"No Time to Think" as written by and Bob Dylan....
In death, you face life with a child and a wife
Who sleep-walks through your dreams into walls.
You're a soldier of mercy, you're cold and you curse,
"He who cannot be trusted must fall."

Loneliness, tenderness, high society, notoriety.
You fight for the throne and you travel alone
Unknown as you slowly sink
And there's no time to think.

In the Federal City you been blown and shown pity,
In secret, for pieces of change.
The empress attracts you but oppression distracts you
And it makes you feel violent and strange.

Memory, ecstasy, tyranny, hypocrisy
Betrayed by a kiss on a cool night of bliss
In the valley of the missing link
And you have no time to think.

Judges will haunt you, the country priestess will want you
Her worst is better than best.
I've seen all these decoys through a set of deep turquoise eyes
And I feel so depressed.

China doll, alcohol, duality, mortality.
Mercury rules you and destiny fools you
Like the plague, with a dangerous wink
And there's no time to think.

Your conscience betrayed you when some tyrant waylaid you
Where the lion lies down with the lamb.
I'd have paid off the traitor and killed him much later
But that's just the way that I am.

Paradise, sacrifice, mortality, reality.
But the magician is quicker and his game
Is much thicker than blood and blacker than ink
And there's no time to think.

Anger and jealousy's all that he sells us,
He's content when you're under his thumb.
Madmen oppose him, but your kindness throws him
To survive it you play deaf and dumb.

Equality, liberty, humility, simplicity.
You glance through the mirror and there's eyes staring clear
At the back of your head as you drink
And there's no time to think.

Warlords of sorrow and queens of tomorrow
Will offer their heads for a prayer.
You can't find no salvation, you have no expectations
Anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

Mercury, gravity, nobility, humility.
You know you can't keep her and the water gets deeper
That is leading you onto the brink
But there's no time to think.

You've murdered your vanity, buried your sanity
For pleasure you must now resist.
Lovers obey you but they cannot sway you
They're not even sure you exist.

Socialism, hypnotism, patriotism, materialism.
Fools making laws for the breaking of jaws
And the sound of the keys as they clink
But there's no time to think.

The bridge that you travel on goes to the Babylon girl
With the rose in her hair.
Starlight in the East and you're finally released
You're stranded but with nothing to share.

Loyalty, unity, epitome, rigidity.
You turn around for one real last glimpse of Camille
'Neath the moon shinin' bloody and pink
And there's no time to think.

Bullets can harm you and death can disarm you
But no, you will not be deceived.
Stripped of all virtue as you crawl through the dirt,
You can give but you cannot receive.

No time to choose when the truth must die,
No time to lose or say goodbye,
No time to prepare for the victim that's there,
No time to suffer or blink
And no time to think.


Lyrics submitted by hari66, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"No Time to Think" as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

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No Time to Think song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentOK, nobody else has taken a try at
    commenting on this great song, so
    here are my thoughts to get a dialogue
    started.:

    1. This song is a wonderful combination
    of Dylan's gifts of clever word selection
    and brilliantly suggestive imagery (that
    allows listeners to glean their own meaning
    based on their own perspectives,
    interpretations, experiences,
    priorities, etc.).

    2. The name and refrain state the main point:
    we do not have time -- or take time -- to think --
    especially about things that deserve
    substantial time.

    3. There are 8.5 stanzas. The tempo of most
    of the lines seems "rushed" -- except for the
    first line of each refrain - the lists of
    four nouns -- these nouns are recited very
    slowly and mockingly compared to the other lines.

    To me Dylan is saying that we don't
    have or take enough time to analyze
    the many important things of life, we
    simply attach a bunch of broad and
    useless labels and move on.

    He mocks the labels with their
    uniform rhyme and using his
    exaggerated rhythm, repetitive
    melody and sarcastic vocals.

    4. Some of the stanzas seem to have
    somewhat unambiguous, coherent
    unifying themes. Others do not.

    Someone please help me here..........
    ADylanFanon October 04, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti love the rhyme pattern or whatever it is in this song. gonna make it hard to memorize. as for meaning i have no fucking clue i dont even think i care
    jasssson November 05, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationFine, fine. I'll try.

    Big fan of Bob Dylan... And I'm a lyricist. This is my interpretation based on the ways I relate to the song.

    Addiction, meaningless trysts, lack of direction in life... All the while, everyone around (and society in general) seems hell-bent on keeping everything (and everyone) tucked away in their labeled boxes...

    A few lines that stick out to me...

    "The empress attracts you but oppression distracts you
    And it makes you feel violent and strange."

    Which seems to make a play on addiction... How... even though you crave whatever it is, you are bound to it... Kinda like a fight between the urge to rebel against that which controls you and the need you have for what it is that's supplied to you.

    "Judges will haunt you, the country priestess will want you
    Her worst is better than best.
    I've seen all these decoys through a set of deep turquoise eyes
    And I feel so depressed."

    Can't trust anyone... People say they have good intentions and want to help, but... it's fake, somehow. He's jaded.


    "Your conscience betrayed you when some tyrant waylaid you
    Where the lion lies down with the lamb.
    I'd have paid off the traitor and killed him much later
    But that's just the way that I am."

    Street politics vs. morality.

    "Anger and jealousy's all that he sells us,
    He's content when you're under his thumb.
    Madmen oppose him, but your kindness throws him
    To survive it you play deaf and dumb."

