"Tin Angel" as written by and Bob Dylan....
It was late last night when the boss came home
To a deserted mansion and a desolate throne
Servant said: "Boss, the lady's gone
She left this morning just 'fore dawn."

"You got something to tell me, tell it to me, man
Come to the point as straight as you can"
"Old Henry Lee, chief of the clan
Came riding through the woods and took her by the hand"

The boss he lay back flat on his bed
He cursed the heat and he clutched his head
He pondered the future of his fate
To wait another day would be far too late

"Go fetch me my coat and my tie
And the cheapest labor that money can buy
Saddle me up my buckskin mare
If you see me go by, put up a prayer"

Well, they rode all night, and they rode all day
Eastward, long down the broad highway
His spirit was tired and his vision was bent
His men deserted him and onward he went

He came to a place where the light was dull
His forehead pounding in his skull
Heavy heart was racked with pain
Insomnia raging in his brain

Well, he threw down his helmet and his cross-handled sword
He renounced his faith, he denied his Lord
Crawled on his belly, put his ear to the wall
One way or another put an end to it all

He leaned down, cut the electric wire
Stared into the flames and he snorted the fire
Peered through the darkness, caught a glimpse of the two
It was hard to tell for certain who was who

He lowered himself down on a golden chain
His nerves were quaking in every vein
His knuckles were bloody, he sucked in the air
He ran his fingers through his greasy hair

They looked at each other and their glasses clinked
One single unit, inseparably linked
"Got a strange premonition there's a man close by"
"Don't worry about him, he wouldn't harm a fly"

From behind the curtain, the boss he crossed the floor
He moved his feet and he bolted the door
Shadows hiding the lines in his face
With all the nobility of an ancient race

She turned, she was startled with a look of surprise
With a hatred that could hit the skies
"You're a reckless fool, I could see it in your eyes
To come this way was by no means wise"

"Get up, stand up, you greedy-lipped wench
And cover your face or suffer the consequence
You are making my heart feel sick
Put your clothes back on, double-quick"

"Silly boy, you think me a saint
I'll listen no more to your words of complaint
You've given me nothing but the sweetest lies
Now hold your tongue and feed your eyes"

"I'd have given you the stars and the planets, too
But what good would these things do you?
Bow the heart if not the knee
Or never again this world you'll see"

"Oh, please let not your heart be cold
This man is dearer to me than gold"
"Oh, my dear, you must be blind
He's a gutless ape with a worthless mind"

"You've had your way too long with me
Now it's me who'll determine how things shall be"
"Try to escape," he cussed and cursed
'You'll have to try to get past me first"

"Do not let your passion rule
You think my heart the heart of a fool
And you, sir, you can not deny
You made a monkey of me, what and for why?"

"I'll have no more of this insulting chat
The devil can have you, I'll see to that
Look sharp or step aside
Or in the cradle you'll wish you'd died"

The gun went boom and the shot rang clear
First bullet grazed his ear
Second ball went right straight in
And he bent in the middle like a twisted pin

He crawled to the corner and he lowered his head
He gripped the chair and he grabbed the bed
It would take more than needle and thread
Bleeding from the mouth, he's as good as dead

"You shot my husband down, you fiend"
"Husband? What husband? What the hell do you mean?
He was a man of strife, a man of sin
I cut him down and I threw him to the wind"

This she said with angry breath
"You too shall meet the lord of death
It was I who brought your soul to life"
Then she raised her robe and she drew out a knife

His face was hard and caked with sweat
His arms ached and his hands were wet
"You're a murderous queen and a bloody wife
If you don't mind, I'll have the knife"

"We're two of a kind and our blood runs hot
But we're no way similar in body or thought
All husbands are good men, as all wives know"
Then she pierced him to the heart and his blood did flow

His knees went limp and he reached for the door
His tomb was sealed, he slid to the floor
He whispered in her ear: "This is all your fault
My fighting days have come to a halt"

She touched his lips and kissed his cheek
He tried to speak but his breath was weak
"You died for me, now I'll die for you"
She put the blade to her heart and she ran it through

All three lovers together in a heap
Thrown into the grave, forever to sleep
Funeral torches blazed away
Through the towns and the villages all night and all day


Lyrics submitted by mike, edited by as2191

"Tin Angel" as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

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Tin Angel song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +1
    My OpinionSpread the word, people - Dylan's the best musician ever at telling stories!

