I didn't mean
To treat you so bad
You shouldn't take it so personal
I didn't mean
To make you so sad
You just happened to be there, that's all
When I saw you say "goodbye" to your friend and smile
I thought that it was well understood
That you'd be comin' back in a little while
I didn't know that you were sayin' "goodbye" for good

But, sooner or later, one of us must know
That you just did what you're supposed to do
Sooner or later, one of us must know
That I really did try to get close to you

I couldn't see
What you could show me
Your scarf had kept your mouth well hid
I couldn't see
How you could know me
But you said you knew me and I believed you did
When you whispered in my ear
And asked me if I was leavin' with you or her
I didn't realize just what I did hear
I didn't realize how young you were

But, sooner or later, one of us must know
That you're just doin' what you're supposed to do
Sooner or later, one of us must know
That I really did try to get close to you

I couldn't see
When it started snowin'
Your voice was all that I heard
I couldn't see
Where we were goin'
But you said you knew an' I took your word
And then you told me later, as I apologized
That you were just kiddin' me, you weren't really from the farm
An' I told you, as you clawed out my eyes that I
Never really meant to do you any harm

But, sooner or later, one of us must know
That you just did what you're supposed to do
Sooner or later, one of us must know
That I really did try to get close to you


Lyrics submitted by D4kido

One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) Lyrics as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

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One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment

    This song really hit me when I heard it as somone contacting an ex, and declaring that eventually one of them is bound to realize that neither is to blame for the failed relationship. That they both tried and both loved each other.

    Fypaston August 31, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I got to say is that "when you whispered in my ear, and asked me if I was leavin' with you or her. I didn't realize just what I did hear. I didn't realize how young you were." is such a fantastic line. It really clicks with me and I love it......and in the liner notes you see a photo of a girl whispering in Bob's ear.

    serge_67on November 17, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Elephant Range mentioned that Bob sought to make his songs more versatile than specific. I think looking at it from a non-historical perspective, this song is about the author taking the virginity of a young girl without realizing it. It sounds like she was way more invested in the relationship than he, because she was young, inexperienced, and naive. He thought they would have just a fling and she thought they would last forever. I think she kept her virginity a secret: "But you said you knew an' I took your word" until after the deed, when she "told [him] later and [he] apologized." I think the refrain implies that the girl had to learn some time "You just did what you're supposed to do," and it might as well have been with him, as he actually did care about her when they had sex.

    kelmo328on March 03, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    I don’t know who this is about but I’m pretty certain what it’s about.

    The narrator is addressing an ex-girlfriend with whom he had what he thought was an ‘open’ relationship, and expressing his sorrow that he inadvertently hurt her. There is a mistake in the first verse here — it should read “when I saw you say goodbye to your friend and smile” — he thought she was in an ongoing relationship and just wanted an affair with him, whereas in fact she was leaving her previous partner to be with him.

    The second verse refers to their failure to communicate, where each makes an assumption about the other’s intentions (he that she knows he isn’t ‘serious’ about her, she that he is serious about her). The second part of the verse refers to an incident where the two of them are at a party and he leaves with someone else and breaks her heart. “Young” here means innocent, as opposed to the worldly sophisticate he took her for.

    The third verse is slightly less clear, but suggests that he couldn’t see how the relationship could continue, whereas she claimed to know what she was doing. “The farm” probably has a literal meaning but to me the metaphor suggests sex without commitment — again he’s saying she posed as a person who was in control of the situation and comfortable with casual encounters whereas in fact she was extremely vulnerable behind that façade. “Clawed out my eyes” refers to her jealous bitterness at the end of the relationship.

    The chorus says that he did love her in his own way, even though he didn’t want to spend his life with her, and that in the end she took refuge in the conventional, wanted a traditional marriage rather than ‘free love’ and became jealous and angry when this wasn’t on offer.

    I think it's one of Dylan's most heartfelt and beautiful songs.

    losttangoon February 12, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    I think this song is about Sedgwick:

    I didn't mean to treat you so bad You shouldn't take it so personal I didn't mean to make you so sad You just happened to be there, that's all

    It's really clear, in fact, he's saying sorry, but at same time excusing himself.

    When I saw you say "goodbye" to your friends and smile I thought that it was well understood That you'd be comin' back in a little while I didn't know that you were sayin' "goodbye" for good

    She said bye to Warhol and all his Factory for Bob, but he doesn't believe her, he tought she would come back to his friend and all this madness. But Edie really left all that behind for Dylan.

    But, sooner or later, one of us must know You just did what you're supposed to do Sooner or later, one of us must know That I really did try to get close to you

    We have tried but for some reason it hasn't worked, is not you blame or mine, but we must know that this isnt going anywhere, Edie.

    I couldn't see what you could show me Your scarf had kept your mouth well hid I couldn't see how you could know me But you said you knew me and I believed you did When you whispered in my ear And asked me if I was leavin' with you or her I didn't realize just what I did hear I didn't realize how young you were

    He couldn't see what she really was, and what she really feel, cause was in some aspects really superficial about her look and clothes, and he couldn't believe for sure she loves him. So he wasn't sure about her, cause she was so charming in many ways, but finally when they were close he forgot that and believe anything she said. Then I think is talking about Edie and Sara, they must had talk about that in some moment, and he was "blind" by her, even thinking about leaving Sara for a moment and just be for Edie. Now he see how blind he was, and how young she was for him.

    I couldn't see when it started snowin' Your voice was all that I heard I couldn't see where we were goin' But you said you knew an' I took your word And then you told me later, as I apologized That you were just kiddin' me, you weren't really from the farm An' I told you, as you clawed out my eyes That I never really meant to do you any harm

    He didn't see when things starts to get so bad, he was focus only in her. He trust her and expect her to take the situation. He says he's sorry but it had to be over, and she acts on the defensive, kidding him, but Bob knows she's broke, and feels sorry cause he didn't want her to feel that bad.

    bowiereedthingon June 11, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I think this song is about a girl that he (the narrator) has had a long relationship with, then he sinced it was ending (or started to have feelings for another girl.. or was cheating on her) so he broke up with her. Then she was so sad she killed herself. The chorus is kind of the narrator rationalizing his actions or looking at it from her side of the story.

    SMUSER17000263on October 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    --No wait. Scratch that. I think it's about a girl who had a strong crush on him and he didn't realize it. She tried to tell him, but he didn't hear her. (second verse) So she got so upset she killed herself.

    SMUSER17000263on October 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Please, brothers and sisters, answer me:

    What the fuck does "you weren't really from the farm" means????

    Anything. I'll even accept lies.

    cavernon February 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    It's a a leap to think suicide is part of the equation in this song: The phrase "goodbye for good" encompasses more possibilities than that. Dylan's songs became very general around this time - he was avoiding specifics so as to keep interpretative possibilities open & to avoid what he called the 'journalism' of his so-called 'protest' songs.

    This song is likely inspired by Edie Sedgwick, as is 'Just Like A Woman'. Cavern, the 'farm' ref reinforces this...just change 'farm' to 'Factory' (as in Warhol's talent 'farm'), and the song becomes - just possibly - another commentary on the shallowness of that scene.

    elephant_rangeon February 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Thanks, man! It doesn't matter if you're wrong. Now it makes sense. Finally!

    cavernon March 12, 2005   Link

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