"I Want You" as written by Rick Rubin and James Todd Smith....
The guilty undertaker sighs
The lonesome organ grinder cries
The silver saxophones say I should refuse you
The cracked bells and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn, but it’s
Not that way, I wasn’t born to lose you

I want you
I want you
I want you, so bad
Honey, I want you

The drunken politician leaps
Upon the street where mothers weep
And the saviors who are fast asleep, they wait for you
And I wait for them to interrupt
Me drinkin’ from my broken cup
And ask me to open up the gate for you

I want you
I want you
Yes I want you, so bad
Honey, I want you

How all my fathers, they’ve gone down
True love they’ve been without it
But all their daughters put me down
’Cause I don’t think about it

Well, I return to the Queen of Spades
And talk with my chambermaid
She knows that I’m not afraid to look at her
She is good to me and there’s
Nothing she doesn’t see
She knows where I’d like to be but it doesn’t
Matter

I want you
I want you
Yes I want you, so bad
Honey, I want you

Now your dancing child with his Chinese suit he
Spoke to me, I took his flute
No, I wasn’t very cute to him, was I?
But I did it, because he lied and
Because he took you for a ride
And because time was on his side and
Because I

Want you
I want you
Yes I want you, so bad
Honey, I want you


Lyrics submitted by AbFab

"I Want You" as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

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I Want You song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentOk so this is my interpretation of the song, and feel free to correct or comment on it: this isn't one love story, but an assembly of multiple ones with a different character in each stanza. each stanza describes a unique kind of love, but generally outline all the beauty and longing of love, in ALL of its manuerisms, not just a man for a woman. here is the breakdown

    1st - pretty obvious that it is a person at the funeral of their partner, most likely the spouse. this is given away by the "I wasn't born to lose you" which is the opposite of the common phrase said between lovers "it was like i was born to be with you". All these instruments that would be seen at the lenghty process of burying someone are telling him to let go, but he cant, as they scorn him and he feels turned against the world because his second half is gone. this is an intense longing that actually depresses the speaker, as most love does. so this is a man losing his wife and becoming a widow

    2nd - first two lines signify pretty heavily a soldier that has been sent to a war that has little purpose, or even if it had purpose, is being ran irrationally (a heavy theme of the time), since the politician is drunk (foolish) and is playing w/ the hearts of the soldiers mothers. saviors as in the soldiers (so dylan differentiates between a soldier and the foolish person controlling the soldiers, even if he himself doesn't support soldiers, it is the speaker that does since they long for their sibling/son/any relative) are sleeping, hence dead. the speaker is a relative that is waiting for this soldier to return home, even though he slightly knows this wont happen, and ask him to "open the gate for mom" or something along those lines as she runs to her soldier son. another form of deep longing and love

    3rd - cant quite place in context of the song, something to do w/ men not being able to love in the same manner as women, but its nonetheless still love

    4th - one of the most classic examples of love, as both friendship and passion. a man returning to his "queen of spades" a figure that is heavily iconic of an arranged and loveless marriage or a hoity toity woman that doesn't deserve the man, but he is stuck, probably due to money (ill get into why this is important). so he returns to his chamber maid, someone who is a dear servant and always "good" to him. he describes her as what one thinks of as true love, "not afraid to look at her" means that he isn't afraid to look past her social labels to see who she REALLY is, even if society doesn't condone it. the social acceptance rings in again because she is obviously poor, and he cannot be with her because he, a noble, couldn't be with her. nonetheless she and him both know where he wants to be (deeply with her and not w/ his socalled queen) but it doesn't matter because he is socially stuck w/ someone else, who is implied to be the anithesis of this chambermaid, but he still cannot stop these feelings. like romeo and juliet if juliet was poor and romeo was married

    5th - either aging jealousy or standard jealousy, resulting from an intense longing that like every other instance cannot be satiated. dancing child w/ his chinese suit probably doesnt mean child, but an insult to a woman that is dating someone who is younger and is not of her culture (some can think of this as he therefore is stealing her, but thats not what i get). took his flute > VERY symbolic of how in fables someone will play a flute and it will entrance them, as if he is hypnotizing this woman that he loves. he was mean to him ("not cute") because: he lied to his love, he is taking her on a ride (of emotion, so abuse, and leading her on, his intentions are not founded, and is thus NOT for the true love that he hold) and also once again that time was on his side, he was younger and more active/energetic/spirited etc. (here comes in the jealousy and hate, but it is still founded on good intentions), and once again because he "wants her"

    So this is my interpretation, please comment on it. i pretty much think its about wanting someone so bad it hurts and brings negative emotions, but no matter what you do you cannot have them. what do you guys think? (jeez that took forever to write, and longer to think up!)
    AndrewJGon May 10, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General Commentso cute, Bob pulled it off with out being corny. i think it's because of the first stanza..... and well, all of them, really.
    lost_in_twlighton April 07, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI would like to explore that Dylan the Poet is talking about a larger theme of the 60s sexual revolution. I think the theme is "True Love is dead."
    The guilty undertaker (sexual revolution)signs that True Love is dead.
    The lonesome organ grinder is separated and gets no true love just a coin or two.
    The silver saxophones grease the music of bars and hook up scenes. The church bells and the wedding bells are cracked and the washed out horns are no longer triumphantly proclaimin true love.

    The poet cannot accept it... it's not that way, I wasnt born into the generation in which true love died. I want you.. I want true love.

