"I'm Not There" as written by and Bob Dylan....
Then all right, and then she's all the time in my neighborhood
She cried both day and night I know it because it was then

It's a milestone but she's down on her luck
And she mainly so alone in a bar to make him hard to buck
That was then

I believe where she'd stop him if she wants time to care
I believe that she'd look upon inside him to care
And I go by the Lord and the way she's on my way
But I don't belong there

No, I don't belong to her, I don't belong to any choir
She's my prize forsaken angel but she don't hear me cry
She's a long-hearted mystic and she can't carry on
When I'm there she's alright, but when she's not when I'm gone

Heaven knows that the answer she don't con no one
She's the way for sailing beautiful, she's mine for the one
And I lost a heavy tension by temptation as it runs
But she don't holler me, but I'm not there, I'm gone

Now I'll cry tonight, like I cried the night before
And I'm leased on the highs, but I'll dream about the door
She's alone, she's forsaken, by fate worst to tell
It don't hang proximation, she smiles fairly well

Now, when I'll choose to live it, I was born to love her
But she knows that the kingdom waits so high above her
And I run, but I race, but it's not too fast to slim
But I can't perceive her, I'm not there, I'm gone

Well, it's all about diffusion as I cry for her veil
I don't need anybody now beside me to tell
And it's all revelation, I recede, but it's not
She's a long-bodied beauty but she don't like to smile
And she phones

Yeah, she's gone like the rainbow that shinin' yesterday
But now she's home beside me and I'd like to hear her stay
She's a lone forsaken beauty, and she don't trust anyone
I wish I was beside her, but I'm not there, I'm gone

Well, it's a-too hard to stake him, and I don't bother leave
It's so vague, but amusing, when she's a-hard, too hard to leave

It's a lode, it's a crime, the way she won't be around
But she don't phone to hate me but just-a long to make a clown
Yes I believe that it's rightful, oh I believe it in my mind
I been told like I said right before, carry on the grind
And she's gone, yes she told her like I said, carry on

I wish I was there to help her, but I'm not there, I'm gone


Lyrics submitted by focused, edited by HansLucas

I'm Not There song meanings
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12 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI can not believe more people have not commented on this song. To me it is incredibly beautiful and meaningful. My favorite version is from the "I'm Not There" soundtrack.

    It sounds to me like he has an intense love for a woman. He realizes how much she loves him, too. I am guessing it is a forbidden love. She has incredible and unbearable pain over it and "cries both day and night" and he knows because he was "there". To me he is saying, when you love someone this intensely, you feel you are together even though you are physically apart.

    Since it is forbidden love, they are not able to have open and honest communication. Therefore they are not at ease to convey their anger or passion or intense feelings of love. This is awful because if they were able to speak to each other, face to face and eye to eye, they could see the love or hurt or anger or betrayal in each other's eyes and face, Only then could they get past these feelings and begin to truly love each other in a positive way. Since they are not able to do that, the communication becomes strained and difficult and feelings get blown out of proportion in a negative way. To me, even though this is all so awful, it doesn't discount the feelings of love.

    I think he is saying that even though he is "not there" physically- with her, where he would like to be- that he IS with her in spirit and a part of him always will be.

    Recently I heard a phrase that really struck me: " You can't put the tears back in your eyes." Meaning to me, that the love you have felt for this person and the pain and trauma it has caused you, has shaped you. It has made you who you are today. You are not the same person anymore.

    I think the name of the song should be "I AM THERE".

    scarletmagnoliaon August 27, 2009   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think it's pretty clear that Dylan did not finish this song and, during the one recording he made of it, he simply improvised some nonsense lines to fill in where he didn't have something more concrete. All the same, it has a lot of potential and it's telling that Dylan would choose not to finish the song. He recorded one demo of it, then handed the tape to Neil Young when Young mentioned he really liked it. The reason we have the song now on the I'M NOT THERE soundtrack is due to Young finding the tape in his archive when he was reviewing material to release in his own ARCHIVE series.
    RogerRyanon January 28, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think he is singing to someone who loves him, but he doesn't love her as much as she loves him. He cares for her a lot and wishes he could be there to love her, but he simply can't because he doesn't feel the same, and knows that it's best for both of them to split up.
    sunnysennyon May 06, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a beautiful song. My interpretation- he is singing about a woman in a bad/abusive relationship. "I believe that she would stop him if she would find time to care. I believe that she may look upon the side that [he] used to care."

    Maybe Dylan is talking about an ex-wife. "I cry for her veil."

    Its interesting that he shows intense love and absolute indifference in just the twist of a sentence. This is one of the songs that really haunts you.
    arboron May 22, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHe mumbles a lot of the words (sounds like he's drowned his sorrows), but it's clear the emotional tone of the song.

    He's in a world of hurt, as his love is breaking apart.

    Seems like he cheated on her ("by temptation as it runs") and he's sorry, but sorry's not good enough.

    Also seems like she's very fragile (she's alright when I'm there, but she's not when I'm gone).

    The most poignant part is that even when she's beside him "I'm not there I'm gone." They can't connect anymore.
    klinsmannon November 06, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe original title was "I'm Not There (1956)." Dylan himself once said it was "a song that is not there." It was recorded during the Basement Tapes sessions, probably in 1967, so I have no idea what the (1956) part means. Possibly Dylan is recalling a relationship he had much earlier, in his teens, which could account for the jumbled lyrical quality of the song -- it's an uncertain memory of a confusing time. But the emotions are absolutely clear, as others have said above.
    zeppyfishon November 25, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is so beautiful although i'm sure these lyrics are all wrong, (better than anything i could come up with though!), you don't even need to understand what he's saying here, yet you know exactly how he feels =(

    he is so regretful, so hurt, so confused.

    i wonder if bob even knows what he's saying here because honestly at some points, it sounds like he was just making things up lol but like i said, it doesn't matter. this is one of his masterpieces, and i can't believe there are no comments, sad.
    jasssson April 28, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think its about two people that went there separate ways but they still love each other. and he knows that the other man she is with will give her a better life. but its hard for him to let go of her
    hidude420on September 24, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNINE COMMENTS?????!!!! Really?! This is the single best song Dylan ever wrote. I know that's a pretty massive claim, but none of the others move me this much. The only songs that come close are "Simple Twist of Fate" and "Blind Willie McTell." I cannot believe it took until 2007 before this song was finally officially released on the soundtrack to the film of the same time. The fans had been enjoying on the bootleg "A Tree With Roots" for some time, but this song really needed a wider audience, as evidenced by the pitiful number of comments.
    HyperBullyon March 26, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnother "love song" that hides Dylan with his lyric skills, an interesting process.
    farosson March 04, 2012   Link

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