corrupt."
- We're going all the way, till the wheels fall off and burn, till the sun peels the paint and the seat covers fade and the water moccasins die.
- I didn't know whether to duck or to run, so I ran.
- When I saw you break down in front of the judge and cry real tears, it was the best damn thing I saw anybody do.
- I've always been the kind of person who doesn't like to trespass, but sometimes you just find yourself over the line.
- I feel pretty good, but that ain't saying much — I could feel a whole lot better, if you were just here by my side to show me how.
- The only thing we knew for sure about Henry Porter was that his name wasn't Henry Porter.
- Strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than those who are most content.
- You always said people don't do what they believe in; they just do what's most convenient, then they repent.
Down in the Groove (1988)
Death is Not the End
- Oh, the tree of life is growing where the spirit never dies
And the bright light of salvation shines in dark and empty skies.
Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 (1988)
- Tweeter and the Monkey Man were hard up for cash
They stayed up all night selling cocaine and hash
To an undercover cop who had a sister named Jan
Who for reasons unexplained she loved the Monkey Man
- Jan had told him many times "it was you to me who taught:
in Jersey anything's legal as long as you don't get caught"
- We live in a political world
Where mercy walks the plank,
Life is in mirrors, death disappears
Up the steps into the nearest bank.
Ring Them Bells
- Ring them bells Sweet Martha
For the poor man's son
Ring them bells so the world will know
That God is one
Oh the shepherd is asleep
Where the willows weep
And the mountains are filled with lost sheep.
Under the Red Sky (1990)
Hard Times In New York Town (recorded 1961)
- They'll kick you when you're up and knock you when you're down.
T.V. Talking Song
- Your mind is your temple, keep it beautiful and free. Don't let an egg get laid in it by something you can't see.
Let Me Die In My Footsteps (recorded 1962)
- Let me die in my footsteps before I go under the ground.
- I'd throw all the guns and the tanks in the sea, for they are mistakes of a past history.
Moonshiner (recorded 1963)
- The whole world's a bottle, And life's but a dram, When the bottle gets empty, It sure ain't worth a damn.
- When you cease to exist, then who will you blame?
Blind Willie McTell (recorded 1983)
- Well, God is in His heaven
And we all want what's his
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is
I'm gazing out the window
Of the St. James Hotel
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell
- Drinkin' man listens to the voice he hears,
In a crowded room full of covered up mirrors,
Lookin' into the lost forgotten years
Time Out of Mind (1997)
- I'm sick of love but I'm in the thick of it.
- Last night I danced with a stranger, but she just reminded me you were the one.
- I'll eat when I'm hungry, drink when I'm dry
- It's not dark yet, but it's getting there...
- Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain
- I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
- Feel as though my soul has turned into steel. I've still got the scars that the sun didn't heal.
- I could hold you for a million years
- I think what I need might be a full-length leather coat
Somebody just asked me
If I registered to vote
The Essential Bob Dylan (2000)
Things Have Changed (recorded 1999)
- Feel like falling in love with the first woman I meet... Putting her in a wheel barrow and wheeling her down the street.
- People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range,
I used to care, but things have changed.
- I've been trying to get as far away from myself as I can
- I hurt easy, I just don't show it, you can hurt someone and not even know it
- All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie
- You can't win with a losing hand
- If the Bible is right the world will explode
- Well I tried my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants you to be just like them
Love and Theft (2001)
- My clothes are wet, tight on my skin/but not as tight as the corner I painted myself in.
- You can always come back, but you can't come back all the way.
- I was walking through the leaves Falling from the trees.
Feelin' like a stranger nobody sees.
- So many things that we never will undo
I know you're sorry, I'm sorry too.
- Drownin' in the poison, got not future got no past.
- But my heart is not weary; it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for those who've sailed with me.
- Politician's got on his jogging shoes, he must be running for office, got no time to lose
- I'm sittin' on my watch so I can be on time.
- The future for me is already a thing of the past.
- I'm gonna baptize you in fire so you can sin no more.
Lonesome Day Blues
- I'm gonna spare the defeated—I'm gonna speak to the crowd
I'm gonna spare the defeated, boys, I'm going to speak to the crowd
I am goin' to teach peace to the conquered
I'm gonna tame the proud
Honest with Me
- I'm not sorry for nothin' I've done
I'm glad I fought—I only wish we'd won
- I might need a good lawyer, could be your funeral, my trial
Well, I cried for you, now it's your turn, you can cry awhile
Modern Times (2006)
Thunder on the Mountain
- Gonna forget about myself for a while, gonna go out and see what others need.
