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Bob Dylan — It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Album: Bringing It All Back Home
Avg rating:
7.1

Your rating:
Total ratings: 2369









Released: 1965
Length: 7:27
Plays (last 30 days): 3
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

Temptation's page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you'd just be one more person crying

So don't fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It's alright, Ma
I'm only sighing

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don't hate nothing at all, except hatred

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

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked

And though the rules of the road have been lodged
It's only people's games that you got to dodge
And it's alright, Ma
I can make it

Advertising signs that 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 ears to hear that somebody thinks they really found you

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit
To satisfy, insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it that you belong to

But though the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma
To live up to

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares, propaganda, all is phony

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer's pride, security
It blows their minds most bitterly
For them that think death's honesty
Won't fall upon them naturally, life sometimes must get lonely

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false goals, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say, "Okay, I've had enough, what else can you show me?"

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
Comments (317)add comment
Who would have thought rap started in the 1960s?!? Folk rap. Laying it out in words wrapped in a blanket of music.
Ooooooh.

Ahhhhhh.

"Piss and vinegar" Bob.

Preach on, brother. 
No no no no no no no no no!

thx anyway. Sad he knows so many chords and created so many delightful melodies but just can’t get out of his own way on this one. 👎🏼👎🏼
 soundman21121 wrote:
The very last thing I need to see is a naked U.S president. I have enough to trouble sleeping as it is.



 kazoo wrote:

Shuddered when I heard "But even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked". Ugh!



Preach on Brother Bob. 

Like a sermon on the Mount. 
Exactly. Folk Rap, circa 1965. Respect.
Read. The. Lyrics.
Read them.
Who cares about his voice.
Read the lyrics as he raps them out.
Profound and insightful of society then, and unfortunately, now. 
Bob is the man.
 steeler wrote:

Uh, um, ah . . . brilliant.



Yes, one of my favorite Dylan songs. But you know: tonight it sounds like Bob is rapping. 
Always amazing
10x10
A poet of the greatest magnitude!
Hearing some roots of what would  later be known as rap.
my fav dylan song ever!!

(aren't there missing lyrics in the middle? i think some were left out.)
chilling
I just can't.   

Thank you RP for having a next button!

For those who love this, I'm happy for you.   Enjoy, I'll see you later in the playlist.
Sounds like Rodriguez 
174 "1" ratings? I don't think they bothered to listen. This is a masterpiece.


I scuff
At pettiness

well ...yeah
 Aud wrote:


Hopefully again with Trump



Wut? Whosat?
Thought it was Rodriguez when it started :) Very similar voice and musical style in this song. But I also had the same experience the other way around when I heard Rodriguez for the first time :D
Not particularly keen on Dylan  - I know, I'm beyond hope, but I never got it. This one resonates though ....... so everything else gets skipped over but I'm Alright, Ma goes straight to a 10 - ABSOLUTELY Godlike.
 pallasathene82 wrote:

You are dedefinite not alone. This song is interminable and Dylan was a terrible musician. 


My only response will be that you don't seem to understand what the word "terrible" means. Nor, as it turns out, dedefinite. or maybe it's me.
Perhaps as close to godlike as RP gets although that may be a bit of a stretch. 

This Nobel laureate had and continues to have no equal within the category for which he was nominated and won.  There were other worthy contenders.   

Prize motivation: "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."
 rbb wrote:


I heard Dylan play this song in concert sometime in the 70's after Nixon's resignation. When he sang these words, a huge roar erupted from the crowd.  That's when.


Hopefully again with Trump
 idiot_wind wrote:

Sorry, once last comment:

NOBEL PRIZE!!!!


you can comment all you like on Bob songs with your moniker, idiot_wind :) 

And like BillG said on the intro to this, there's NO WAY anyone else was writing lyrics like this and having it played on AM airwaves back in 1965.  

Long Live RP and Zimmy!!
Oh yeah.

This why they give Nobel prizes.
Great song.

Greaty song for a Friday morning.

