Bob Dylan’s Tempest: Stream + 10 Best Lyrics

September 5, 2012

Bob Dylan Tempest Lyrics“Shakespeare’s last play was called The Tempest,” Bob Dylan said recently, responding to talk that the iconic songwriter’s 35th LP is meant to be a swan song. “It wasn’t called just plain Tempest. The name of my record is just plain Tempest. It’s two different titles.” While that clever quip might keep us on the fence about any plans he has for closing out the oeuvre amid the 50th anniversary of his self-titled debut, the new set itself makes a much more cryptic case for it being a triumphant curtain call. Rife with bloody imagery and persistence in the face of ill fate, the lyrics contain plenty of foreboding hooks to hang that hat on. And yet — from its Titanic-themed title track to a declaration that “I ain’t dead yet, my bell still rings” in “Early Roman Kings” — Tempest finds Dylan fired up to fight on with little sign he’ll be resigning his post as the poet laureate of rock anytime soon. This is great news, given that it contains moments on par with some of his best work. “Tin Angel,” “Pay in Blood,” and “Narrow Way,” in particular, are lyrical feasts — the latter offering a repeated couplet that wouldn’t be far from home on Blood on the Tracks.

As the album has been spinning here today, I’ve noted standout lyrics along the way below. Stream Tempest in full (and find a few of your own favorite lines) via iTunes here.

“Tin Angel”

Silly boy, you think me a saint
I listen no more to your words of complaint
You’ve given me nothing but the sweetest lies
Now hold your tongue and feed your eyes

…another verse from “Tin Angel”…

“Hear this,” she said with angry breath
“You too shall meet the Lord of Death.
It was I who brought your soul to life.”
Then she raised her robe and she drew out a knife

“Long and Wasted Years”

Last night I heard you talking in your sleep
Saying things you shouldn’t say
Oh baby, you just might have to go to jail someday

“Pay in Blood”

This is how I’ll spend my days
I came to bury, not to praise
I’ll drink my fill and sleep alone
I’ll pay in blood, but not my own

“Narrow Way”

This is hard country to stay alive in
Blades are everywhere and they’re breaking my skin
I’m armed to the hilt and I’m struggling hard
You won’t get out of here unscarred
It’s a long road, it’s a long and narrow way
If I can’t work up to you, you’ll surely have to work down to me someday

…another verse from this one…

I’ve got a heavy stacked woman with a smile on her face
And she has crowned my soul with grace
I’m still hurting from an arrow that pierced my chest
I’m gonna have to take my head and bury it between your breasts
It’s a long road, it’s a long and narrow way
If I can’t work up to you, you’ll surely have to work down to me someday

“Scarlet Town”

If love is a sin, then beauty is a crime
All things are beautiful in their time

“Roll On John”

I heard the news today, oh boy
They hauled your ship up on the shore
Now the city gonna dock, there is no more joy
They tore the heart right out and cut it to the core

Shine your light, move it on
You burned so bright
Roll on, John

“Soon After Midnight”

My heart is cheerful, it’s never fearful
I’ve been down on the killing floors
I’m in no great hurry
I’m not afraid of your fury
I’ve faced stronger walls than yours

“Early Roman Kings”

If you see me comin’ and you’re standin’ there
Wave your handkerchief in the air
I ain’t dead yet, my bell still rings
I keep my fingers crossed
Like the early Roman kings

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