Well, Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
They were the best of friends
So when Frankie Lee needed money one day
Judas quickly pulled out a roll of ten
And placed them on a footstool
Just above the plotted plain,
Sayin', Take your pick, Frankie Boy
My loss will be your gain

Well, Frankie Lee, he sat right down
And put his fingers to his chin
But with the cold eyes of Judas on him
His head began to spin
Would ya please not stare at me like that, he said
It's just my foolish pride
But sometimes a man must be alone
And this is no place to hide

Well, Judas, he just winked and said
All right, I'll leave you here
But you'd better hurry up and choose
Which of those bills you want
Before they all disappear
I'm gonna start my pickin' right now
Just tell me where you'll be

Judas pointed down the road
And said, eternity
Eternity, said Frankie Lee
With a voice as cold as ice
That's right, said Judas Priest, eternity
Though you might call it 'Paradise

I don't call it anything
Said Frankie Lee with a smile
All right," said Judas Priest
I'll see you after a while

Well, Frankie Lee, he sat back down
Feelin' low and mean
When just then a passing stranger
Burst upon the scene
Saying, are you Frankie Lee, the gambler
Whose father is deceased
Well, if you are
There's a fellow callin' you down the road
And they say his name is Priest

Oh, yes, he is my friend
Said Frankie Lee in fright
I do recall him very well
In fact, he just left my sight
Yes, that's the one,said the stranger
As quiet as a mouse
Well, my message is, he's down the road
Stranded in a house

Well, Frankie Lee, he panicked
He dropped everything and ran
Until he came up to the spot
Where Judas Priest did stand
What kind of house is this,he said
Where I have come to roam
It's not a house,said Judas Priest
It's not a house it's a home

Well, Frankie Lee, he trembled
He soon lost all control
Over everything which he had made
While the mission bells did toll
He just stood there staring
At that big house as bright as any sun
With four and twenty windows
And a woman's face in every one

Well, up the stairs ran Frankie Lee
With a soulful, bounding leap
And, foaming at the mouth
He began to make his midnight creep
For sixteen nights and days he raved
But on the seventeenth he burst
Into the arms of Judas Priest
Which is where he died of thirst

No one tried to say a thing
When they took him out in jest
Except, of course, the little neighbor boy
Who carried him to rest
And he just walked along, alone
With his guilt so well concealed
And muttered underneath his breath
Nothing is revealed

Well, the moral of the story
The moral of this song,
Is simply that one should never be
Where one does not belong.
So when you see your neighbor carryin' somethin'
Help him with his load
And don't go mistaking Paradise
For that home across the road

Lyrics submitted by Philadelphia Eagles, edited by alexhaggis

"The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" as written by Bob Dylan


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The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThe house is a trap. We are to not want for worldly desires. They will trap us.

    You sell your soul for a couple bills, and you've mistaken eternity for the house of pleasures.

    This world is the house of pleasures, but they are quick to fade. They are false. They are attachment to this world.
    Doldrumson June 09, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe heavy metal band "Judas Priest" is named after this song
    PlanetarumVagatioon May 08, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwell frankie lee and judas priset, although being the best of friends seem to be opposites. frankie the gambler, who's father is deceased... Judas, who quickly pulled out a roll of tens and said 'my loss will be your gain'...

    so my real question for this, is what is the house?
    i see it as either a bordello or a church. both could have 4 and 20 women's face in every one (stained glass images vs whores)... perhaps it was the church, and judas died from not drinking the holy water -- but would frankie lee run up the stairs of a church in soulful bounding leaps ? i think not. perhaps he spent all his time getting off he forgot to drink....but why would judas find himself at a bordello ?

    either way, the most important person in this song is the little neighbour boy that carried frankie lee to rest.... why is he guilty? perhaps for writing a song where nothing is revealed ?

    good moral though... and I suppose it reveals everything that need be revealed, we should help the neighbour boy carry frankie lee in jest. i imagine there two houses facing eachother -- both the bordello and church -- neither of them is paradise, but both of which can be considered home.
    tswaterson March 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"With four and twenty windows And a woman's face in ev'ry one."
    I recall a nursery ryme that goes:
    "four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie."
    can this house be the pie and the women are the blackbirds baked into it? If Frankie Lee died of thirst, then he too was "baked" into it. There was also a book written titled: "four and twenty blackbirds" written by someone named "Priest" though I don't know the date it was originally published. Also 24 is considered an unlucky number in Cantonese culture because its pronounication is similar to that of "easy to die". I doubt if this has any real signifigance though. I'm researching this further and will post new facts as I discovery them.
    corporal_cleggon December 03, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI know why the boy is guilty
    "When just then a "little" passing stranger
    Burst upon the scene"

    little isnt in the lyrics but if you listen to recordings on youtube its there youtube.com/…
    the little stranger is the little neighbour boy
    then it goes
    "Except of course, the little neighbor boy
    Who carried him to rest
    And he just walked along alone
    Whit his guilt so well concealed
    And muttered underneath his breath
    "Nothing is revealed"."
    the boys is guilty because he told Frankie to find judas
    stevethehorseon March 16, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI like to rank my favorite Dylan albums, but when I listen to know album I don't know where to put it because I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK HE'S TALKING ABOUT. Is it good? Maybe? I don't know. This is probably the best song on the album? Or is it? I have no idea.
    FootOfPrideon May 04, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't have analysis, I just wanted to remark the lines

    Judas pointed down the road
    And said, "Eternity"
    "Eternity ?" said Frankie Lee
    With a voice as cold as ice
    "That's right", said Judas Priest, "Eternity
    Though you might call it Paradise"
    "I don't call it anything"

    Are truly remarkable in my souls opinion
    KaneAshwoodon June 10, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningFrankie lee is duped into making a deal with (to him) an unrecognizable evil. I believe dylan purposely portrays frankie and judas as good friends in the first couple stanzas in order to drive home the point that those close to you, whom you would least expect, can you lead you into the most evil of deeds. In my opinion the line "It's not a house, its a home," is an overlooked deceptive description of a whore house in which judas priest (dylan) is subliminally telling frankie (or the listener) that the bad habbits taking place at the whore house can become his own. We usually describe other people's "homes" as a "house" and only when speaking of our own house do we actually use the term "home."

    As far as the neighbor boy, I believe he represents youth and innocence. He recognized the true evil that judas is supposed to represent, hence his guilt over frankie's death and hence the reason he assumes the chore of carrying his body.
    shakemybones33on June 27, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell the last verse implies that Dylan wants you to explore the world and not just stay in the same place all the time.

    But all the lyrics before that verse have pretty much nothing to do with that...

    Another Dylan mystery song!

    Still a great song and I love the ironic connotation it has.
    Lwison May 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcrap. judas didn't die of thirst, it was frankie lee.. i wish i could edit that post
    tswaterson March 09, 2006   Link

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