- Gonna get me an army, some tough sons o' bitches
I recruit my army from the orphanages.
- I sucked the milk out of a thousand cows.
- Take your clothes, put 'em in a sack. You goin' down the road, baby, and you can't come back. Someday baby, you ain't gonna worry po' me any more.
Workingman's Blues #2
- In the dark I hear the night birds call
I can feel a lover's breath
I sleep in the kitchen with my feet in the hall
Sleep is like a temporary death
- If I catch my opponents ever sleepin', I'll just slaughter 'em where they lie.
Together Through Life (2009)
I Feel A Change Coming On
- I'm listening to Billy Joe Shaver
And I'm reading James Joyce
Some people they tell me
I've got the blood of the land in my voice
Long Time Gone (recorded 1962)
- Just give to me my gravestone
With it clearly carved upon:
"I'm a long time a-comin'
An' I'll be a long time gone"
Gypsy Lou (recorded 1963)
- She left one too many a boy behind
He committed suicide
Quotes about Dylan
- The Nobel Prize for Literature is yet another step towards immortality for Bob Dylan. The rebellious, reclusive, unpredictable artist/composer is exactly where the Nobel Prize for Literature needs to be. His gift with words is unsurpassable. Out of my repertoire spanning 60 years, no songs have been more moving and worthy in their depth, darkness, fury, mystery, beauty and humour than Bob's. None has been more of a pleasure to sing. None will come again.
- Joan Baez, as quoted in "Bob Dylan: Nobel Prize is a step towards immortality, says Joan Baez", BBC.com (14 October 2016)
- Dylan is to me the perfect symbol of the anti-artist in our society. He is against everything—the last resort of someone who doesn't really want to change the world. ... I think his poetry is punk. It's derivative and terribly old hat. ... Dylan songs accept the world as it is.
- Ewan MacColl, interview with Karl Dallas, "Focus on MacColl", Melody Maker (18 September 1965), p. 23. Quoted in No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan (1986) by Robert Shelton, p. 296.
- Bob Dylan took a lot of air out of the room when it came to songwriters. Everybody had a tough row to hoe distinguishing themselves once Bob invented our job.
- What I wanted to do with Bobby was just to get him to sound in the studio as natural, just as he was in person, and have that extraordinary personality come thru. … After all, he's not a great harmonica player, and he's not a great guitar player, and he's not a great singer. He just happens to be an original. And I just wanted to have that originality come thru.
- John Hammond (Dylan's first producer), Pop Chronicles, [Show 31 - Ballad in Plain D: An introduction to the Bob Dylan era. Part 1, interview recorded 10.4.1968.
- The minute you try to grab hold of Dylan, he's no longer where he was. He's like a flame: If you try to hold him in your hand you'll surely get burned. Dylan's life of change and constant disappearances and constant transformations makes you yearn to hold him, and to nail him down. And that's why his fan base is so obsessive, so desirous of finding the truth and the absolutes and the answers to him — things that Dylan will never provide and will only frustrate. … Dylan is difficult and mysterious and evasive and frustrating, and it only makes you identify with him all the more as he skirts identity.
- Todd Haynes, about his choice of 6 people to portray Dylan in his film I'm Not There, in "Footnote fetishism & "I'm Not There" by Jim Emerson" at The Sun-Times (9 October 2007)
- Slight, wiry, his blond, curly hair worn long, Bob Dylan never wears a tie and never lets anyone else make decisions for him. His unshakable independence courses through his songs—some of them wryly irreverent, others harshly critical of what he regards as hypocrisy and cruelty. His voice is acrid but curiously compelling, and he has become the most influential folksinger among today's teenagers—as well as among older dissenters. [...] Now 24, he is less the angry preacher of causes than he was two years ago. His songs have become more warmly personal and more deftly witty. He is cactus on the outside and romantic revolutionary within. He has no ideology except that of inner freedom. He is his own man.
- He had a lovely voice, but he was also, I think, a great poet. And he was the background music to a lot of people of my age. I don't take a lot of stock in generational thought, as you know. I think generational solidarity is the lowest form of solidarity there is. But I think that for every decade or so, every generational set, there is a special voice. And certainly for my lot, it was him.
- My hero was and still is Bob Dylan.
