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All Along the Watchtower

All Along the Watchtower


by Bob Dylan

All Along the Watchtower Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Dylan has said that "All Along the Watchtower" is like a ballad (a song with a story) told in reverse. What does he mean by that, and what is the effect of this approach when you hear the song?
  2. How would you describe the setting of the song? Do you think it takes place in modern times, Biblical times, the Old West, or someplace else entirely?
  3. The thief tells the joker that although they used to believe that life was a joke, they have since passed through that phase. What do you think it means to consider life to be a joke, and is it a bad thing? Do the people in the watchtower think life is a joke?
  4. Why are the two main characters a joker and a thief if they don't live up to these roles in any way? The thief actually seems pretty wise when he tries to comfort his friend, and the joker takes life too seriously. What's the point of mentioning their "occupations" at all?
  5. What is the joker so upset about at the beginning of the poem? Does he have a right to be so possessive about the wine and earth that people are using?

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