They say ev'rything can be replaced,
Yet ev'ry distance is not near.
So I remember ev'ry face
Of ev'ry man who put me here.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.

They say ev'ry man needs protection,
They say ev'ry man must fall.
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Some place so high above this wall.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.

Standing next to me in this lonely crowd,
Is a man who swears he's not to blame.
All day long I hear him shout so loud,
Crying out that he was framed.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.


Lyrics submitted by twitty

I Shall Be Released song meanings
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43 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI always thought that this profoundly impressive song is about alienation and salvation a la mode Dylanesque. It may contain but cannot be limited to an anti-death penalty theme.
    TooDeadForDreamingon October 02, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentA man in prison waiting either to get out or be executed
    hayes6on December 15, 2004   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation"I see my light come shining
    From the west unto the east."

    If sunlight is shining from the west unto the east, the sun is in the west and about to set. So if his light is shining from the west unto the east, his life is about to set (end).
    eawgoalieon April 09, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentincredible version at the band's The Last Waltz go get the dvd and be shockandawed
    youenjoymyselfon April 30, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI see this as an anti-death penalty song. Written from the point of view of a man who is on death row and is innocent. He knows he will be released in a figurative sense when he is finally executed.
    johnnya2on December 16, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe existentialist Dylan again - crying out that he was framed by every face of every man who put him there. Isn't that all our lives - there is only so much freedom in this world.
    efforton June 12, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commenthe's very well read it's well known
    come on folks
    Great Gatsby?
    I see my light shinin'
    from the West on to the East
    let's discuss lepers and crooks for a minute here
    thats what its about
    Its about Jay
    nmustaphaon September 13, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentEach time I listen to this song, it reminds me of the story of the Count of Monte Cristo. Seeing that Dylan liked the book (I think I read that in Chronicles Volume One), maybe he tried to tell this story, though with the intent to touch one or more themes discussed above.
    Zegveron June 12, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentmy reference:
    the myth of the cave.
    our world of shadows.
    (Socrates / Plato)
    cevitabron May 26, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI think "So I remember ev'ry face, of ev'ry man who put me here" is about how every person who comes into our lives teaches us something about ourselves, both good and bad, and that these teachings have made us who we are at this point in time. "....they say ev'ry man must fall. Yet I swear I see my reflection, some place so high above the wall." The perverbial "they". Who is "they"? Mother Culture, of course. Yet the writer sees the reflection of his true, higher self and "swears" he won't fall. The writer is also a product of the pain others have caused.......he's in great grief which, in and of itself, delivers him to a higher plane. However, when he sees his light come shining. so brightly that it seems to be coming from the west unto the east (which is backward from a normal day) that bright light beckons him to peace, which is the meaning of "I Shall Be Released".
    mamakaton May 14, 2012   Link

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