Bob Dylan quotes from the 60’s

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This is the first post with Bob Dylan quotes from the 60’s. The post will be updated many times in the future. There will also, off course, follow posts with quotes from the 70’s, 80’s etc…

UPDATE – other posts:

These quotes are collected from song lyrics & interviews. It’s not only “great” quotes we’ve collected, but also important quotes & funny quotes.

Quotes collected from song lyrics are tried to be kept brief….  it would often be tempting to quote whole songs. Also we’ll try to limit ourselves to max 3 quotes from the same song.

Some songs are sorted under the year they were released (on record), other’s are sorted under the year they were obviously written/recorded.

Please comment/send us input, but we don’t like quotes without a source…

bob-dylan-studion 1961

1961

  • New York Times said it was the coldest winter in seventeen years
    I didn’t feel so cold then
    ~Talkin’ New York
  • 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
    ~Song to Woody
    ———————————————
  • Yeah, well, I was with a carnival when I was about thirteen and I used to travel with a carnival – all kinds of shows.
    [Where] All around the Midwest. Uh, Gallup, New Mexico, then to Texas, and then… Lived in Gallup, New Mexico and…
    ~to Billy James, October 1961
  • I traveled with the carnival when I was about thirteen years old.
    All the way up to I was nineteen. Every year, off and on, I joined different carnivals.
    ~Oscar Brand Radio Show, 29 October 1961 (aired November 4)

bob dylan 1962

1962

  • How many roads must a man walk down
    Before you call him a man?
    ~Blowin’ In The Wind
  • Well, I wus sittin’ home alone an’ started to sweat
    Figured they wus in my T.V. set
    Peeked behind the picture frame
    Got a shock from my feet, hittin’ right up in the brain
    Them Reds caused it!
    I know they did . . . them hard-core ones
    ~Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues
  • There’s beauty in the silver, singin’ river
    There’s beauty in the sunrise in the sky
    But none of these and nothing else can touch the beauty
    That I remember in my true love’s eyes
    ~Tomorrow is A Long Time

———————

  • Yeah, but I really don’t think to myself as, a you know, a folk singer
    ~to Cynthia Gooding, WBAI FM Radio, 11 March 1962
  • [about – “Ballad of Emmett Till”] I stole the melody from Len Chandler. An’ he’s a funny guy. He’s a, he’s a folk singer guy. He uses a lot of funny chords you know when he plays and he’s always getting to, want me, to use some of these chords, you know, trying to teach me new chords all the time. Well, he played me this one. Said don’t those chords sound nice? An’ I said they sure do, an’ so I stole it, stole the whole thing.
    ~to Cynthia Gooding, WBAI FM Radio, 11 March 1962
  • [on songwriting] The song was there before me, before I came along. I just sorta came down and I sorta took it down with a pencil that it was all there before I came around. That’s how I feel about it.
    ~to Pete Seeger, Broadside Show, WBAI-FM Radio, May 1962
  • Maybe I was happy when I was little or I was unhappy, a million other kids were the same way. What difference does it make?
    ~Edwin Miller, September 1962
  • I just played guitar and harmonica.. and sang those songs and that was it. He [John Hammond] asked me if I wanted to sing any of them over again but I said no. I can’t see myself singing the same song twice in a row. That’s terrible.
    ~Edwin Miller, September 1962

Dylan_roof_1963

1963

  • “I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”
    ~Talkin’ World War III Blues
  • Well, 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
    ~Girl From The North Country
  • 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
    ~Masters of War
  • Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
    Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
    I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
    I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
    I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
    I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
    I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
    And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
    And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
    ~A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
  • Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
    Bury the rag deep in your face
    For now’s the time for your tears
    ~The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
  • Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’
    ~The Times They Are A-Changin’
  • Come mothers and fathers
    Throughout the land
    And don’t criticize
    What you can’t understand
    ~The Times They Are A-Changin’

————

  • Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can’t sing, I call a poem. Anything I can’t sing or anything that’s too long to be a poem, I call a novel.
    ~Nat Hentoff quoting Dylan, jacket notes Freewheeling Dylan
  • It’s not atomic rain, it’s just a hard rain, it’s not atomic rain, no. It’s not the fall-out rain….. I just mean some sort of end that’s just gotta happen, y’know.
    ~Studs Terkel Interview, 26 April 1963
  • “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.”
    ~Sidney Fields Interview, Aug 1963

bob dylan 1964

1964

  • Ramona
    Come closer
    Shut softly your watery eyes
    ~To Ramona
  • Go ’way from my window
    Leave at your own chosen speed
    I’m not the one you want, babe
    I’m not the one you need
    ~It Ain’t Me Babe
  • Ah, but I was so much older then
    I’m younger than that now
    ~My Back Pages
  • 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
    ~Chimes of Freedom




