Study Guide

All Along the Watchtower Summary

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All Along the Watchtower Summary

"All Along the Watchtower" jumps right into a conversation between a joker and a thief, two typical generic Dylan ruffians. The joker is confused and exasperated. He wants to escape from wherever it is they are. He talks like he owns the place and complains that other people – businessmen and farmers in particular – are using his stuff without having any idea of its value. The thief tries to calm the joker down. He says the two of them used to be like other people and think that life was a joke, but they've since arrived at a better understanding of things. The thief cryptically warns that they have to be honest and straightforward because "the hour is getting late."

Here the little dialogue ends and the scene shifts to the watchtower, where the privileged and powerful – the jet set, you might say – are posted on the lookout. They've got everything they need: wine, food, women, servants, protection. Then somewhere far away a wildcat growls, signaling the approach of two riders. We assume they are the joker and the thief. At this point, the wind begins to howl. It's all very spooky, but here the lyrics end. That's the whole song. Well, almost. Cue the harmonica!

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