    This one could have a little more musical variation - but who'd give up a 9-minute tale of revenge, murder and love gone wrong?

    Great fun. Possibly my favourite song on the album, largely for his vocal phrasing. But out of 8 excellent tracks (the last two are naff), it's hard to pick... they're all so different...
    as2191on September 30, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is an adaption of Dylan's earlier song blackjack Davy which in turn is an adaption of woody Guthrie's Gypsy Davy. As the title suggests, this one is less about the male who takes the girl away, and more focuses on her perspective. In all three versions, only the 'bachelor' (so to speak) is given a name. In this version, insanity, chauvinism, and murder are all incorporated into the story. It is a much longer narrative and the tempo is slower and acts as a steady pulse.

    This isn't a theory, just a place for people to start looking. Seems like this page was missing some educated interpretations.
    JSteeInfoon November 18, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI applaud your effort and energy to provide your interpretation at such length. But I have to say your way off beam. This is a simple song, and whether or not Dylan quoted from his reading, I don't think there is any significance in the lyrics. I noticed before folk analyse Dylan's lyrics to death and beyond, when in fact he often uses words, phrases and similes because they sound good, words being another facet of music.
    patrick104on June 08, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Commentlong analysis, wrong analysis....too much reading one's own thoughts into the relatively simple lyrics of a love triangle is bound to come out sounding ridiculous, and below it does
    l117369428on October 19, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSeems the lady kills herself after she does away with her new lover for killing her old 'boss' , but characteristic of Dylan there's wiggle room for other interpretations, ie Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts...It's a means of getting the listener involved in the creative process.
    The only thing sure about Bob Dylan is that his name isn't Bob Dylan.
    l117369428on October 19, 2017   Link
  • -3
    TranslationIt was late last night when the boss came home
    To wander early his mansion and a desolate throne
    Servant said boss the ladies gone
    She left this morning just before dawn

    It was late last night when the boss a professional politician who controls a party or a political machine Dylan the protest singer came home come home (to somebody) to become completely clear to someone The reality of the plight of the American Negro finally came home to him To wander To go astray: wander from the path of rock and roll early of or belonging to a previous or remote period of time like Dylan’s folk period his mansion his folk music domain and a desolate bereft of friends or hope, Desolation Row throne seat of power, dignity, or rank of a personage Servant one of Dylan’s folk fans as in the poem Unfaithful Servant said boss the ladies gone said all the niceties are gone She left this morning just before dawn she left just before first appearance; a beginning: the dawn of folk rock.

    You got something to tell me, tell it to me man
    Come to the point as straight as you can
    Old Henry Lee chief of the clan
    Came riding through the woods and took her by the hand

    You got something to tell me, tell it to me man if you have something to say about my career, my actions tell it to me man Come to the point as straight as you can don’t couch it in poetry or obscure language The servant confesses Old Henry Lee Henry Lee III (January 29, 1756 — March 25, 1818) was an early American patriot who served as the ninth Governor of Virginia. Ray Gooch, the man who let Dylan crash at his pad in the early 1960’s and convinced Dylan to become a racist, antecedent Sir William Gooch was a colonial governor of Virginia chief of the clan and Ray Gooch had been KKK Grand Wizard Came riding through the woods came out of the rural South in some neck of the woods Rural in some vicinity or neighborhood; in some remote place and took her by the hand take someone in hand Figurative to take control of someone; to assume the responsibility of guiding someone.

    The boss he lay back flat on his bed
    He cursed the heat and he clutched his head
    He pondered the future of his fate
    To wait another day would be far too late

    The boss he lay Dylan “lay” to put forward as a reproach or accusation: They laid the blame for Black crime on poverty back flat “flat” as free of qualification; absolute: a flat refusal on his bed on his foundation of folk music He cursed the heat Slang Adverse comments or hostile criticism: Heat from the press forced the senator to resign he clutched being or occurring in a tense or critical situation his head a turning point; a crisis: bring matters to a head. He pondered the future of his fate he gave thought to the future of his career to wait another day would be far too late not to do something, like start playing rock and roll, now would be disastrous.

