In the still of the night, in the world's ancient light
Where wisdom grows up in strife
My bewildering brain toils in vain
Through the darkness on the pathways of life
Each invisible prayer is like a cloud in the air
Tomorrow keeps turning around
We live and we die, we know not why
But I'll be with you when the deal goes down

We eat and we drink, we feel and we think
Far down the street we stray
I laugh and I cry and I'm haunted by
Things I never meant nor wished to say
The midnight rain follows the train
We all wear the same thorny crown
Soul to soul, our shadows roll
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

The moon gives light and shines by night
I scarcely feel the glow
We learn to live and then we forgive
O'r the road we're bound to go
More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours
That keep us so tightly bound
You come to my eyes like a vision from the skies
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

I picked up a rose and it poked through my clothes
I followed the winding stream
I heard the deafening noise, I felt transient joys
I know they're not what they seem
In this earthly domain, full of disappointment and pain
You'll never see me frown
I owe my heart to you, and that's sayin' it true
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down


Lyrics submitted by JoshPowell, edited by Mikesch


When the Deal Goes Down song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commentsuch abeautiful song!
    ssisterson October 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe video is too
    youtube.com/…
    Josueon November 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTruly Bob Dylan is one of rock's greatest lyricists
    AC/DC Fanon November 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of a few songs on the Modern Times record that takes me back to Willie Nelson' masterful Stardust record...musically (though I was not alive at the time). As a Christian, I can't help but love the beautiful spiritual imagery in Dylan:
    "We all wear the same thorny crown
    Soul to soul, our shadows roll
    And I'll be with you when the deal goes down"

    And Dylan's opening stanzas get me every time:
    In the still of the night, in the world's ancient light
    Where wisdom grows up in strife
    My bewildering brain, tolls in vain
    Through the darkness on the pathways of life
    Each invisible prayer is like a cloud in the air
    Tomorrow keeps turning around
    We live and we die, we know not why
    But I'll be with you when the deal goes down

    (best stanza in the song)
    LoganWalteron May 14, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this is the best song on the album. He's not simply putting his great poetry to music, nor is he coming up with simple lyrics in order to show off a great musical melody. Here, the lyrics are top-notch, and the rhyme scheme is perfect, and like the last person said, it's like a Willie Nelson classic--I'd say, because it is modest and heartfelt and low-key.

    This is truly a song to us all. The lyrics can be interpreted as Christian as well as Buddhist, as Buddhist themes like frailty, transient joys, and suffering co-mingle with Christian prayers, radical guilt, and thorny crowns. Anyone, believer or atheist, should be able to enjoy this song. A great reflection on putting our lives in perspective.
    Shep1986on November 17, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationLike Shep1986 and LoganWalter I see this song as a prayer. The singer is in a process of striving to have his wisdom grow in a world "full of disappointment and pain" where many experiences are "not what they seem". Though in the "darkness on the pathways of life" his toiling often appears in vain, he is sure that he will succeed in finally being together with his addressee, who is indicated as Jesus with the "thorny crown" while I whonder who it should be for a Buddhist.

    Wearing a thorny crown like Jesus indicates suffering like him instead of passively relying on his suffering. Similarly active strife is found necessary. Still the reasons for living and dying remain hidden - at least to most people.

    Yes, " A great reflection on putting our lives in perspective" (Shep1986).
    Mikeschon July 06, 2013   Link

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