It’s Bob Dylan’s Birthday: Here are 27 of his most memorable lyrics.

Via Jay Winston
on May 24, 2011
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In His Own Words…

If ya haven’t heard, May 24 is Bob Dylan’s birthday.

Such a momentous occasion is, of course, being celebrated throughout the newsmedia and blogosphere with lists of his “best” albums and songs, breeding, needless to say, all kinds of disagreement (I mean, come on, Rolling Stone, 70 selections and no “Song to Woody,” no “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later),” no “Caribbean Wind,” not one  song off Street Legal, for god’s sake?!).

Bypassing such silly controversy (seriously, who the hell cares what Bono’s favorite songs are?!), I thought I’d pay tribute to the great songsmith’s gift for words with…his words: twenty-seven (that’s ¼ of a yoga mala, y’know) memorable Dylan lines that I happened to think of while writing this, starting with one that couldn’t be more appropriate for a birthday.

“He not busy bein’ born is busy dyin’…” (It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding)

“What drives me to you is what drives me insane…” (Isis)

“May you always know the truth, and see the light surrounding you…” (Forever Young)

“She says, ‘You can’t repeat the past.’ I say, ‘You can’t? What do you mean,
you can’t? Of course you can…’” (Summer Days)

“If God is on our side, he’ll stop the next war…”  (With God on Our Side)

“Are you ready to risk it all, or is your love in vain?” (Is Your Love in Vain)

“Let me forget about today until tomorrow…” (Mr. Tambourine Man)

“There are many here among us, who feel that life is but a joke…” (All Along the Watchtower)

“I think we better talk this over, maybe we both get sober…” (We Better Talk This Over)

“I saw one man who was wounded in love, I saw another man who was wounded in hatred…” (A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall)

“I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now…” (My Back Pages)

“Whatever colors you have in your mind, I’ll show them to you, and you’ll see them shine…” (Lay Lady Lay)

“Don’t reach out to me, she said, can’t you see I’m drowning, too?”  (High Water (For Charlie Patton))

“Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king…” (Sweetheart Like You)

“I could make it without you if I just did not feel so all alone…” (Obviously 5 Believers)

“Shedding off one more layer of skin, keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within…” (Jokerman)

“She said your debutante just knows what you need, but I know what you want…” (Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again)

“A letter from mother came today, gunshot wound to the breast, is what it did say, but he’ll be better soon, he’s in a hospital bed, but he’ll never be better, he’s already dead…” (‘Cross the Green Mountain)

“Don’t follow leaders, but watch the parking meters…” (Subterranean Homesick Blues)

“All my fathers they come down, true love they’ve been without it, but all their daughters are puttin’ me down, ’cause I don’t think about it…” (I Want You)

“But I feel nothing for their game, where beauty goes unrecognized, all I feel is heat and flame, and all I see are dark eyes…” (Dark Eyes)

“I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes, you’d know what a drag it is to see you…” (Positively 4th Street)

“I offered up my innocence, I got repaid with scorn…” (Shelter From the Storm)

“When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothing to lose…” (Like a Rolling Stone)

“Don’t criticize what you can’t understand…” (The Times They Are A’Changin’)

“I accept chaos. I am not sure whether it accepts me. I know some people are terrified of the bomb. But then some people are terrified to be seen carrying a modern screen magazine. Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most…” (liner notes, Bringing It All Back Home)

“Nothing is revealed…” (the Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest)


About Jay Winston

Jay S. Winston, founder and proprietor of Yoga for Cynics (, has a PhD in English, making him the kind of doctor who, in case of life-threatening emergency, can explain Faulkner while you die, is currently (semi-)(un-)employed as a freelance writer and editor, teaches creative writing to homeless men, tutors recovering addicts in reading, was recently certified as a Kripalu yoga teacher, gets around mostly by bicycle, is trying to find an agent for his novel, resides in the bucolic Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, State of Mildly Inebriated Samadhi, U.S.A. and, like most people who bike and practice yoga, used to live in Boulder.


8 Responses to “It’s Bob Dylan’s Birthday: Here are 27 of his most memorable lyrics.”

  1. Love this and love Dylan. I was a high school folk singer when he went electric. Really pissed us folksingers off. But not for long.

    I hereby declare this to be an honorary Yoga blog. And perhaps it's time to bring back this, Dylan's most Yogic song:… . It only got 216 hits and I always thought it would get thousands.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
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  2. Varina says:

    Ah, Jay. I wish we could toast him with a drink together.

  3. Sue Jackson says:

    Best Dylan tribute of many I've heard/seen today! Thanks for the nod to "Sweetheart Like You" — one of my top favorites. "Snap out of it, baby, people are jealous of you; they smile to your face but behind your back they hiss. What's a sweetheart like you doin' in a dump like this?"

  4. Me, too, Varina, me too…

  5. […] Bob Dylan made an offhand remark in his film documentary, that “progress obliterates the past.” I mentioned that to my musician buddy Dave, who’s on the same time-line as Dylan, and he insisted that Dylan was completely wrong as technology has made it easy to record everything so nothing is lost. […]

  6. Stewart J. Lawrence says:


  7. […] in being a beloved house-hold name, in fact he outright rejected becoming like everyone else. He was interested in speaking his truth. Sometimes when we exist in that sweet spot we effortlessly channel our craft, we flow with our […]