"Sweetheart Like You" as written by and Bob Dylan....
Well the pressure's down, the boss ain't here
He's gone North, for a while
They say that vanity got the best of him
But he sure left here in style
By the way, that's a cute hat
And that smile's so hard to resist
But what's a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?

You know, I once knew a woman who looked like you
She wanted a whole man, not just a half
She used to call me sweet daddy when I was only a child
You kind of remind me of her when you laugh
In order to deal in this game, got to make the queen disappear
It's done with a flick of the wrist
What's a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?

You know a woman like you should be at home
That's where you belong
Taking care for somebody nice
Who don't know how to do you wrong
Just how much abuse will you be able to take?
Well, there's no way to tell by that first kiss
What's a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?

You know you can make a name for yourself
You can hear them tires squeal
You could be known as the most beautiful woman
Who ever crawled across cut glass to make a deal.

You know, news of you has come down the line
Even before ya came in the door
They say in your father's house, there's many a mansions
Each one of them got a fireproof floor
Snap out of it baby, people are jealous of you
They smile to your face, but behind your back they hiss
What's a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?

Got to be an important person to be in here, honey
Got to have done some evil deed
Got to have your own harem when you come in the door
Got to play your harp until your lips bleed.
They say that patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings
Steal a little and they throw you in jail
Steal a lot and they make you king
There's only one step down from here, baby
It's called the land of permanent bliss
What's a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?


Lyrics submitted by caitsith01

"Sweetheart Like You" as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

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Sweetheart Like You song meanings
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25 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentMark Knopfler's guitar riffs in this song make it what it is, a terrific song with great vocals from Bobby D.
    Tmo2199on July 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentmy take is that it's about jesus when he, according to the new testament,
    descended into hell to free the captives there. he's in the form of a woman,
    but to really argue that dylan is singing to a woman just because he says he's
    singing to a woman somewhat misses the point of dylan being dylan. anyway,
    the people trapped in hell (actually, sheol or hades, since those are the old
    testament concepts) are wondering what in the hell (pun intended) jesus is
    doing down there. the boss who went north is satan who, per peter, goes out to venture
    to and fro upon the earth. 'vanity got the best of him' - obvious reference to
    satan. to 'be in here' you got to have 'done some evil deed' ... thus the
    abode of all these people who are questioning why jesus is there. of course, he's
    there to lead everyone free from satan's grip. it's actually a very straightforward,
    easy to understand song... :)
    spudtooleyon October 26, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have heard that this song is about the Statue of Liberty, and looking closely at the lyrics I think this is entirely plausible. By extension, then, the themes in this song are about democracy and freedom and the dream of the American republic.

    A few bits to support this:

    "By the way that's a cute hat/and that smile's so hard to resist" - i.e. the crown on the statue plus her peaceful smile.

    "What's a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?" - what's Liberty doing in the US, which Dylan saw at the time as a place of decay and greed? This song is from the album 'Infidels', in which he sings about the decline of the union, the threat of nuclear war (or gun violence?) and other such themes.

    "Just how much abuse will you be able to take?" - how much corruption and decay can the democratic dream take before it succumbs and fades away?

    "You can be known as the most beautiful woman/who ever crawled across cut glass to make a deal" - democracy/liberty can really achieve something wonderful by fighting through all the troubles and enemies of true freedom, or at least its a possibility.

    "news of you has come down the line" - i.e. people around the world have long sought to implement the dream of an egalitarian society.

    "people are jealous of you/they smile to your face but behind your back they hiss" - there are a lot of people who would like to get rid of the inconvenience of freedom and democracy if they could, but they pretend they like it even while they work against it.

    "Steal a little and they throw you in jail/Steal a lot and they make you king" - typifies Dylan's attitude to US politics in this era.

    Anyway, just my thoughts. Of course, there's clearly a second theme about the protagonist meeting a woman in a bar or similar and falling for her while he thinks about the 'queen' he 'made disappear.'