    Another play on street politics... Kindness is never appreciated or tolerated. It's taken for weakness. The only way people with a conscience can survive is to be someone of little importance. Be such a small fish that it wouldn't matter what you think.

    "Warlords of sorrow and queens of tomorrow
    Will offer their heads for a prayer.
    You can't find no salvation, you have no expectations
    Anytime, anyplace, anywhere."

    Lack of trust or faith in people. He's paranoid.

    "Bullets can harm you and death can disarm you
    But no, you will not be deceived.
    Stripped of all virtue as you crawl through the dirt,
    You can give but you cannot receive."

    Acceptance of the fact that everyone he knows is out to use him... that he cannot trust anyone, and that his situation and people in general, are, indeed hopeless.

    There... probably wayyyy off, but that's my interpretation of what the song means.










    DisiectiMembraPoetaeon November 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's about the yearning for clarity, truth and meaning in a time of crisis; instead life deals chaos at you 200 miles an hour. Truths, familiarity and known quantities are suddenly called into question: life, death, govenment, conscience, gravity, your own image / reflection.
    kidblaston November 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentninth stanza sounds like "vomit and jealousy" not "anger and jealousy." or maybe something else but it doesn't sound like "anger" maybe it's just my verison...
    jasssson December 08, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of those great literary Dylan songs. Love the images he invokes, from all kinds of places and eras and fields of human knowledge like politics, nature, relationships, economics, psychology, philosophy, religion, arts, colors and smells et al.
    Fantastic melody and rhythm! I love dancing to this song by myself! :) Full volume and bass, treble pumped up. Bob's vocal delivery is as always spot on. He enters the mix with a bang and he takes it higher and higher with his peculiar intimate and howling and raw and true style and voice quality.
    I love the fact that the refrain has that 1st line made up of 4 different words everytime. That allows me to imagine it all on a larger canvas. Probably what he was shooting for.
    Anyway, it is a bit late in India as of now and I am listening to Bob sing this song as I type here. It is a fantastic experience to be alive when Bob's on a roll and life is hard but he helps you forget those parts of life for a while and opens up the doors of higher grounds for you from his recordings from a few decades ago and I am sure he will continue doing that for coming decades after my father's generation is gone and we are gone. Here's to each and everyone of those! May the comments on this post grow over time and may my comment be somewhere out there for your eyes to fall on to. So that you know what legacy this artist is leaving behind. 'A hero is a person who understand the responsibility that comes with it' as he said once. Cheers!
    sujiton March 13, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm new here, so be nice. And I know this site is devoted to lyrics, and to me if a song ain't got great lyrics, it ain't got much. (Well, mostly--there are some great exceptions...) And I think this song has some of the most interesting, thought-provoking and evocative lyrics Dylan has written--so far. But beyond that, what I really love about this song is the serpentine, insistent melody, earworming itself into your brain until, when it ends, you wish it hadn't and just want to start it over again. Oh yeah, that and the bizarre inside-out, sometime-leading and sometime-trailing "back-up" singers (counter-point, I don't know enough to say). The song would be great without them, but they add another layer that makes me listen that much harder (what is he, what are they, doing--and how?). Somehow, it hammers home the main point of "no time to think" without being simplistic.

    PS--I agree that it's "vomit and jealousy." Listened to this song hundreds of times and never once heard "anger" While we're nitpicking words, I hear (and think it fits better with the music): "Vomit and jealousy's all that he sells AS HE'S content to put you under his thumb..." rather than
    "Anger and jealousy's all that he sells us,
    He's content when you're under his thumb." It doesn't really change the meaning so maybe it's moot, but it's the way I hear it and I think it better fits the propulsive singing. But really, it's hard to tell what he's singing sometimes, esp on this album--which I truly think is under-appreciated. I'm gonna move on and see what people think about Where Are You Tonight (and what that ONE LINE is...)

    Read more at songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858643161/
    jimT27614on April 01, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm new here, so be nice. And I know this site is devoted to lyrics, and to me if a song ain't got great lyrics, it ain't got much. (Well, mostly--there are some great exceptions...) And I think this song has some of the most interesting, thought-provoking and evocative lyrics Dylan has written--so far. But beyond that, what I really love about this song is the serpentine, insistent melody, earworming itself into your brain until, when it ends, you wish it hadn't and just want to start it over again. Oh yeah, that and the bizarre inside-out, sometime-leading and sometime-trailing "back-up" singers (counter-point, I don't know enough to say). The song would be great without them, but they add another layer that makes me listen that much harder (what is he, what are they, doing--and how?). Somehow, it hammers home the main point of "no time to think" without being simplistic.

    PS--I agree that it's "vomit and jealousy." Listened to this song hundreds of times and never once heard "anger" While we're nitpicking words, I hear (and think it fits better with the music): "Vomit and jealousy's all that he sells AS HE'S content to put you under his thumb..." rather than
    "Anger and jealousy's all that he sells us,
    He's content when you're under his thumb." It doesn't really change the meaning so maybe it's moot, but it's the way I hear it and I think it better fits the propulsive singing. But really, it's hard to tell what he's singing sometimes, esp on this album--which I truly think is under-appreciated. I'm gonna move on and see what people think about Where Are You Tonight (and what that ONE LINE is...)

    Read more at songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858643161/
    jimT27614on April 01, 2013   Link

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