    Drunken Politician leaps to his suicide in the street. No love for politicians. Mothers weep for children lost to the streets and the revolution. Saviours are sleeping but they would provide True Love. They expect me the poet to open the gate of true love again, but Dylan's cup is broken. He does not have true love and wants it so bad.

    All my father's I feel refers to Dylan's poetical influences. The modernist poets disavow true love and embrace science and disdain the romantic poets. The daughter's of the sexual revolution are putting him down because he is romantically proclaiming that he wants True Love. They put him down because they are free, now from "True Love."

    He moves down the social ladder to the Queen of Spades, maybe a bar or hotel, the chambermaid, the hotel room maid or the waitress. He is not afraid to look at her to see if she still believe in True Love. She understands and agrees about True Love. She knows that he wants True Love but he does not want it with her. The Queen of Spades could be a symbol of death. She wants true love but for him it would be death with the chambermaid. So, it does not matter because she is not part of the sexual revolutionaries.

    Dancing child with His suit could be Cupid or Pan with his Pan flute. He is taking away Cupid's flute because he doesn't want just lust or to temporarily be in capricious love.
    He took away the flute and wasn't that cute to him.

    He took away the lust flute and wants True Love. He wants the real thing.

    This is just my humble opinion of what this poem is about.
    I dont claim to have anything other than my own point of view about this poem.
    I love this poem and most everything Bob Dylan wrote.

    I think of him as a "Great" poet.
    Paul
    PDShimelon April 26, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe song means something like this to me:

    The girl he loves is gone, maybe she is death or maybe she refuse the singer.

    The world is spoiled, things are happening that don’t happen in a normal world. That’s why you’re not with me now. (first 2 couplets) Because in a normal world, we would be together, we are meant to be together.

    Nobody learnt me how to love, everything I did, I did it wrong to you. (3rd couplet)

    So I start gambling, I start drinking because I don’t know what to do. (4rd couplet)

    I hurt the people/things you like, I’m sorry, but I do it because they toke the time of yours that was meant to spend with me. It’s not fair.

    Don’t you understand, everything I did, I did it for you, I’m so desperate for you.
    e4xon March 27, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBob Dylan is honestly what gets me through the day. I'm going through sort of those dumb and annoying situations involving a boy, and I needed a song to relate to. I started listening to "I Want You" and my day just made a lot more sense. I think everyone could find their lives in Bob Dylan's music if they just listened.
    GypsyOfTheLowlandson January 05, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commentall wrong.
    it's about edie sedgwick (he also wrote leopard-skin pill-box hat and like a rolling stone about her(?) which is kinda debated) and (supposedly) her involvement with warhol and his "scene"

    "now your dancing child with his Chinese suit
    He spoke to me, I took his flute
    No, I wasn't very cute to him, was I?
    But I did it, though, because he lied
    Because he took you for a ride
    And because time was on his side
    And because I
    Want you"
    ^ is meant to be about him meeting andy.
    edie wanted him to, but he was hesitant because he knew he wouldn't be liked by andy and edies other friends, but he went anyway although he didnt feign being someone he wasnt to win them over ..

    "no, i wasn't very cute to him, was i?"

    absolutely gorgeous song=]
    AladdinInsaneon July 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDoubtful. They don't seem to have anything in common beyond a title (and sentiment) and being born in the same decade by artists whose name begins with B . . . HEY now . . . maybe if you play Abbey Road backwards you get the words "Blonde on Blonde" or something . . .
    goodmorningmisterbenon April 04, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMan, I love this song. And the way it just rattles off with that snare... It's perfect!
    HibbingismyHolyLandon October 22, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI like the way e4x interprets it. I think this song is a good example of Dylan's style. If I was trying to explain Bob Dylan to someone who had never heard of him, I'd include this song (as well as at least half a dozen others, becuase he couldn't just make it easy and stick to one style--not that I would have wanted him to).

    All of the people and images--the guilty undertaker, the dancing child, the cracked bells, the drunken politician-- what is all that about? They show up for a line or two, or even just half a line, and then that's it. You don't hear of them again. But in spite of their short appearances, they still somehow manage to add a lot to the song. Dylan says a lot about these characters in just a couple of words. But he also leaves so much out that you can't help but wonder. There's next to no facts about them, but you intuitively know all about them and what they're like. Bob Dylan is a mind f***. And that's just one more reason why he's so great.
    Nick the Bastardon July 15, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation
    Here is my spin:

    A man, a lover lost his wife and refuses the necessary steps to deal with it. True love was lost.

    The 'undertaker' sees this and is 'guilty' how he himself reacts to the inevitable monochromatic world of death.

    'The lonesome organ grinder' is the lover who realizes that he can no longer entertain and delight his lover and has nothing to offer but tears.

    The 'silver saxophnes' are the instruments of lovers, and say that you need to move on and stop grieving, yet the lover thought that his love for her was eternal so anything afterward would be 'cracked bells', signifying marriage and any celebration would be nothing more than the sound of 'washed out horns' as if to mock his true love that 'blow into my face with scorn' because it wasn't supposed to be like this.

    He can't reconcile that fact that she is now gone because, 'But it's not that way, I wasn't born to lose you.' And so yearns, 'I want you, I want you, honey I want you... so bad'.

    I'll keep working on the next stanzas.

    ibdman

    ibdmanon September 10, 2011   Link

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