    Great song, from a highly underrated album.
    caitsith01on November 25, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe staue of liberty does not have a peacefull smile, if anything it lookes sad, see picture: libertyellisplan.org/
    And i think it lookes more like a man than a woman (man in roman clothing)

    The song is, i think, about an infidel (like the album title) who is in a club or something in a middle eastern or south american country and meets a suppressed woman and projects his western view on her.
    Leadbelly Hollandon February 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwell actualy i know what its about! it about jesus. believe it or not. if you remember when dylan came out with his album saved, he was criticized. personally i didn't like the saved album. bob dylan had a huge conversion into the christian religion and came out with that album. after that he decided to hide his meanings in his songs. one of his lines says "you know news of you has come down the line, even before you came in the door" the birth of jesus was fortold before he was born. so this is very relevant. another example would be when Dylan says " how much abuse will you be able to take? Well theres no way to tell by that first kiss" this represents the kiss of judas and jesus's coming crucifiction. He also says " in your fathers house there's many mansions" this is a direct quote from jesus. the sweetheart is jesus. When Dylan says "whats a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?" he's asking why would somthing so pure and perfect as jesus come into the world. Or "dump"
    so there ya go. if you look at allot of his songs from a biblical standpoint. you will see what he is talking about.
    if you have any questions you can contact me at Masonvv2@hotmail.com

    Mason
    Dylan fan
    and christian
    Masonvvon July 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBoth views are correct. Dylan often writes about more than one thing and the meaning you take from the song will most likely be the one that you associate with most personally. The view that the song is about liberty/freedom and the corruption in american politics is correct, equally, the sweetheart probably does represent Jesus. For Dylan there isn't a distance between religion and politics, for Dylan the highest poltical authority is the highest authority, God. it is this authority that sent us Christ, and it is this authority that gave us the morality that we based our democracy and freedoms upon. without the sweetheart like you that some how comes to a place like this, we wouldn't have anything let alone democracy. (placed, as the song is, next to Jokerman, which is overtly religious, it is clear that this dual meaning is intended.)
    PurpleGeckoon September 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is about hell. the girl he is singing about has just gone to hell from heavan.

    "Got to be an important person to be in here, honey
    Got to have done some evil deed
    Got to have your own harem when you come in the door
    Got to play your harp until your lips bleed."
    --you have to do something bad in order to go to hell.


    "They say in your father's house, there's many mansions
    Each one of them got a fireproof floor"
    --hevan is known to have 'mansions' that can resist alot.


    case closed,
    peacee.
    "
    xxjiiillmakeupon January 31, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment^My Mom told me that. :]
    xxjiiillmakeupon March 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe sweetheart is Jesus? Im all for making your own interpretations, but did you just ignore the fact that he implicitly and more importantly EXPLICITY refers to the sweetheart as a woman?

    "You know a woman like you should be alone"

    The obvious theme is based on a sweetheart of a woman who the singer runs into in a seedy, dirty place where she does not fit in. You could interpret this place as a bar, brothel, gaming club, hell, the whole world, or whatever you like.

    But unless you believe Jesus was a chick its hard to imagine him/her being the sweetheart
    Puntyon June 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song and believe it's one of Dylan's most profound songs. Coming from his deep Biblical understanding, it's an allegory about the church as the Bride of Christ: "They say in your father's house, there's many mansions Each one of them got a fireproof floor". This comes from Jesus' promise in John 14:2. The protagonist is like Pilgrim's Progress' Mr Worldly-wiseman which is why he's using the corny pick-up line on the Bride. His boss is Satan, of whom "They say that vanity got the best of him" (he fell because of pride - Ezekiel 28:17) "But he sure left here in style" (he fell like lightning - Luke 10:18)
    As for "I once knew a woman who looked like you", Mr WWM is talking about Israel who was also a Bride before the church but who was seduced from the Way: "In order to deal in this game, got to make the queen disappear" from her King. I hope the church is listening to Dylan's warning...
    GDC2on September 01, 2007   Link

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