Come gather 'round friends and I'll tell you a tale
Of when the red iron pits ran a-plenty
But the cardboard-filled windows and old men on the benches
Tell you now that the whole town is empty

In the north end of town my own children are grown
But I was raised on the other
In the wee hours of youth my mother took sick
And I was brought up by my brother

The iron ore poured as the years passed the door
The drag lines an' the shovels they was a-humming
'Till one day my brother failed to come home
The same as my father before him

Well, a long winter's wait from the window I watched
My friends they couldn't have been kinder
And my schooling was cut as I quit in the spring
To marry John Thomas, a miner

Oh, the years passed again, and the giving was good
With the lunch bucket filled every season
What with three babies born, the work was cut down
To a half a day's shift with no reason

Then the shaft was soon shut, and more work was cut
And the fire in the air, it felt frozen
'Till a man come to speak, and he said in one week
That number eleven was closing

They complained in the East, they are paying too high
They say that your ore ain't worth digging
That it's much cheaper down in the South American towns
Where the miners work almost for nothing

So the mining gates locked, and the red iron rotted
And the room smelled heavy from drinking
Where the sad, silent song made the hour twice as long
As I waited for the sun to go sinking

I lived by the window as he talked to himself
This silence of tongues it was building
'Till one morning's wake, the bed it was bare
And I was left alone with three children

The summer is gone, the ground's turning cold
The stores one by one they're all folding
My children will go as soon as they grow
Well, there ain't nothing here now to hold them


Lyrics submitted by Jack

North Country Blues Lyrics as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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North Country Blues song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +3
    General Comment

    I read that it was his FIRST song written from the perspective of a women. You can't figure that out from the song. Also I don't think anyone needs advice on how to enjoy Dylan. A little supplemental reading never hurt anyone. Especially when the artist in question generally writes relatively dense lyrics. Finally, what the fuck are you doing here if you don't think we should be reading about Dylan's songs.

    SomethingCleveron March 14, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    In the long tradition of mining songs. And, almost, an anti-globalisation song ahead of it's time - a North American mine shutting cause it cannot compete with the prices of competitors in South America where labour costs are cheaper, and which those they supply are happy to buy from. And the story for much of the US, UK and other mining industries. And speaking of the need for international workers solidarity - to prevent the exploitation of those workers in South America, and the jobs of those North America from being lost as unscrupulous and exploitative practices in South America could allow their production costs to be undercut.

    A song that, like most mining songs, that if you're from a mining background at all, sends a chill.

    SuitBoyon April 07, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    You 'read' that? You could have just listened to the song. I admit that it's easy to miss that it's from the perspective of a woman, especially with Dylan's style of singing (but the line ' To marry John Thomas, a miner' is a clue)... My point is, you don't need to read about it. Listen and enjoy. It's a ballad, the story is laid out plain, without oblique references and metaphores. It's strength lays in it's haunting melody and simple yet beautifully poetic voice that is so evocative of the characters it portrays.

    "So the mining gates locked And the red iron rotted And the room smelled heavy from drinking" - sends a shiver down my spine every time.

    dongiovannion March 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I read that this was Dylan first song written entirely from the perspective of a women. It about living the mining life and the effect of it closing on this women and her family.

    SomethingCleveron January 19, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This song is so sad the way Dylan sings it, One of my favorates of his.

    FackingHellon September 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I think it's incredeble how a song written so long ago has relevents today. "My children will go As soon as they grow. Well, there ain't nothing here now to hold them" I know exactly what he means because i feel i have to leave where i live to find work. I would also say i'm a fan of songs written from the other sexes ppoint of view.

    thrashgrunge4lifeon July 08, 2012   Link

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