  • “It’s hard being free in a song – getting it all in. Songs are so confining. Woody Guthrie told me once that songs don’t have to do anything like that. But it’s not true. A song has to have some kind of form to fit into the music. You can bend the words and the meter, but it still has to fit somehow. I’ve been getting freer in the songs I write, but I still feel confined. That’s why I write a lot of poetry – if that’s the word. Poetry can make it’s own form.”
    ~Nat Hentoff Interview, June 1964

bob dylan manchester 1965

1965

  • That he not busy being born is busy dying
    ~It’s Alright, Ma (I’m only bleeding)
  • But even the president of the United States
    Sometimes must have to stand naked
    ~It’s Alright, Ma (I’m only bleeding)
  • While money doesn’t talk, it swears
    ~It’s Alright, Ma (I’m only bleeding)
  • Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you
    Forget the dead you’ve left, they will not follow you
    ~It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
  • Strike another match, go start anew
    And it’s all over now, Baby Blue
    ~It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
  • You don’t need a weatherman
    To know which way the wind blows
    ~Subterranean Homesick Blues
  • 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
    ~Like A Rolling Stone
  • How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be without a home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?
    ~Like A Rolling Stone
  • 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
    ~Like A Rolling Stone
  • Because something is happening here
    But you don’t know what it is
    Do you, Mister Jones?
    ~Ballad of A Thin Man
  • You’ve been with the professors
    And they’ve all liked your looks
    With great lawyers you have
    Discussed lepers and crooks
    You’ve been through all of
    F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books
    You’re very well read
    It’s well known
    ~Ballad of A Thin Man
  • I started out on burgundy
    But soon hit the harder stuff
    Everybody said they’d stand behind me
    When the game got rough
    But the joke was on me
    There was nobody even there to call my bluff
    I’m going back to New York City
    I do believe I’ve had enough
    ~Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues

——————–

  • “A song is anything that can walk by itself, I am called a songwriter. A poem is a naked person, some people say that I am a poet”.
    ~Jacket notes Subterranean Homesick Blues
  • All I can do is be me – whoever that is
    ~to Paul J Robbins, 22 March 1965
  • I left where I’m from because there’s nothing there. I come from Minnesota, there was nothing there. I’m not going to fake it and say I went out to see the world.
    ~to Paul J Robbins, 26 March 1965
  • Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb
    ~Press Conference, London 26 April 1965
  • The big difference is that the songs I was writing last year, songs like Ballad in Plain D, they were what I call one-dimensional songs, but my new songs I’m trying to make more three-dimensional, you know, there’s more symbolism, they’re written on more than one level.
    ~Jenny De Yong And Peter Roche Interview, 30 April 1965
  • That’s because they ask the wrong questions, like, ‘What did you have for breakfast’, ‘What’s your favourite colour’, stuff like that. Newspaper reporters, man, they’re just hung-up writers, frustrated novelists, they don’t hurt me none by putting fancy labels on me. They got all these preconceived ideas about me, so I just play up to them.
    ~Jenny De Yong And Peter Roche Interview, 30 April 1965
  • Chaos is a friend of mine. It’s like I accept him, does he accept me?
    ~Nora Ephron & Susan Edmiston Interview, Late summer 1965
  • [about – The Times They Are A-Changin’] I can’t really say that adults don’t understand young people anymore than you can say big fishes don’t understand little fishes. I didn’t mean it as a statement, truth, or anything like that. It’s a feeling – you know – just a feeling.
    ~Mary Merrifield Interview, Nov 1965
  • Oh, I think of myself more as a song and dance man, y’know
    ~Press Conference, San Francisco 3 December 1965
  • Yeah, that was at Newport. Well, I did this very crazy thing. So, you know, I didn’t really know what was going to happen, but they certainly booed, I’ll tell you that.
    ~Press Conference, San Francisco 3 December 1965

bob dylan 1966

1966

  • Lights flicker from the opposite loft
    In this room the heat pipes just cough
    The country music station plays soft
    But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off
    Just Louise and her lover so entwined
    And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind
    ~Visions of Johanna
  • But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
    You can tell by the way she smiles
    ~Visions of Johanna
  • The ghost of ’lectricity howls in the bones of her face
    Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place
    ~Visions of Johanna
  • Grandpa died last week
    And now he’s buried in the rocks
    But everybody still talks about
    How badly they were shocked
    But me, I expected it to happen
    I knew he’d lost control
    When he built a fire on Main Street
    And shot it full of holes
    Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
    To be stuck inside of Mobile
    With the Memphis blues again
    ~Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
  • But to live outside the law, you must be honest
    ~Absolutely Sweet Mary
  • With your mercury mouth in the missionary times
    And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes
    And your silver cross, and your voice like chimes
    Oh, who among them do they think could bury you?
    ~Sad-Eyed Lady of The Lowlands

