"Dear Landlord" as written by and Bob Dylan....
Dear landlord
Please don't put a price on my soul
My burden is heavy
My dreams are beyond control
When that steamboat whistle blows
I'm gonna give you all I got to give
And I do hope you receive it well
Dependin' on the way you feel that you live

Dear landlord
Please heed these words that I speak
I know you've suffered much
But in this you are not so unique
All of us, at times, we might work too hard
To have it too fast and too much
And anyone can fill his life up with things
He can see but he just cannot touch

Dear landlord
Please don't dismiss my case
I'm not about to argue
I'm not about to move to no other place
Now, each of us has his own special gift
And you know this was meant to be true
And if you don't underestimate me
I won't underestimate you


Lyrics submitted by Philadelphia Eagles

"Dear Landlord" as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © BOB DYLAN MUSIC OBO DWARF MUSIC

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9 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI've always wondered why this song is not that famous. It's one of my all-time favourites, basically because Dylan is always very complicated and hard to understand, but this time he writes a song wich is very easy to read through. The landlord is, of course, God. So he is kind of praying, but in his own way - one on one, putting himself at the same level. Still he seems on his knees. A very tender, touching song.
    cavernon February 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love the Janis Joplin version of this. More upbeat.
    HibbingismyHolyLandon January 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJohn Wesley Harding is an amazing album, the songs have a mysterious quality to them and the whole concept of the album is so different from many of Dylan's works.

    As Cavern said, this song should be more famous. The lyrics are so simple, but have as much meaning as other, more complicated Dylan songs. I also think this song has a lot to do with his near fatal motorcycle accident; it seems as if he's begging for his life...

    Dear landlord
    Please don't dismiss my case
    I'm not about to argue
    I'm not about to move to no other place
    Now, each of us has his own special gift
    And you know this was meant to be true
    And if you don't underestimate me
    I won't underestimate you.
    bobdylaniscoolon March 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've changed my position on this song slightly... I read the poem "The Landlady" by Margaret Atwood, which describes the physical self as the landlady. The poem and this song came out at almost the same time, and im not sure whether Dylan was inspired by Atwood, or the other way around.
    I believe Dylan is talking to his physical body rather than god. I think it still revolves around his motorcycle acciddent, and in this context i think the meaning of each line practically jumps of the page.

    Also, if your wondering what makes this song so good/different musically, you should definitely check out this article:
    dylanchords.brokenbricks.com/08_jwh/…
    bobdylaniscoolon August 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've heard the theory that this song is about his manager Albert Grossman
    waldo0788on February 12, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWas just listening to this song again in my car...
    Most of the best Dylan material has multiple meanings. Of course no one would seriously argue that Dylan was really writing about some guy from whom he rented an apartment. Beyond the literal relationship of landlord and tenant, I think the song can be interpreted on multiple metaphorical levels, moving from the autobiographical (Dylan expressing his view of himself as a recording artist) to the societal (humans and their relationship to God/religion) to the universal (any general relationship to an authority figure).
    So who is the Landlord? While God certainly fits this, I honestly find the tone of the song a little less deferential than to be expected, even coming from Dylan. He would come across as pretty high on himself talking to God this way, in my opinion. (Although Dylan is often very conceited in his writing, his obvious talent notwithstanding). Following the lyrics, the song most directly seems to be written to an agent or manager. Albert Grossman, as noted previously, is a good guess.
    bcostel1on September 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentp.s. just read bobdylaniscool's comment above--what a great insight! Viewing the conversation with God in that context makes more sense. However, Dylan's conceits remain, as do the song's multiple meanings.
    bcostel1on September 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs an older (if not more 'mature') Dylan admirer, I remember the album from when it first came out, and I have always thought this is one of Dylan's greatest songs. But what is it 'about'? More specifically, who is the 'landlord'? My own first theory (like some of the comments here) was that - in a broad sense - the song was religious, and that the 'landlord' is God. This fits the first verse quite well: 'when that steamboat whistle blows' is when Dylan comes to judgement, and the verse is a plea not to judge him too harshly. But the more I thought about it the less well this theory fits the text. Especially the lines:

    "I know you've suffered much
    But in this you are not so unique
    All of us, at times we might work too hard
    To have it too fast and too much
    And anyone can fill his life up
    With things he can see but he just cannot touch."

    These are not words that can easily be applied to God! The first line might of course be applied to the suffering Jesus (though it is awkward that Dylan was not, so far as I recall, a Christian at that time), but the remainder does not fit the interpretation at all.

    My second theory was that the 'landlord' is primarily the listener him or herself - in other words the public to whom Dylan addresses himself, and especially those who hung on his every word at that time. I still think that this is the most convincing single interpretation. But I would no longer be confident that everything written by Dylan has to have some consistent, single meaning. There is room for deliberate ambiguity, and we should also accept that Dylan sometimes just used enigmatic, oracular phrases that sound good but don't stand up to close analysis.

    The one thing I am fairly sure of is that it has nothing to do with his manager. At least, I hope not, because that would reduce it to triviality, and I don't think it is trivial.
    DavidBon January 07, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThe Landlord is, quite simply, the Body, the limiting housing for the mind and soul, with all its material needs and demands. He reconises his likitations and responsibilities, but still wants inner inssptiation. This is why he pleads that the body and soul repsect each other's existence and needs.
    Equinason April 01, 2013   Link

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