Great song for this holiday and Christmas season.

 petvan wrote:

Somehow have lived 48 years and never heard this.   Spectacular and poignant.

Does he possibly do this live without a cheat sheet for lyrics?  



Yes, I've seen him do this one in a seemingly hypnotic trance, no cheat sheet.  
Somehow have lived 48 years and never heard this.   Spectacular and poignant.

Does he possibly do this live without a cheat sheet for lyrics?  
Sorry, once last comment:

NOBEL PRIZE!!!!
And brother Bob is again back on tour!!!

And some venues in the Midwest!!!

Road trip. Road trip? Road trip! Oooooooh. Yeah baby. 

As one travels the roads, one call ponder these words, and start their own  diatribes.

And contrary to most fans, I think this may be his best album, he's at the top of his game.   
I think these lyrics are not complete.  They're missing the stanza referring to the rat race choir.  

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.

Temptation's page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover
That you'd just be
One more person crying.

So don't fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It's alright, Ma, I'm only sighing.

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don't hate nothing at all
Except hatred.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made 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.

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But 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
And it's alright, Ma, I can make it.

Advertising signs that 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 ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not fergit
That 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.

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something
They invest in.

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him.

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.

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares Propaganda, all is phony.

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer's pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death's honesty
Won't fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes
Must get lonely.

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed graveyards
False gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough
What else can you show me?

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.
can’t sing a note.
 On_The_Beach wrote:

Dylan's music is lost on the simple-minded.


Same for his lyrics.
Sally Grossman, the recumbent lady in red just passed away age 81.  At first I thought this was Sugarman...
Punk song (with a little more words as usual)
Well,,,,it's about time you all play some Dylan.

It's cold here in the Midwest and we got the "after Christmas blues". 

So, we need some cheerful music. 

It's life...and life only. 
  
Bob's got MAD rhymes ! lol
I love Bob Dylan, but this song only has good lyrics, the actual music really lets it down.  I don't develop the same connection with it that I do with other Dylan songs because of the overly flat and repetitive delivery.  I realize it was a stylistic choice, not just 'bad writing', but it is just a  bridge to far for me (and I like Townes Van Zandt!).
Bob Dylan and Neil Young are amazing songwriters. It should be a much more vigorous debate whether they should be the ones performing their songs. Somehow Dylan does it better because he's amazing vocal storyteller. HOWEVER, it only works when it's something like Hurricane or Tangled Up In Blue. It doesn't work when it's a word-salad poetry slam like this song.

Neil Young should not be singing on anything, but that's a topic for a different song comment section.
The boss 
This is why a Nobel Prize is appropriate. I used to love this song so much I had three versions on one mix tape, the original and two live. I still love it but don't need to hear it as often. 

There are three verses ("For them that must obey authority...") and one chorus ("But I mean no harm...") missing from the lyrics of this timeless masterpiece. Please address; this should no be incomplete.
"But even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked".  

When?
 BCarn wrote:
Guess one had to be there. 
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwn.
 
No, you just have to have good taste.
Poetic telling relavent lyrics then and now
Guess one had to be there. 
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwn.
I've sent this link to RP....hafta wait for the "processing" now! The link....youtube.com/watch?v=dck6m5guuIE. For those of us listeners that enjoy the eclectic worldly sounds that Bill & Rebecca pleasure us with, hope y'all enjoy!!
 givendale wrote:
Bob can STFU whenever he is ready.

Droning whine.
 

As can you! Would HIGHLY prefer BD to YOUR whining.
 givendale wrote:
Bob can STFU whenever he is ready.

Droning whine.
 

 dandueck07 wrote:
Being a Canadian, I would have preferred that Leonard Cohen win the Nobel, but this song is an example of why  Dylan was nonetheless richly deserving of the award!  "They just don't write like that anymore."
 

Except perhaps, Billie Eilish!! Not to compare the 2, by ANY stretch of the imagination but, that young artist certainly has quite the skill at putting together some serious lyrics!!
 givendale wrote:
Bob can STFU whenever he is ready.

Droning whine.
 

