Ev'rybody's building the big ships and the boats,
Some are building monuments,
Others, jotting down notes,
Ev'rybody's in despair,
Ev'ry girl and boy
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
Ev'rybody's gonna jump for joy.
Come all without, come all within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.

I like to do just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet,
But jumping queues and making haste,
It ain't my cup of meat.
Ev'rybody's 'neath the trees,
Feeding pigeons on a limb
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
All the pigeons gonna run to him.
Come all without, come all within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.

A cat's meow and a cow's moo, I can recite 'em all,
Just tell me where it hurts yuh, honey,
And I'll tell you who to call.
Nobody can get no sleep,
There's someone on ev'ryone's toes
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
Ev'rybody's gonna wanna doze.
Come all without, come all within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.

Lyrics submitted by dsfire, edited by Mellow_Harsher, slywlf

Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn) song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commenti've heard that Dylan was at an acid party when Anthony Quinn complained about the noise. Quinn had just played a mighty Eskimo on a not so good movie and Dylan wrote this song to insult him. the other meanings may be right but i beleive it started with this.
    Nickerson October 29, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is definately NOT about Jesus, even though many seem to think so!

    markrobion May 29, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationDylan may have thought the drug references in this were too blatant. I am suprised so many think it's a religious or other song.

    "not my cup of meat" blends the idea of "cup of tea" as personal preference and "meat" as in what primarily drives and sustains you. It's a clever way of saying "I subsist on drugs but I prefer something else, though I know some people live for this."

    The idea that "some are building monuments, others jotting notes" probably refers to rolled cigarettes whether joints, laced joints, laced tobacco, etc. Jotting notes would be something narrow and a monument would be obnoxiously large.

    Eskimo ~ snow ~ cocaine.

    "Trees" likely refers to marijuana as well. The pigeons choose their perches, and when the man with the snow comes along they flock there instead of the trees.

    The connection between the actor and film could have a personal meaning to Dylan. Perhaps the actor Anthony Quinn resembled the dealer who inspired the song, or was around the scene either in person or on a poster, and was popularly associated with the archetype of the eskimo at that time and place.
    songmeaningstomon August 24, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat does this song mean? Anyone know?
    gregoeon May 18, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjesus
    willardon November 16, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBob's voice is insanely cool in this song... And the Band is awesome.
    ihadmeavisionon November 29, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentive heard its about a group of people awaiting the arrival of an acid supplier. Also, it could relate to simply waiting for someone bringing help, such as more basic medical attention.
    floatinginblimpaloton December 29, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, like i said already its about jesus
    willardon February 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn the 'Biograph' notes, Bob says it's a nursery rhyme! If it is 'about jesus', it's the funniest description of the rapture ever written.
    elephant_rangeon February 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst part "Ev'rybody's in despair" until a savior comes. Savior could be a messiah or a drug dealer. 2nd part, "All the pigeons gonna run to him" implies all the fools will be drawn to Quinn, which still could mean Jesus or a drug dealer. The 3rd part throws in a bunch of drug references "tell me where it hurts yuh, honey, And I'll tell you who to call" which implies a Dr. Feelgood solution. Also "Nobody can get no sleep" maybe because they're high on coke or speed. I though for sure this song was about acid when I first heard it because "Ev'rybody's gonna wanna doze." I thought it was dose (slang for LCD) and not doze. This may be giving Bob too much credit, but the song does draw a humorous parallel between religious saviors and pushers.
    rdaggeron March 18, 2005   Link

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