"Dirge" as written by and Bob Dylan Dylan Bob....
I hate myself for lovin' you and the weakness that it showed
You were just a painted face on a trip down Suicide Road.
The stage was set, the lights went out all around the old hotel,
I hate myself for lovin' you and I'm glad the curtain fell.

I hate that foolish game we played and the need that was expressed
And the mercy that you showed to me, who ever would have guessed?
I went out on Lower Broadway and I felt that place within,
That hollow place where martyrs weep and angels play with sin.

Heard your songs of freedom and man forever stripped,
Acting out his folly while his back is being whipped.
Like a slave in orbit, he's beaten 'til he's tame,
All for a moment's glory and it's a dirty, rotten shame.

There are those who worship loneliness, I'm not one of them,
In this age of fiberglass I'm searching for a gem.
The crystal ball up on the wall hasn't shown me nothing yet,
I've paid the price of solitude, but at last I'm out of debt.

Can't recall a useful thing you ever did for me
'Cept pat me on the back one time when I was on my knees.
We stared into each other's eyes 'til one of us would break,
No use to apologize, what diff'rence would it make?

So sing your praise of progress and of the Doom Machine,
The naked truth is still taboo whenever it can be seen.
Lady Luck, who shines on me, will tell you where I'm at,
I hate myself for lovin' you, but I should get over that.


Lyrics submitted by Philadelphia Eagles

"Dirge" as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

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Dirge song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentNo-one has commented on this, but I willl.

    This song is wild - obviously put together quickly, the arrangement is sparse, there's no percussion to speak of, the whole thing sounds really slapped together... but the lyrics & vocal performance is the best that Dylan had done since 'John Wesley Harding'. In some ways, this reminds me of 'She's Your Lover Now'; there's some real bite here... this is more likely about Joan Baez than 'Visions of Johanna' ever was ('Heard your songs of freedom and man forever stripped/Acting out his folly while his back is being whipped' could be a direct ref to the continuing political agendas she pursued, but who knows.

    It may sound like a rehearsal for 'Idiot Wind', but 'Dirge' is too often overlooked.
    elephant_rangeon February 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI know exactly how this feels...


    "I hate myself for loving you and the weakness that it showed..."

    and then, the end...


    "I hate myself for loving you, but I should get over that..."
    edge of the worldon July 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always had a feeling that this song was partly inspired by Dylan's relationship with his fans. When he (quickly) wrote this, he hadn't been on tour for 7 1/2 years after the chaotic end of the '66 tour, was about to jump in again after a long period out of the public eye. ("I've paid the price of solitude, but at least I'm out of debt") The mixed feelings of performing and being hounded by fanatical fans, journalists and managers looking for the Spokesperson Of The 60s Generation...

    "Heard your songs of freedom and man forever stripped
    Acting out his folly while his back is being whipped
    Like a slave in orbit he's beaten 'til he's tame
    All for a moment's glory and it's a dirty, rotten shame"
    beer goodon July 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmusically this song is second only to Ballad of a Thin Man as far as sonic depth and a sense of awkward negativity. Maybe negativity isn't the right word. but Dylan has a way with music nobody else has. sure he's a great poet, but so are Neil Young and Conor Oberst and Damien Rice and others. but nobody has the ability to create music that goes so perfectly with emotions. i think if he wanted to he could write a song with music so cruel-sounding it could hurt somebody's feelings without even having lyrics. but "Dirge" is just incredible musically. I feel when i hear it like the narrator is psychotic, or coping with serious emotional damage.
    TheThornBirdson January 26, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've often thought the phrase about man, forever stripped, acting out his folly while his back is being whipped, is a perfect succinct summary of the whole of 'Waiting for Godot' and an analysis of the absurdist view of the human condition. Camus' myth of Sisyphus, for example. Brilliant.
    trevormarshallon September 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti don't see how this could be about joan baez... he left her when she still loved him. this sounds like someone who screwed him over.
    jasssson November 05, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI saw on youtube some comments that this is about drug addiction etc.? Of course, it doesn't necessarily have to be about one single thing, but I think this interpretation is the most coherent. There are many obvious examples (suicide road, hollow place within, weakness that it showed) but I think this is the most subtle and most interesting:
    'I can't recall a useful thing you ever did for me
    'Cept pat me on the back one time when I was on my knees'
    morningmorgantownon March 01, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think what beer good said is about right. It's about his ambivalence about fame.
    Fencingon August 27, 2011   Link

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