There must be some kind of way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief
Business men they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
No one will level on the line
Nobody of it is worth

No reason to get excited
The thief he kindly spoke
There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I we've been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hour's getting late

All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Barefoot servants too
Outside in the cold distance
A wild cat did growl
Two riders were approaching
And the wind began to howl


Lyrics submitted by lzphishhead, edited by somacep4sc

All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover) song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

172 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +17
    General Comment

    Its funny how the joker is complaining to the thief that things are being stolen from him (businessmen drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth) and the thief is complaining to the joker that people don't take life seriously and complains about 'speaking falsely'. The two characters pretty much complain to each other about each other.

    Did no one else realize this connection? Thoughts?

    tragicallybobon February 06, 2009   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    this is my all time favorite jimi song, it just flows ya know? the lyrics are great too.

    UseYourIllusionon June 21, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    reasontorock.com/tracks/watchtower.html

    The page I linked to above is the REAL meaning about the song. It isn't about Jesus, and it isn't about Vietnam, at least, not directly. It is a fierce statement of disestablishmentarianism, of a conspiracy to bring down a powerful heirarchy.

    By the way, njrockstarbandit, don't be ignorant. The Vietnam War was NOT one of the worst of the century. WW1 was, followed by WW2 and various slaughters in Cambodia and Tibet.

    Anyway, this is a brilliant cover, and personally I believe it is the best rock song ever, beating even "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin.

    6th_sadistic_sniperon August 27, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    its about two real life people with human sin who have lived the life who toghether make the commitment to rise above their earthly limitations and watch out for, guard and love the truth.

    amen

    Soloon April 27, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Bob Dylan, typically, tends to be outstandingly cryptic in his lyrics. while others are just what they are.

    i tend to believe this song was connotated with Vietnam because it was going on at the time this song was released (originally on Dylan's LP "John Wesley Harding" in 1967)

    but what i actually believe the song is a story about society: the upper class being the Princes,

    the Joker and pregnant women being the Middle class and the Thief representing the Lower Class.

    i always thought the Thief's line when speaking to the Joker was a very peculiar one: "There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke."

    the Thief is telling the Joker, of all people, that nobody takes life seriously. was it a hint from the Thief to the Joker to stop screwing around? and make plans for escape?

    i'm still trying to figure that one out...

    roger wilcoon May 16, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Bob Dylan is probably one of my fravorite artisits and who wrote the orginal song, but dont forget who the legend is here. Hendix made this song visible to the world by his outstanding music. Sure the could be about vietnam and jesus, but I think its more about old times when people were sperated into rich and poor classes. The rich overwhem the poor and the the joker and the theft represent the poor and their hope, the watchtower is the only safe place for them.

    miketar_10on August 20, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Ok....you golks that say it is about Vietnam haven't shown any proof of your claims in the lyrics....

    If you are gonna call people "fucking wackos" at least give some backing for your claim.

    What, exactly, in the song says its about Vietnam, and don't just give me the "it was wrote during the Vietnam war" bs....

    I would agree more with the idea of it being about society.

    bigkufanon March 09, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    so what you're all basically saying is that this song is about phildelphia eagles, defending his lyrics, and albertus being a prick. thanks, it's all so clear. woohoo. I'm glad i wasted my life reading that.

    joAKAmegalomaniacon October 30, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I've noticed a large pattern on this site, in regards to common themes that people tend to think songs fit into. The big obvious one is religion, the other being the big social context of whatever period the song was written in. For the 60's and 70's every song is apparently about Vietnam, and for our current decade they're all reputably about 9-11, George Bush or the Iraq war. For some, this may be completely true and absolutely the case, but I have a hard time believing 90% of all songs ever made are either about Jebus or the then current/recent war.

    With a song like this I can see how it would be easy to think its about Vietnam. Hell, until I really looked at the lyrics I would have agreed with you. The first four lines ("There must be some kind of way out of here", ext.) sound a lot like a statement on Vietnam. But if you get locked into that train of thought right off the bat then you're going to have to really stretch the rest of the lyrics to make it fit.