- I defy you to say what he'll be doing six months from now. He's just driven by pure art. You know, his son said to me..."There is no doubt that if my dad had never made it, if he was sitting on the side of the sidewalk with his guitar and a hat out in front of him, he would be doing precisely doing the same songs. His whole career would be exactly the same." Now, there is certainly hyperbole in that, but it's kind of, sort of true... If we have anybody who's Shakespeare in our time, it's Dylan, and he just speaks to me more and more, and he once said in an interview that the purpose of art was to inspire, and when you see a Dylan show...You would think he's so good, you know—if you go see a jazz cat who's so good playing bass, you can leave that show going, "Why even pick up a bass again?" But for some reason—and I'm not the only one that feels this—at the end of the Dylan show, art just seems so good. I want to go write a play, or write a novel. I'll stay up all night and write a song. And you don't care that it's not as good. The other thing that I love about Dylan is he is a freak, not a cheerleader... Dylan just stands there and says, "I am speaking for me. Maybe some of this is true for you to. I don't know. But I'm digging so deep." All of his mining, you know, is going towards his heart and deeper into his brain. He makes no attempt, that I can tell, to say, "Oh yeah, this is gonna kill 'em. This is what they'll like." And that's where universality has to live. You can't be universal if you're trying to please other people. You can only be universal if you have so clearly who you are, and Dylan has no idea who he is, but he's still searching and he's sharing that process with us.
- The conversation was flat. Suddenly, however, Dylan leapt to his feet and started berating me. He said, for example, something like, 'You'll never understand it; it happens so fast it'll go right past you,' and more of the same. I was startled, yes, but kept on trying to ask sensible, interesting questions; the attack persisted. I shrugged and left. The whole episode was entirely unprovoked... That evening, I went to the concert. My opinion then and now was that the music was unpleasant, the lyrics inflated, and Dylan a self-indulgent whining show-off.
- Horace Freeland Judson, as quoted in Down The Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan (2011) by Howard Sounes, p. 179
- He's one of the great artists of the century.
- "The stage is the only place where I'm happy." But this has its own sadnesses, like so much love. He is the one person who has to be at a Dylan concert and the one person who can't go to a Dylan concert.
- Christopher Ricks, Dylan's Visions of Sin (2003), concluding words, p. 490
- A day doesn't go by when I don't listen to Dylan or at least think about him and his art. I just think we're terrifically lucky to be alive at a time when he is.
- Christopher Ricks, as quoted in "Dylan, Master Poet? Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" by Charles McGrath, The New York Times (9 June 2004)
- Five years ago [Dylan] played a concert here at the university and I had no hand in arranging it; I was told about it rather late and could have killed the organizers. Shortly before the concert I received word to come backstage, so my wife and I went half an hour before the show. And Dylan said: "Mr Ricks, we meet at last." My reply was: "Have you read any good books lately?" [...] and he said: "Richard III". [...] Dylan wasn't at all surprised by my question and he really did want to talk about Richard III.
- Dylan creates a mythic atmosphere out of the land around us. The land we walk on every day and never see until someone shows it to us.
- Sam Shepard, The Rolling Thunder Logbook (1977), p. 63
- Dylan has invented himself. He's made himself up from scratch. That is, from the things he had around him and inside him. Dylan is an invention of his own mind. The point isn't to figure him out but to take him in. He gets into you anyway, so why not just take him in? He's not the first one to have invented himself, but he's the first one to have invented Dylan...
- Sam Shepard, The Rolling Thunder Logbook (1977), p. 100
- Dylan was a revolutionary. Bob freed your mind the way Elvis freed your body. ... To this day, wherever great rock music is being made, there is the shadow of Bob Dylan.
- Bruce Springsteen, speech for Dylan's inauguration into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (20 January 1988), quoted in Dylan: behind the shades (1991) by Clinton Heylin, p. 422
- Dylan is free now to work on his own terms. It would be foolish to predict what he will do next. But hopefully he will remain a mediator, using the language of pop to transcend it. If the gap between past and present continues to widen, such mediation may be crucial. In a communications crisis, the true prophets are the translators.
- Ellen Willis, in "Dylan" in Representative Men : Cult Heroes of Our Time (1970) edited by Theodore L. Gross
- I'll never be Bob Dylan. He's the master. If I'd like to be anyone, it's him. And he's a great writer, true to his music and done what he feels is the right thing to do for years and years and years. He's great. He's the one I look to. I'm always interested in what he's doing now, or did last, or did a long time ago that I didn't find out about. The guy has written some of the greatest poetry and put it to music in a way that it touched me, and other people have done that, but not so consistently or as intensely. Like me, he waits around and keeps going, and he knows that he doesn't have the muse all the time, but he knows that it'll come back and it'll visit him and he'll have his moment.