Everything went from bad to worse
Money never changed a thing
Death kept followin', trackin' us down
At least I heard your bluebird sing
Now somebody's got to show their hand
Time is an enemy
I know you're long gone
I guess it must be up to me

If I'd thought about it I never would've done it
I guess I would've let it slide
If I'd-a paid attention to what others were thinkin'
The heart inside me would've died
But I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity
Someone had to reach for the risin' star
I guess it was up to me

Oh, the union central is pullin' out
The orchids are in bloom
I've only got me one good shirt left and it smells of stale perfume
In fourteen months I've only smiled once and I didn't do it consciously
Somebody's got to find your trail
I guess it must be up to me

It was like a revelation
When you betrayed me with your touch
I'd just about convinced myself nothin' had changed that much
The old rounder in the iron mask he slipped me the master key
Somebody had to unlock your heart, he said it was up to me

Now I watched you slowly disappear down into the officers' club
I would've followed you in the door but I didn't have a ticket stub
So I waited all night 'til the break of day, hopin' one of us could get free
When the dawn came over the river bridge
I knew it was up to me

The only decent thing I did when I worked as a postal clerk
Was to haul your picture down off the wall near the cage where I used to work
Was I a fool or not to try to protect your real identity?
You looked a little burned out, my friend
I thought it might be up to me

I met somebody face to face and I had to remove my hat
She's everything I need and love but I can't be swayed by that
It frightens me, the awful truth of how sweet life can be
But she ain't a-gonna make me move, I guess it must be up to me

Now we heard the sermon on the mount and I knew it was too complex
It didn't amount to anything more than what the broken glass reflects
When you bite off more than you can chew you pay the penalty
Somebody's got to tell the tale
I guess it must be up to me

Dupree came in pimpin' tonight to the Thunderbird cafe
Crystal wanted to talk to him, I had to look the other way
Now, I just can't rest without your love, I need your company
But you ain't a-gonna cross the line
I guess it must be up to me

There's a note left in the bottle, you can give it to Estelle
She's the one you been wond'rin' about, but there's really nothin' much to tell
We both heard voices for a while, now the rest is history
Somebody's got to cry some tears
I guess it must be up to me

So go on, boys, and play your hands, life is a pantomime
The ringleaders from the county seat say you don't have all that much time
And the girl with me behind the shades, she ain't my property
One of us has got to hit the road
I guess it must be up to me

If we never meet again, baby, remember me
How my lone guitar played sweet for you that old-time melody
And the harmonica around my neck, I blew it for you free
No one else could play that tune, you know it was up to me

