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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Dylan's images have the same timeless quality as many Old Testament stories. This song mocks the rich, falsely secure "princes" of the world and warns of a Day of Reckoning. The title of the song a...

Form and Meter

The lyrics of "All Along the Watchtower" are written in rhyming couplets. The rhymes are simple (thief/relief, fate/late), so they don't sound forced at all. Unlike many song lyrics, which make no...

Speaker

For the first eight verses of the poem, the speaker stays out of our way. He's just a stenographer or court reporter, dutifully keeping track of the conversation between the joker and the thief. He...

Setting

A wide, windswept plain near dusk. Two riders on horseback approach a city with high walls. They ride slowly; they are in no hurry to get back. Meanwhile, inside the city, men in tuxedos, women in...

Sound Check

"All Along the Watchtower" begins with those famous opening chords and a high-pitched harmonica solo, which sounds an old sign creaking on its hinges in the breeze. Like all the songs on John Wesle...

What's Up With the Title?

"Watchtower" is the key word in our song's title, and it has several connotations. The most glaring connection is to the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament of the Bible. Isaiah was one of the majo...

Calling Card

One of Dylan's calling cards is displayed prominently in this song: the ability to create an utterly believable setting that does not necessarily have any basis in contemporary or historical fact....

Tough-O-Meter

The language in this song couldn't be more simple, with nary an SAT word in sight. On the other hand, the joker and the thief talk in riddles, like a secret code only they can understand. For examp...

Brain Snacks

Sex Rating

"G." The most graphic part of this song is the description of the servants' "bare feet." In other words, no sex here.

Shout Outs

The title "All Along the Watchtower" refers back to Chapter 21, verses 5-9 from the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament of the Bible.The line "All the women came and went" may refer to T.S. Eliot's...
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