Same can be said for the "whining" posts. Rather enjoy this. 
 givendale wrote:
Bob can STFU whenever he is ready.

Droning whine.
 

Ditto you. 
Hey sfy,
You should let Bob know of your dislike for his music. I'm sure he will take it under consideration, along with  tweets, polling  data, user groups, and market research. 

 


sfyi2001 wrote:


The 'immortal Robert Zimmerman' !
All the accolades in the world bestowed upon this piece don't make it a song,

Yay so the words are meaningful, call it a poem and let's hear some music.
EXCRUCIATING

{#Crown}
 

 sfyi2001 wrote:


The 'immortal Robert Zimmerman' !
All the accolades in the world bestowed upon this piece don't make it a song,

Yay so the words are meaningful, call it a poem and let's hear some music.
EXCRUCIATING

{#Crown}
 

BOO HISS, and the video is from a different SONG of BD's so there (hehehe) 


The 'immortal Robert Zimmerman' !
All the accolades in the world bestowed upon this piece don't make it a song,

Yay so the words are meaningful, call it a poem and let's hear some music.
EXCRUCIATING

{#Crown}
 JeanRose wrote:
I lived during the period of time in which Dylan wrote this.  I don't think I appreciated his depth of perception then as much as I do now. Listening to this tonight, I was totally blown away.  

I would advise anyone who was born after the late 60's/early 70's to heed his call.  Look at your world and consider your path forward.
 
 
This is exactly why I tell folks to listen to Bob's WORDS, or at the very least, READ them, before claiming it 'sucks.'  And with all the iterations of Bob, including his 'Christian' phase, there's something to be heeded, like looking out for a slow train coming.....Long Live BD and RP!!
 jimtyrrell wrote:
Thanks Lizardking for saving me alot of typing. I lived through the 60s and I find it sad that this song has as much meaning today as then. I also moved my eating to a 10 plus. long live Bob Dylan.
 

I occasionally move my eating to a 10 as well. Meanwhile, my rating is still an 8. It's alright, Ma, I'm only drinking. 
Sugar Man
 Baby_M wrote:
Darkness at the break of noon shadows even the silver spoon, a brass spittoon, a child’s balloon eclipses both the sun and moon as the Cubs once more swoon in June to understand you know too soon you cannot bake the macaroon as in your car you drive and hoon down twisted roads in Cameroon that wind around between the dunes—to change the rhyme's inopportune, this poetry that does impugn the purity of our commune in Illinois, just near Mattoon ten thousand miles from the lagoon where Gilligan, that goofy goon has made himself a contrabassoon from coconuts he picked at noon, and serenades his pet raccoon in the driving rain (monsoon) and you may think him a buffoon but Ginger's underwear is strewn across the sand because she swooned over the sound of his bassoon and for a tryst it was opportune for the Skipper would not be back soon and Thurston Howell was by the dunes reading poems of Rod McKuen. Now this may all sound picayune but I assure you that this tune from all critique, it is immune because it's Dylan and festooned with lyrics enough for a dozen tunes and from the blues it was hewn by a master at the art of croon(ing) so don't you dare attempt lampoon—there is no sense in trying!
 
Find song lyrics here:  https://www.lyricsfreak.com/
The Commander-in-Chief answers him while chasing a fly
Saying, "Death to all those who would whimper and cry"
And, dropping a barbell, he points to the sky
Saying, "The sun's not yellow, it's chicken"

Yeah. Nobel prize. 
These brilliant lyrics remind me of 2008
Shuddered when I heard "But even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked". Ugh!
Being a Canadian, I would have preferred that Leonard Cohen win the Nobel, but this song is an example of why  Dylan was nonetheless richly deserving of the award!  "They just don't write like that anymore."
Sing on Brother Bob. 

The sermon has started. 
 
 On_The_Beach wrote:
Dylan's music is lost on the simple-minded.
 
Also well put. Where do you see lyrics like this today?
 lizardking wrote:

I don't think BD really cares one way or the other, although I believe the WORDS he wrote ARE worthy of the grand prize he was awarded. 