Lyrics submitted by NewLibertine, edited by Mellow_Harsher, smallwonderrobot

Up to Me Lyrics as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Up to Me song meanings
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  • +1
    General Comment
    This song is undoubtedly cool. It seems like such an interesting story, but so often when it comes to Bob Dylan's songs... I don't quite get it. Anybody have any ideas on the actual plot of this song? I like trying to piece it together. It seems like she's on the run, a lawbreaker. He decides to help her, thinking the laws are ridiculous and he can aide her getaway, or something. (The whole enforced insanity bit.) But eventually they're seperated. Te tries to resume a normal life while she keeps hiding out, but he can't stop thinking about her. Even when he meets someone else who SHOULD be perfect for him ("everything I need in love, but I can't be swayed by that") he can't get her picture out of his mind. So maybe after that, after doing some thinking... the Sermon on the Mount, maybe?... and deciding the whole thing is too complex, he chooses to just try to find her, despite the complications that may ensue. And he goes around the old kinda places where she'd hang out, the seedy bars like the Thunderbird Cafe, and observes the old crowd, or something. And then maybe he sees her, but she's just another floozy in the bar. She doesn't even recognize him; he has to look the other way. He tries to pass a message to her, but decides there "isn't that much to tell," since she's not his property. Then he's gone, knowing they'll probably never cross paths again, imploring her to remember the sacrifices he made. Haha. That's an extremely hazy, sketchy interpretation of this song... quite a poor analysis, I know. But that's the general feeling I get from it.
    porcupinegloveson February 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    so beautiful, definately should've been on blood on the tracks (although since it isnt it's kind of like a personal, staggering dylan gem that not everyone knows about, so i like that too)
    NewLibertineon April 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    One of Dylan's famously brilliantly songs that got left of his albums for much inferior work. This is one of the finest songs he ever wrote, so sad, so sweet. 'I met somebody face to face/I had to remove my hat/She's everything I need in love/But I can't be swayed by that/It frightens me, the awful truth/Of how sweet life can be' is just one of his best lyrics ever. Lyrical, haunting, beautiful.
    atroposon January 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    to me, this is definately an autobiographical song. This second stanza encapsulates this perfectly; If I'd thought about it I never would've done it, I guess I would've let it slide, If I'd lived my life by what others were thinkin', the heart inside me would've died. I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity, Someone had to reach for the risin' star, I guess it was up to me. Dylan's switch from folk revivalist, 'voice of a generation', protest song figurehead, to his decision of going electric and arguably the first 'punk rocker' is summed up in this verse. Dylan couldn't allow himself to be "ever be governed by enforced insanity" or living his life by what others were thinking - being pinned down to just being a folk, and more specifically, socialist singer and hence, "someone had to reach for the risin' star, I guess it was up to me" - his break from folk to electric. Not was it just the musical gulf Dylan tried to expand, but also the political one. Dylan felt he was being used by left-wingers as a form of propaganda for the youth, 'hip to be left'. Overall, Dylan has jokingly always referred to himself as a 'song and dance man' - never to be used as a 'pawn in their game', (in this instance he concedes, "When you bite off more than you can chew you gotta pay the penalty"; another reference to him being mixed up in socialist affairs, and having a bigger impact that intended or expected). The song is essentially about him looking back on what he was once percieved as and how wrong the people making these interpretations really got it, he looks back on his past from an out of body experience referring to himself as 'friend' - "Was I a fool or not to try to protect your identity? You looked a little burned out, my friend, I thought it might be up to me." and finally concludes that after all this it is up to himself to interpret these things he has said, not any one else. Easily my favourite Dylan song.
    ljw1941on March 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation
    ALLEGORY: An extended metaphor in which the characters, places, and objects in a narrative carry figurative meaning. Often an allegory's meaning is religious, moral, or historical in nature. ALLUSIONs are generally regarded as brief but purposeful references, within a literary text, to a person, place, event, or to another work of literature. A SYMBOL is a person, object, place, event, or action that suggests more than its literal meaning. difference between a SIGN and a SYMBOL? Signs and symbols are pictures that represent something and have a meaning. Signs always have a clear meaning often giving information or an instruction. Symbols also represent something but you need some knowledge to understand what the symbol represents. THIs work of ART incorporates some, perhaps ALL these means to impart less than obvious meaning. Not unlike the BIBLE! "Bad to Worse"= way of the world DEATH = SIN (Satan) BLUEBIRDs are considered messengers of love and joy. In CHRISTIANITY, the bluebird meaning in the bible is that these birds are angels in disguise. They act as messengers from the realm of the Gods, sent by our guardian angels to deliver an important message to people on Earth. These lyrics are that MESSAGE! "Show their Hand"= true belief. "You're long Gone= JESUS CHRIST= Heart /SOUL "Enforced Insanity"=human HUBRIS (the CHURCH) "Rising Star"=In this context to be understood as the morning star, the light whose rising signifies Christ's birth, however can be interpreted as "Light Bringer" a la LUCIFER. "Union Central"= Mass miss-interpretations leaving. "Orchids now in bloom"= the perfect bloom to celebrate all of life's precious moments (Birth of Christ). "Find your trail"= the WAY! I hafta rest before continuing, but I'll be back!
    Mrrssyon May 28, 2023   Link

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