Kim Kizyma
Graphic Designer + Creative Technologist

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SOTD: Dirge

I really got interested in Bob Dylan my sophomore year of high school after a teacher introduced me to him in an English course. We studied some of his music and how poetic it was while being political at the same time and it kind of blew my mind.

I’ve always been a fan of political music and music where artists straight up just speak their mind, so exploring the catalog of Bobby Zimmerman seemed natural to me. Besides the countless hits that most everyone associates with Dylan is another track that is my favorite, Dirge. It’s off his Planet Waves album and I don’t think it’s very popular, but I like the theme of it and think it can resonate with many.

[Verse 1]
I hate myself for loving’ you and the weakness that it showed
You were just a painted face on a trip down Suicide Road

The stage was set, the lights went out all around the old hotel
I hate myself for loving’ you and I’m glad the curtain fell

[Verse 2]
I hate that foolish game we played and the need that was expressed
And the mercy that you showed to me, who ever would have guessed?
I went out on Lower Broadway and I felt that place within
That hollow place where martyrs weep and angels play with sin

[Verse 3]
Heard your songs of freedom and man forever stripped
Acting out his folly while his back is being whipped
Like a slave in orbit, he’s beaten ’till he’s tame
All for a moment’s glory and it’s a dirty, rotten shame

[Verse 4]
There are those who worship loneliness, I’m not one of them
In this age of fiberglass I’m searching for a gem
The crystal ball up on the wall hasn’t shown me nothing yet
I’ve paid the price of solitude, but at least I’m out of debt

[Verse 5]
Can’t recall a useful thing you ever did for me
’Cept pat me on the back one time when I was on my knees
We stared into each other’s eyes ’till one of us would break
No use to apologize, what difference would it make?

[Verse 6]
So sing your praise of progress and of the Doom Machine
The naked truth is still taboo whenever it can be seen
Lady Luck, who shines on me, will tell you where I’m at
I hate myself for loving’ you, but I should get over that

The narrator is lamenting his failing relationship and beating himself up for getting involved with his soon-to-be ex wife. It likely refers to his marriage with Sara Dylan, who was a model when Dylan met her about ten years prior. After all that time and several kids together, Dylan was dealing with feelings of betrayal, regret and self loathing. The divorce with Sara became official in 1977.