    Go fetch me my coat and my tie
    And the cheapest labor that money can buy
    Saddle me up my buckskin mare
    If you see me go by put up a prayer

    Go fetch me my coat a layer that covers or conceals a surface a coat of metaphors and my tie my ties to the Left And the cheapest labor “labor” to deal with in exhaustive or excessive detail; belabor: labor a point in the protest song. that money can buy that my imagination can informal: “buy” to accept the truth or feasibility of Saddle me up my buck “buck” Offensive a Black man skin a person's complexion a fair skin mare If you see me go by if you see me appear than disappear put up to make a display or the appearance of: put up a bluff a prayer the request of a complainant, as stated in a complaint or in equity, that the court grant the aid or relief solicited.




    Well, they rode all night, and they rode all day
    Eastward, long down the broad highway
    His spirit was tired and his vision was bent
    His men deserted him and onward he went

    Well they rode all night and they rode all day “ride” to harass with persistent criticism Eastward long the region of the United States east of the Allegheny Mountains and north of the Mason-Dixon Line on the broad liberal; tolerant: had broad views regarding social services highway road to stardom His spirit was tired and his vision the manner in which he saw or conceived of something was bent Determined to take a course of action: I was bent on becoming famouts His men deserted him and onward he went his fans deserted him but he pressed on.

    He came to a place where the light was dull
    His forehead pounding in his skull
    Heavy heart was racked with pain
    Insomnia raging in his brain

    He came to a place where the land was dull he came to a place that was intellectually weak or obtuse the pop music world His poor head pounding in his skull his folk music past was instilling in him by persistent, emphatic repetition the unlikelihood of success Heavy heart was racked “rack” a framework for holding, carrying, or displaying a specific object: a harmonica rack with pain Insomnia cocaine raging “rage” aggressive behavior associated with a specified environment or activity road rage in his brain

    Well he threw down his helmet and his cross handle sword
    He renounced his faith he denied his lord
    Crawled on his belly put his ear to the wall
    One way or another put an end to it all

    Well he threw down his helmet and his cross handle sword he threw his hat in the ring and grabbed his electic guitar He renounced his faith he denied his lord he wrote poems like My Back Pages renounced his leftwing folk days Crawled on his belly put his ear to the wall did preliminary non-folk songs on Another Side of Bob Dylan One way or another put an end to it all then killed his image as a folk singer.

    He leaned down cut the electric wire
    Stared into the flames and he snorted the fire
    Peered through the darkness caught a glimpse of the two
    Hard to tell for certain who was who

    He leaned down relied on for assistance or support: Lean on me for help cut the electric wire cut songs with electrified rock and roll Stared into the flames challenged the other rock and rollers who had become the flames of young girls and he snorted the fire and snorted coke and meth Peered saw something partially or dimly through the darkness confusion caught a glimpse of the two saw the Dylan the folksinger and Dylan the rock and roller Hard to tell for certain who was who they were the same person but appeared to be entirely different.

    He lowered himself down on a golden chain
    His nerves were quickening every vein
    His knuckles were bloody he sucked in the air
    He ran his fingers through his greasy hair

    He lowered himself down on a golden chain he had a chain of golden records His nerves were quickening his nerves were coming or returning to life: "And the weak spirit quickens" (T.S. Eliot) every vein after he found a vein to stick the needle in His knuckles were bloody knuckle down to apply oneself earnestly to a task he sucked in to attract by using an inexorable force, inducement, the air the AM radio airtime He ran his fingers through his greasy hair he became a rock and roll legend like Buddy Knox — Party Doll “To run her fingers through your hair.”

    They looked at each other and their glasses clinked
    One single unit inseparably linked
    Got a strange premonition there's a man close by
    Don't worry about him he wouldn't harm a fly

    They looked at each other and their glasses clinked Slang a prison or a prison cell; a jail: spent the night in the clink One single unit a part of a prison like the SHU, Special Housing Unit inseparably linked linked as in the links of chain shackling prisoners Got a strange premonition an early warning of a future event; forewarning there's a man close by there is a pig, a cop close by Don't worry about him he wouldn't harm a fly don’t worry he wouldn’t go after someone who liked to fly — get high.

