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Ballad of Hollis Brown Lyrics

Hollis Brown
He lived on the outside of town
Hollis Brown
He lived on the outside of town
With his wife and five children
And his cabin fallin' down

You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
Your children are so hungry
That they don't know how to smile

Your baby's eyes look crazy
They're a-tuggin' at your sleeve
Your baby's eyes look crazy
They're a-tuggin' at your sleeve
You walk the floor and wonder why
With every breath you breathe

The rats have got your flour
Bad blood it got your mare
The rats have got your flour
Bad blood it got your mare
If there's anyone that knows
Is there anyone that cares?

You prayed to the Lord above
Oh please send me a friend
You prayed to the Lord above
Oh please send me a friend
Your empty pocket tell yuh
That you ain't-a got no friend

Your babies are crying louder
It's pounding on your brain
Your babies are crying louder
It's pounding on your brain
Your wife's screams are stabbin' you
Like the dirty drivin' rain

Your grass is turning black
There's no water in your well
Your grass is turning black
There's no water in your well
You spent your last lone dollar
On seven shotgun shells

Way out in the wilderness
A cold coyote calls
Way out in the wilderness
A cold coyote calls
Your eyes fix on the shotgun
That's hangin' on the wall

Your brain is a-bleedin'
And your legs can't seem to stand
Your brain is a-bleedin'
And your legs can't seem to stand
Your eyes fix on the shotgun
That you're holdin' in your hand

There's seven breezes a-blowin'
All around the cabin door
There's seven breezes a-blowin'
All around the cabin door
Seven shots ring out
Like the ocean's pounding roar

There's seven people dead
On a South Dakota farm
There's seven people dead
On a South Dakota farm
Somewhere in the distance
There's seven new people born
19 Meanings
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This is Bob Dylan telling it like it is. Yes, it is not a happy song, but this is the effect that poverty can have on people. This is what the folk/protest singers are supposed to do...describe social problems in a truthful way, without any sugar on top.

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god damn this is so depressing! i think maybe the last verse is talking about how nothing really matters or how evil is always balanced by good

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Egad, how you can you prattle on about such a simple song?

For the urban sequel, listen to 'Frankie Teardrop' by Suicide. Then maybe you'll get the message!

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I love how he bought 7 shotgun shells, then the last verse says seven people dead

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If you think the ending ("Somewhere in the distance, there's seven new people born") is positive in any way, I cannot stress enough how wrong you are. Every verse - every thing that happens to Hollis - is bleak to create a feeling of hopelessness. The seven new people are also being born into a world where this kind of poverty exists, and the same life should be expected for them. It is a very bleak song.

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I dont think it's describing a social problem. I relate it closer to Poe's Haunted palace. An outer enviroment which reflects an inner change. Hollis Brown may have lost himself and then lost his farm "Hollis Brown He lived on the outside of town"

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This song is somewhat morbid in my opinion. A story which describes one man's dealings with poverty as we know it in the 20th/21st century. Definitely 'no sugar on top' of this tale, personally this song parallels with Steinbecks's 'Grapes of Wrath" as I see it, no romance, just reality.

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Oh, the depression of poverty. I disease which could easily be cured by modern soceity. So depressing, isn't it? "Wait only for my bootheels to be wanderin'"

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Haunting.

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I have a version of this on a Portugesse compilation that is faded out at the 8th verse, and it always sounded to me like 'Way out in the wilderness a cold calvary calls' rather than coyote, and left the imminence of death hanging pregnant. It's not often that misheard Dylan lyrics improve on the actual ones, but I'm not sure that that doesn't. Left unresolved with just the implication, rather than spelt out as the song in full does, it reminds me somewhat of Hemingway's 6 word short story "For Sale. Baby shoes, never worn."

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