Lyrics Roundtable 2: Like a Rolling Stone

LolicatLolicat Road Warrior
edited March 2009 in History of Rock
Well, I beleive it was said to start another roundtable a long time ago, so I figured I'd choose a specific song since the other thread sort of faltered. This time around we've got some Dylan, specifically Like a Rolling Stone, although to make sense of the song, we might like to pay attention to some other songs written during this period, the lyrics to one of which I have provided as well.

Like A Rolling Stone

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People'd 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.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
And now you find out you're gonna have to get used to it
You said you'd never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He's not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And ask him do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain't no good
You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain't it hard when you discover that
He really wasn't where it's at
After he took from you everything he could steal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They're drinkin', thinkin' that they got it made
Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
But you'd better lift your diamond ring, you'd better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You're invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?


Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

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

Well, you look so pretty in it
Honey, can I jump on it sometime?
Yes, I just wanna see
If it's really that expensive kind
You know it balances on your head
Just like a mattress balances
On a bottle of wine
Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, if you wanna see the sun rise
Honey, I know where
We'll go out and see it sometime
We'll both just sit there and stare
Me with my belt
Wrapped around my head
And you just sittin' there
In your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, I asked the doctor if I could see you
It's bad for your health, he said
Yes, I disobeyed his orders
I came to see you
But I found him there instead
You know, I don't mind him cheatin' on me
But I sure wish he'd take that off his head
Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, I see you got a new boyfriend
You know, I never seen him before
Well, I saw him
Makin' love to you
You forgot to close the garage door
You might think he loves you for your money
But I know what he really loves you for
It's your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Comments

  • Soror_YZBLSoror_YZBL Road Warrior
    edited March 2009
    Ostensibly, it's about a debutante who's down on her luck, but it can be reinterpreted many different ways. Hell, it could be Dylan himself. LARS came out around the time he stopped swinging with the folk circles and was finding his own identity - to the chagrin of his friends and fans. He sums up the whole song in the last verse - When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose, and in many ways that was Dylan's middle finger to the people who put him on a pedestal as the second coming of Woody Guthrie (again - himself included). Dylan's a complex person, and his lyrics only make him more complex.
  • LolicatLolicat Road Warrior
    edited March 2009
    Soror_YZBL;2087479 said:
    Ostensibly, it's about a debutante who's down on her luck, but it can be reinterpreted many different ways. Hell, it could be Dylan himself. LARS came out around the time he stopped swinging with the folk circles and was finding his own identity - to the chagrin of his friends and fans. He sums up the whole song in the last verse - When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose, and in many ways that was Dylan's middle finger to the people who put him on a pedestal as the second coming of Woody Guthrie (again - himself included). Dylan's a complex person, and his lyrics only make him more complex.
    Interesting, but in the contemporary cultural context, was the debutante not someone rumoured to be close to Dylan? Many have put across the argument that many of his songs are about women he was involved with, and these two particularly are associated (along with others from these two albums) with his alleged entanglement with Edie Sedgewick. Whether or not this is true has never been confirmed, but Sedgewick herself claimed to ahve become pregnant by Dylan, although this might have been due to her losing a child around the time that he was involved in his motorcycle accident, her subsequent mental breakdown somehow connecting the two events in her head.

    Dylan is a complex person, though, I think that's one of the few facts we can confirm. The best reading of his life I've seen is probably in I'm Not There, where he is presented as many different people, because the seperate facets of his personality are impossible to correlate.
  • Soror_YZBLSoror_YZBL Road Warrior
    edited March 2009
    Lolicat;2087513 said:
    Interesting, but in the contemporary cultural context, was the debutante not someone rumoured to be close to Dylan? Many have put across the argument that many of his songs are about women he was involved with, and these two particularly are associated (along with others from these two albums) with his alleged entanglement with Edie Sedgewick. Whether or not this is true has never been confirmed, but Sedgewick herself claimed to ahve become pregnant by Dylan, although this might have been due to her losing a child around the time that he was involved in his motorcycle accident, her subsequent mental breakdown somehow connecting the two events in her head.
    And "You're so vain" is about warren beatty. :) As I said, there are many different interpretations you could apply to pretty much any Dylan song. Although he's a folkie and as such a "voice of the people", the primary person he wrote about was himself. It's what made him different from Arlo, Joan, PP&M, Donovan and the rest. The only other person from that era that wrote with the same poignancy was Eric Anderson, but he didn't have nearly the way with words that Mr Z had.

    Dylan is a complex person, though, I think that's one of the few facts we can confirm. The best reading of his life I've seen is probably in I'm Not There, where he is presented as many different people, because the seperate facets of his personality are impossible to correlate.
    I've actually not seen it yet, I really need to sit and watch this movie sometime soon.
  • LolicatLolicat Road Warrior
    edited March 2009
    Soror_YZBL;2087567 said:
    And "You're so vain" is about warren beatty. :) As I said, there are many different interpretations you could apply to pretty much any Dylan song. Although he's a folkie and as such a "voice of the people", the primary person he wrote about was himself. It's what made him different from Arlo, Joan, PP&M, Donovan and the rest. The only other person from that era that wrote with the same poignancy was Eric Anderson, but he didn't have nearly the way with words that Mr Z had.



    I've actually not seen it yet, I really need to sit and watch this movie sometime soon.
    Joan was great, yea, but she was definately better at interpreting other's music rather than writing her own. Dylan was just braver musically and lyrically, although even though he wrote about himself, I don't know that we can call him confessional, as he is rather obscurist, especially when he went electric and the lyrics because a lot more surreal.

    I really recommend the movie and the soundtrack.
  • AxlVanHagarAxlVanHagar Road Warrior
    edited March 2009
    Soror_YZBL;2087567 said:



    I've actually not seen it yet, I really need to sit and watch this movie sometime soon.
    Indeed. I watched it for the first time not too long ago and it was great. Everyone was excellent with what they did with their interpertation but Cate Blanchett, wow! Stunning performance.
  • LolicatLolicat Road Warrior
    edited March 2009
    AxlVanHagar;2087599 said:
    Indeed. I watched it for the first time not too long ago and it was great. Everyone was excellent with what they did with their interpertation but Cate Blanchett, wow! Stunning performance.
    Everyone raved about Blanchett's performance, yes, but I was particularly impressed by Richard Gere's segments. Blanchett's were more exciting in how they were edited, but I adored the story of Gere's segments, and the art direction.
  • classicrockdudeclassicrockdude Headliner
    edited March 2009
    you never know with Dylan.
  • AxlVanHagarAxlVanHagar Road Warrior
    edited March 2009
    Lolicat;2087635 said:
    Everyone raved about Blanchett's performance, yes, but I was particularly impressed by Richard Gere's segments. Blanchett's were more exciting in how they were edited, but I adored the story of Gere's segments, and the art direction.

    Agreed, other than Blanchett it was Gere and Bale that were the stand outs for me. I'll also second your comment on the art direction of the Gere segment. That whole bit left me wanting more of it.
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