I wanted to copy & paste a few bits from this tune, and really had a hard time finding ONLY a few because the entire song resonates so well - then (summer of 1964!!) and now (fall of 2018) - so I'll let you investigate further...starting with the following passage from the Wiki page for this song (and I went 9→10 on this one today...and Long Live RP!!)

It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan and first released on his 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. It was written in the summer of 1964, first performed live on October 10, 1964, and recorded on January 15, 1965. Described by Dylan biographer Howard Sounes as a "grim masterpiece," the song features some of Dylan's most memorable lyrical images. Among the well-known lines sung in the song are "He not busy being born is busy dying," "Money doesn't talk, it swears," "Although the masters make the rules, for the wisemen and the fools" and "But even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked." The lyrics express Dylan's anger at what he sees as the hypocrisy, commercialism, consumerism, and war mentality inherent in contemporary American culture. Dylan's preoccupations in the lyrics, nevertheless, extend beyond the socio-political, expressing existential concerns, touching on urgent matters of personal experience.

 

 

 
Well said. He is brilliant and deserved the award.
How current the lyrics are.  Then and now.
Bob can STFU whenever he is ready.

Droning whine.
 SomersetBob wrote:

It is - sung by Roger McGuinn :)

 
ahhh, thank you!! 
 diannemck56 wrote:
Why does this song remind me of the movie Easy Rider?  I just checked the soundtrack and it's not listed.  I could have sworn it was.
 
It is - sung by Roger McGuinn :)
Thanks Lizardking for saving me alot of typing. I lived through the 60s and I find it sad that this song has as much meaning today as then. I also moved my eating to a 10 plus. long live Bob Dylan.
 alexandersmcmillan wrote:
I'm still in disbelief that Bob Dylan was given the Nobel Prize for Literature. I think he is, too.

 
I don't think BD really cares one way or the other, although I believe the WORDS he wrote ARE worthy of the grand prize he was awarded. 

I wanted to copy & paste a few bits from this tune, and really had a hard time finding ONLY a few because the entire song resonates so well - then (summer of 1964!!) and now (fall of 2018) - so I'll let you investigate further...starting with the following passage from the Wiki page for this song (and I went 9→10 on this one today...and Long Live RP!!)

It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan and first released on his 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. It was written in the summer of 1964, first performed live on October 10, 1964, and recorded on January 15, 1965. Described by Dylan biographer Howard Sounes as a "grim masterpiece," the song features some of Dylan's most memorable lyrical images. Among the well-known lines sung in the song are "He not busy being born is busy dying," "Money doesn't talk, it swears," "Although the masters make the rules, for the wisemen and the fools" and "But even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked." The lyrics express Dylan's anger at what he sees as the hypocrisy, commercialism, consumerism, and war mentality inherent in contemporary American culture. Dylan's preoccupations in the lyrics, nevertheless, extend beyond the socio-political, expressing existential concerns, touching on urgent matters of personal experience.

 

 

I give it a 10, only because there is no 11.
I'm still in disbelief that Bob Dylan was given the Nobel Prize for Literature. I think he is, too.
 On_The_Beach wrote:
Dylan's music is lost on the simple-minded.

 
I think Twain said something similar (obviously not about BD) - something along the lines of "to the 1/2 wit, he and the 3/2 wit are equal" - my memory of this is from 11th grade, although a lot of quotes are attached to Twain that he NEVER said...so maybe that's the story here too....

And I came here to post another "Happy 77th BD to BD!!"  Long Live RP!!

 dabeyc wrote:
it may be epic protest poetry, so sit down one day and read it. but as a song it's a bore. i am not alone in thinking this, surely.
 
You are dedefinite not alone. This song is interminable and Dylan was a terrible musician. 
Dylan's music is lost on the simple-minded.
rap is horrible now
this was horrible then
there are both pretty bad in any era

 Shut up Bob, yer shite.
it may be epic protest poetry, so sit down one day and read it. but as a song it's a bore. i am not alone in thinking this, surely.
Rap for my generation.   Though I probably prefer talking blues.
 