    From behind the curtain the boss crossed the floor
    He moved his feet and he bolted the door
    Shadows hiding the lines in his face
    With all the nobility of an ancient race

    From behind the curtain still regarded as a Communist the boss crossed the floor crossed over the aisle, changed party affiliation He moved his feet get one's feet wet to begin to participate in something and he bolted the door To break away from an affiliation, as from a political party, in this case the party that had served as an entre in show biz Shadows a vestige or inferior form: shadows of their past achievements hiding the lines in his face With all the nobility of an ancient race

    She turned she was startled with a look of surprise she
    With a hatred that could hit the skies
    You're a reckless fool I could see it in your eyes
    To come this way was by no means wise

    She turned caused to act or go against; make antagonistic she was startled with a look of surprise to be or cause to be surprised or frightened, so as to start involuntarily With the hatred that could hit the skies with unlimited hatred You're a reckless fool I could see it in your eyes you are a reckless fool like Barry Goldwater whose policy regarding the USSR was termed reckless To come this way was by no means wise to use the Left to achieve fame was a tragic error.

    Get up stand up you greedy lipped wench
    And cover your face with some other consequence
    You are making my heart feel sick
    Put your clothes back on double quick

    Get up stand up show me who you are in my audience you greedy having or expressing desire for something lipped wench with loud vulgar mouth And cover your face and save face with some other consequence with some other punishment you have installed for me other than disrupting my concerts You are making my heart feel sick I am sick of this already Put your clothes back on double quick Tending to react hastily: quick to find fault.

    Silly boy you think me a saint
    I’ll listen no more to your words of complaint
    You've given me nothing but the sweetest lies
    Now hold your tongue and feed your eyes

    Silly boy you think me a saint you think I want to become a martyr and listen to your new sound? I’ll listen no more to your words of complaint I will listen to more to your lyrics of complaint. Reminiscent of I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine “Arise, arise,” he cried so loud / In a voice without restraint / “Come out, ye gifted kings and queens / And hear my sad complaint / No martyr is among ye now / Whom you can call your own /So go on your way accordingly/ But know you’re not alone” You've given me nothing but the sweetest lies you have given me nothing but lies you knew would resonate with me Now hold your tongue and feed your eyes now stop lying and feed you mind with doctrine.

    I’d have given you the stars and the planets too
    What good would these things to you
    Bow the heart if not the knee
    Or never again this world you see

    I’d have given you the stars I would have given you one who is highly celebrated in a field or profession and the planets too and the followers - a person who accepts the leadership of another What good would these things do you Bow the heart if not the knee give in at least partially Or never again this world you see or you will be purged from the world of Leftwing folk music.

    Oh please let not your heart be cold
    This man is dearer to me than gold
    Oh my dear you must be blind
    He's a gutless ape with a worthless mind

    Oh please let not your heart be cold don’t let your heart reject me This man is dearer to me than gold my art is more important than getting gold recording Oh my dear you must be blind my former idol you must be without forethought or provision; unaware: entered into the scheme blind He's a gutless he is lacking substance; weak or insignificant ape a mimic or imitator with a worthless mind

    You've had your way too long with me
    Now it’s me who will determine how things will be
    Tried to escape he cussed and cursed
    You'll have to try to get passed me first

    You've had your way too long with me I am sick of having to cow tow to bunch of race mixin’ folk singin’ commies Now it’s me who will determine how things will be now I will do what I always wanted to do Tried to escape she tried to get out of listening to Dylan but he cussed cuss - utter obscenities or profanities and cursed and he cursed Ecclesiastical To put under a ban or an anathema; excommunicate Just Like A Woman to the folkies “Your long time curse hurts but what’s worse is this pain in here I can’t stay in here ain’t it clear that I just don’t fit” You'll have to try get passed me first you will have to try to get passed my abstract language before you judge me.

    I dared not let your passion rule
    You think my heart the heart of a fool
    And you sir you cannot deny
    You made a monkey of me what and for why

    I dared not let your passion rule I dared not allow you to switch from acoustic to electric You think my heart the heart of a fool you think my wish is to be one who subverts convention or orthodoxy or varies from social conformity in order to reveal spiritual or moral truth: a holy fool. And you sir you cannot deny / You made a monkey of me One who behaves in a way suggestive of a monkey, as a mimic what and for why despite what I did for your career

    I’ll have no more of this insulting chat
    The devil can have you I’ll see to that
    Look sharp or step aside
    Or in the cradle you'll wish you died