—————

  • I found myself writing this song, this story, this long piece of vomit about twenty pages long, and out of it I took Like A Rolling Stone and made it as a single. And I’d never written anything like that before and it suddenly came to me that that was what I should do, you know. I mean, nobody had ever done that before.
    ~Martin Bronstein Interview, 20 Feb 1966
  • It’s very tiring having other people tell you how much they dig you if you yourself don’t dig you. It’s also very deadly entertainment-wise.
    ~Nat Hentoff (The Playboy) Interview, March 1966
  • There were a lot of people there who were very pleased that I got booed. I saw them afterward. I do resent somewhat, though, that everybody that booed said they did it because they were old fans.
    ~Nat Hentoff (The Playboy) Interview, March 1966
  • I wouldn’t advise anybody to use drugs – certainly not the hard drugs. Drugs are medicine. But opium and hash and pot – now, those things aren’t drugs. They just bend your mind a little. I think everybody’s mind should be bent once in a while.
    ~Nat Hentoff (The Playboy) Interview, March 1966
  • I mean everybody has done it, you know, ‘cos all you heard was rock n’ roll and country and western and rhythm and blues music. Now, now at a certain time it’s just the whole field got taken over into, into, into some milk, you know – into Frankie Avalon, Fabian and, you know, this kind of thing. …. Now it’s different again, because of the English thing. The English thing… what the English thing did was, they just proved that you could make money,
    you now, at playing, you know, the same old kind of music that you used to play, and that’s the truth. You know that’s not a lie. It’s not a come-on or anything. But, uh, you know the English people can’t play rock n’ roll music.
    ~Klas Burling Interview, 28 April 1966

bd1967

1967

  • “There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief
    “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief
    Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
    None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”
    ~All Along The Watchtower
  • Well, that mockingbird’s gonna sail away
    We’re gonna forget it
    That big, fat moon is gonna shine like a spoon
    But we’re gonna let it
    You won’t regret it
    ~I’ll Be You’re Baby Tonight

——————————-

  • “What I’ve been doin’ mostly is seein’ only a few close friends, readin’ little ‘bout the outside world. Porin’ over books by people you never heard of. Thinkin’ about where I’m goin’ and why am I runnin’ and am I mixed up too much and what am I knowin’ and what am I givin’ and what am I takin’. And mainly what I’ve been doin’ is workin’ on gettin’ better and makin’ better music, which is what my life is all about.”
    ~Michael Iachetta Interview, 7 May 1967

1968

  • [on songwriting] Well once you set it up in your mind, you don’t have to think about it any more. If it wants to come, it will come.
    ~To John Cohen, June/July 1968

bob dylan 1969

1969

  • Once I had mountains in the palm of my hand
    And rivers that ran through ev’ry day
    I must have been mad
    I never knew what I had
    Until I threw it all away
    ~I Threw It All Away

————————–

  • You know… That’s really the way to do a recording – in a peaceful, relaxed setting – in somebody’s basement. With the windows open… And a dog lying on the floor.
    ~The Rolling Stone Interview, 29 Nov 1969
  • The first time I went into the studio I had, I think, four songs. I pulled that instrumental one out… I needed some songs with an instrumental… Then Johnny [Cash] came in and did a song with me. Then I wrote one in the motel… Then pretty soon the whole album started fillin’ in together and we had an album. I mean, we didn’t go down with that in mind.
    ~The Rolling Stone Interview, 29 Nov 1969

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9 thoughts on “Bob Dylan quotes from the 60’s”

  1. This is another wonderful addition to your seemingly endless information about all thing Dylan. I have
    enjoyed reading these quotes. They bring back many memories. Also, I can appreciate and find a kind
    Of hum our that was missing when I first heard many of them. It was all so wonderful to be young and
    have something that you felt was just yours. Not your parents . Something new that we were just beginning to understand! Thank you for this work which brings me so much joy! Reviving many of my own Back Pages….excellent!

  2. The English can’t play Rock ‘n Roll?! Zimmy must have been in a foul mood that day. Then again, he’s probably always in a foul mood when he has to speak to Mr. Jones!

    1967 seems short on quotes. I would include this one:

    take good care of your memories said nick
    for you can not relive them
    and remember when you’re
    out there trying to heal the sick
    that you must always
    first forgive them

    Open The Door Homer

  3. “Hey, don’t tell me not to PUSH TOO HARD, man! I’m worried about getting SHOT!!!” ~To a road manager, before a concert on the European tour, when he was told there had been a bomb threat called in to the theatre~

  4. Early Dylan LPs almost always had quotable quotes, not only in the song-lyrics, but also jacket notes ( more value for money ). His recent LPs have strong packaging, but often left blank or “wasted” otherwise. The booklets in the box-editions are fairly OK, but hardly Dylan’s writing. Even so, the Shakespeare of our times is indeed a great treasure of quotable insights. Rather challenging to undertake a task as you have, good luck and lotsa fun !

    “A song is anything that can walk by itself, I am called a songwriter. A poem is a naked person, some people say that I am a poet”. ( Jacket notes Subterranean Homesick Blues )

    “Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can’t sing, I call a poem. Anything I can’t sing or anything that’s too long to be a poem, I call a novel. ( Nat Hentoff quoting Dylan, jacket notes Freewheeling Dylan )

    “I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”. ( WW III blues )

    “Yes, I’m a thief of thoughts, not, I pray, a stealer of souls”. ( Linear notes, 11 Outlined Epitaphs, Times They are a-changin’ )

    “Oh, but I was so much younger then, I’m older than that now” ( My back pages )

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