This song illustrates why Dylan received a Nobel prize.
Dylan was a force to be reckoned with.  Wonder what his files are like in the FBI.  He never joined protests but wrote powerful lyrics others took up.
 On_The_Beach wrote:
https://mysticalnumbers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Number-11-red.png12

 


 On_The_Beach wrote:
12
 



https://mysticalnumbers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Number-11-red.png
Jay-sus, that's epic poetry of and for social conscience if there ever was, for sure. Bump 7 > 8. 
 Stefen wrote:
Despite the lengthy lyrics reproduced here, there is an entire stanza which is missing.

 
Maybe the site has a 533-word limit.
He was full of piss and vinegar on this one.

GOOD! We need more of it!
The master at work.
 treatment_bound wrote:


Bad things happen when you listen to this song:
Related image



 
Nah, George Clooney was listening to horses when his ride blew up.

(Michael Clayton)
I lived during the period of time in which Dylan wrote this.  I don't think I appreciated his depth of perception then as much as I do now. Listening to this tonight, I was totally blown away.  

I would advise anyone who was born after the late 60's/early 70's to heed his call.  Look at your world and consider your path forward.
 
 Stefen wrote:
Despite the lengthy lyrics reproduced here, there is an entire stanza which is missing.
 
More than one, I think. Needs remediation.
Even the President of the United States Sometimes must have to stand naked.  As true today as when it was written all those years ago.
 bam23 wrote:
As the first notes appear, the brilliance of this piece is evident. After all these years. Those who despise Dylan must address this song. 

 
OK, I will address this song.

Good morning, Song.

You bore me.

Goodbye. 
Bob Dylan on Radio Paradise - emotional comments to follow:

1) How could anyone like this whiny crap?
2) Children, you don't understand!  I was there when this came out and you weren't and you had to be there and I'm much smarter than you because I never got over the 60's.
3) I met Bob Dylan once at an exclusive party with my producer and drummer. Such a delightful man.
4) Does this song have an ending?
5) His poetry is eternal and universal.  No wonder he won the Nobel Prize! (conveniently forgetting that his followers dumped him in droves with much criticism when he went through his Born Again Christian phase).


True poetry.
"Time magazine has too much to loose to print the truth, man!"

https://youtu.be/mnl5X5MQKTg
Possibly my favourite Dylan. Much more angry and snarky than whinging, which is my preference.
All right...more Arcade Fire! I really do like their song writing skills....
Despite the lengthy lyrics reproduced here, there is an entire stanza which is missing.
Good God, enough already!  I would have stopped around 40 verses ago. 

Uh, um, ah . . . brilliant.


Only a 9 because I prefer the Before the Flood version. (You never forget your first. And that was the first time I heard a Bob Dylan song and went woah...)
As the first notes appear, the brilliance of this piece is evident. After all these years. Those who despise Dylan must address this song. 
Good song Bob, but way too many verses as usual. Start off enjoying it then kinda just want it to stop...{#Stop}
from a 9 to a 10
MSNBC Legal Unit obtains Trump ethics emails

he's trying to drag us into his hole
 Proclivities wrote:

There was a cover version in the film "Easy Rider" - I think it was by some iteration of The Byrds or maybe just Roger McGuinn on his own.  I haven't seen the movie in years.

 
In the movie, it's a McGuinn solo cover version, accompanied by Gene Parsons on harmonica.

 According to Wiki, Peter Fonda wanted to use the orig. version but he ultimately couldn't get the rights to it.
 treatment_bound wrote:


Bad things happen when you listen to this song:
Related image



 
Amen to that brother.....................
The first rapping, Nobel Prize winner.   
The first rapper?
 baylees wrote:
has this song ever been covered?

 
There was a cover version in the film "Easy Rider" - I think it was by some iteration of The Byrds or maybe just Roger McGuinn on his own.  I haven't seen the movie in years.


Bad things happen when you listen to this song:
Related image


Johnny's in the basement mixing up the medicine, but it's alright ma, I'm only bleeding...