Oh, sister, when I come to lie in your arms
You should not treat me like a stranger
Our Father would not like the way that you act
And you must realize the danger

Oh, sister, am I not a brother to you
And one deserving of affection
And is our purpose not the same on this earth
To love and follow his direction

We grew up together
From the cradle to the grave
We died and were reborn
And then mysteriously saved

Oh, sister, when I come to knock on your door
Don't turn away, you'll create sorrow
Time is an ocean but it ends at the shore
You may not see me tomorrow

Lyrics submitted by dante's_inferno, edited by Mellow_Harsher

Oh, Sister Lyrics as written by Jacques Levy Bob Dylan

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Oh, Sister song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment"father" could be god. so sister could really mean any women.
    also "Time is an ocean but it ends at the shore. You may not see me tomorrow." is a perfect combination of words.
    hollyohon April 18, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThis song is about forgiveness. " To lie in your arms " is a death bed reference.

    He is asking for forgiveness not only for his sake but for hers. It is just as much a sin to hold a heard heart against your brother as whatever he did to make the relationship die. However terrible a thing he has done, they are " mysteriously saved"

    He has repented his sin and now it is she who is still in danger. How will she be judged by the Father if she holds on to her anger and refuses to forgive his "trespasses" against her.?

    You nor the songwriter need to believe in religion, just the character Dylan creates as the singer.

    When he asks is he "not deserving of affection" he is really just reminding her of how she feels about him in her heart and the sorrow she will create if she waits until after his passing to forgive him. We journey through life across an ocean but one day we reach our final destination on shore. Then she will " not see him tomorrow".
    easy for me to say as I have lived this.
    Sparadinotteon January 14, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti love the last line
    meursaultsrevolveron April 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think he's using religious excuses to take a girl to bed...
    you know, like "hey, don't you know we gotta LOVE each other?"
    cavernon July 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhen playing this at 'The World Of John Hammond', 10th September 1975, Dylan states 'I wanna dedicate this to someone out there watching tonight, I know, she knows who she is'.

    Dylan didn't have any sister's right? Who was this dedicated to?
    KazeUKon July 20, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMaybe it was just a friend he'd asked for help which wasn't given... Maybe except for the "love and follow His direction" I think most people can agree with this song. We're all humans, all deserving the same respect and it's our obligation to respond when someone's knocking on our door...
    Megairaon December 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI think this is still a song about his relationship to Sarah. At this point in time he was not divorced yet, but they weren't living together either.´
    People who have been abandoned by their partner, whom they still love, will probably recognize what he is saying. There is a period where you still hope your partner re-thinks the decision and all will go back to "normal".

    => "Oh sister when I come to lie in your arms You should not treat me like a stranger"

    You even feel so power-drained by this bad status quo, that you try to proof your intentions are pure and you believe that even God would expect the other to recognize and value that. Not receiving warmth back by your attempts to save your relationship feels like the other is doing you wrong on purpose.

    => "Our Father would not like the way that you act"

    You also feel that if you want to save your relationship, you have to get back to a situation where love is answered with love. If not, the relationship will surely and finally break apart.

    => "And you must realize the danger."

    Finally I think he refers to his motor bike accident, after which he focussed fully on his family for an extended period. This was for him like dying and being reborn. Perhaps he even believed that God wanted him to save his marriage. Cradle and grave stands for the beginning and the end of his relationship.

    => "We grew up together From the cradle to the grave We died and were reborn And then mysteriously saved."

    At the end he might even express a threat of committing suicide as is in the heads of many people who are being abandoned by their partner whom they love.

    => "Time is an ocean but it ends at the shore You may not see me tomorrow."
    ahiemstraon September 24, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAlmost certainly about humanity!
    Detectiveon April 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think he's talking about religion rather than humanity. he's talking about the common purpose of all religions and asking for a stop to all the conflicts between them.

    i think the last line is the best in the song. bob dylan is an amazing poet!!
    Ereinionon June 13, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentKaze, I have seen that video and I always assumed he was referring to either sara or joan baez.
    I think this song is simply about forgiveness from somebody you love. Several times in dylan's hardcore drug phase, like during 1975, he had offended both sara and Joan Baez several times but he was close with both of them so this song could have easily have been inspired by either of them.
    I disagree with anything about using religion to get sex from a girl, dylan is not that shallow and that was a stupid thing to post...
    StallionintheRift12on February 21, 2008   Link

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