    Granted, I don't know what its about. And hell, it might be about religion or Vietnam. But if you're gonna make the claim, you need more than one or two lines that sorta-kinda-maybe-could-be about your theory. I'm not trying to insult anyone here, and no offense is meant, but please try not to jump to conclusions so damn fast.

    TheGassyGunslingeron November 14, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I know that Jimi was the one who made this song a BIG one, but I prefer the Original and about the two last lines in first stanza, I can't say clearly what Jimi says but I think we must accept the dylan's part ("None of them along the line, Know what any of it worth"), because he wrote the song and knew why it must be like this

    Paymaanon December 04, 2013   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Show Me a Little Shame
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
He certainly did earn that reputation.
Album art
The Spy
Doors, The
Like a lot of the other comments are saying, I think this mainly about voyeurism. If the song was about his girlfriend, then why would he use the word spy. If you are a spy it means you shouldn't be caught, that is kind of the whole point, and if you are a voyeur, the whole point of the pleasure you get from it, is the fact that the other people don't know you are watching them. See a bit of a connection there?
Album art
The Night We Met
Lord Huron
This is a hauntingly beautiful song about introspection, specifically about looking back at a relationship that started bad and ended so poorly, that the narrator wants to go back to the very beginning and tell himself to not even travel down that road. I believe that the relationship started poorly because of the lines: "Take me back to the night we met:When the night was full of terrors: And your eyes were filled with tears: When you had not touched me yet" So, the first night was not a great start, but the narrator pursued the relationship and eventually both overcame the rough start to fall in love with each other: "I had all and then most of you" Like many relationships that turn sour, it was not a quick decline, but a gradual one where the narrator and their partner fall out of love and gradually grow apart "Some and now none of you" Losing someone who was once everything in your world, who you could confide in, tell your secrets to, share all the most intimate parts of your life, to being strangers with that person is probably one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. So Painful, the narrator wants to go back in time and tell himself to not even pursue the relationship. This was the perfect song for "13 Reasons Why"
Album art
Holiday
Bee Gees
@[Diderik:33655] "Your a holiday!" Was a popular term used in the 50s/60s to compliment someone on their all around. For example, not only are they beautiful, but they are fun and kind too ... just an all around "holiday". I think your first comment is closer to being accurate. The singer/song writers state "Millions of eyes can see, yet why am i so blind!? When the someone else is me, its unkind its unkind". I believe hes referring to the girl toying with him and using him. He wants something deeper with her, thats why he allows himself to be as a puppet (even though for her fun and games) as long as it makes her happy. But he knows deep down that she doesnt really want to be serious with him and thats what makes him.
Album art
Mountain Song
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell gives Adam Reader some heartfelt insight into Jane’s Addiction's hard rock manifesto "Mountain Song", which was the second single from their revolutionary album Nothing's Shocking. Mountain song was first recorded in 1986 and appeared on the soundtrack to the film Dudes starring Jon Cryer. The version on Nothing's Shocking was re-recorded in 1988. "'Mountain Song' was actually about... I hate to say it but... drugs. Climbing this mountain and getting as high as you can, and then coming down that mountain," reveals Farrell. "What it feels to descend from the mountain top... not easy at all. The ascension is tough but exhilarating. Getting down is... it's a real bummer. Drugs is not for everybody obviously. For me, I wanted to experience the heights, and the lows come along with it." "There's a part - 'Cash in now honey, cash in Miss Smith.' Miss Smith is my Mother; our last name was Smith. Cashing in when she cashed in her life. So... she decided that, to her... at that time, she was desperate. Life wasn't worth it for her, that was her opinion. Some people think, never take your life, and some people find that their life isn't worth living. She was in love with my Dad, and my Dad was not faithful to her, and it broke her heart. She was very desperate and she did something that I know she regrets."