    I’ll have no more of this insulting chat Reminiscent of Arthur McBride which also tells the story of Dylan’s interaction with the folk community "Oh no," says the Sergeant, "I'll have no such chat And neither will I take it from snappy young brats / For if you insult me with one other word / I'll cut off your heads in the morning" The devil can have you I’ll see to that Also reminiscent of Arthur McBride “And their old rusty rapiers that hung by their sides / We flung them as far as we could in the tide / "Now take them up, devils !" cried Arthur McBride / "And temper their edge in the morning!" Look sharp try to be marked by keenness and accuracy of perception or step aside Or in the cradle A place of origin; a birthplace: the cradle of folk music you'll wish you died

    The gun went boom a sudden increase, as in popularity and the shot An attempt; a try: took a shot at superstardom rang to have a sound or character suggestive of a particular quality clear distinctly rock and roll The first bullet grazed his ear the first bullet — mark on the record charts indicating that Dylan’s LP or 45 was moving up upset him because of its sound Second ball balls Vulgar Slang Courage, especially when reckless went right straight in And he bent in the middle like a twisted “twist” to alter or distort the intended meaning of: Weberman, under the guise of Dylanology twisted the words of Bob Dylan bin Also called dustbin rubbish bin a container for litter, rubbish, etc. Like I went through Dylan’s trash.

    He crawled to the corner and he lowered his head
    He grabbed the chair and he grabbed the bed
    It would take more than needle and thread
    Bleeding from the mouth he's as good as dead

    He crawled to the corner he submitted and assumed a dangerous or awkward position, esp from which escape is difficult a tight corner and he lowered his head he got high on smack, a downer He grabbed Slang To capture the attention of the chair An office or position of authority, such as a professorship. Dylan was awarded an honorary degree by Princeton and he grabbed the bed accommodations for a single person at a rehab center It would take more than needle and thread From A Buick 6 “She comes down the thruway ready to sew me up with thread” it would take more than heroin Bleeding from the mouth the opening to any cavity or canal in an organ or a bodily part such as the penis he's as good as dead he had contracted a deadly disease

    “You shot my husband down, you fiend!”
    “Husband? What husband? What the hell do you mean?
    He was a man of strife, a man of sin,
    I cut him down, and I’ll throw him to the wind”

    You shot my husband down you fiend “fiend” informal one who is addicted to something: a sex fiend. Husband what, husband what the hell do you mean you call that a husband? What a poor excuse for one! He was man of strife a disturbance of the peace or of public order a man of sin I cut him down I cut down the number of white blood cells in his body and i throw’d him to the wind

    You taught me how to love you, baby
    You taught me, oh, so well.
    Now, I can't go back to what was, baby
    I can't unring the bell.
    You took my reality
    And cast it to the wind
    And I ain't never gonna be the same again.
    You got it baby.

    “You taught me how to love you, baby” I learned the truth about you baby “You taught me, oh, so well” you caused me to learn by experience “Now, I can't go back to what was, baby” now I can’t go back to being HIV Negative “I can't unring the bell” the bell has tolled for me and it is final, incurable, terminal “You took my reality” you took my entire being “And cast it to the wind” and turned it into dust, shit, destroyed it “And I ain't never gonna be the same again /

    Hear this she said with angry breath
    You too shall meet the lord of death
    It was I who brought your soul to life
    And she raised her robe and she drew out a knife

    Hear this she said with angry breath / You too shall meet the lord of death even though you do not have a terminal disease you too are going to die It was I who brought your soul to life it was I who articulated your most sacred beliefs And she raised her robe and she drew out a knife and she was going to meet out justice




    His face was hard and caked with sweat
    His arms ached and his hands were wet
    You're a murderous queen and bloody wife
    If you dont mind I’ll have the knife

    His face was hard his race was resistant to persuasion or appeal; obdurate and caked with sweat and had suffered much over years, as for a misdeed His arms ached and his hands were wet he had been cruxified You're a murderous queen and bloody wife
    If you dont mind I’ll have the knife under the knife Informal undergo surgery.

    We're two of a kind and our blood runs hot
    But we're no way similar in body or thought
    All husbands are good men is all I knew
    Then she pierced him to the heart and his blood did flow

    His knees went limp and he reached for the door
    His doom was sealed he slipped to the floor
    He whispered in her ear this is all your fault
    My fighting days have come to a halt

    She touched his lips and kissed his cheek
    He tried to speak but his breath was weak
    You die for me I will die for you
    She put the blade to her heart and she ran it though

    All three lovers together in a heap
    Thrown into the grave forever to sleep
    Funeral torches blazed away
    Through the towns and the villages all night and all day
    ajwek1fon October 03, 2012   Link

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