Well, the neighborhood bully, he's just one man
His enemies say he's on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He got no place to escape to, no place to run
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully he just lives to survive
He's criticized and condemned for being alive
He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin
He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
He's wandered the earth an exiled man
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
He's always on trial for just being born
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, the chances are against it, and the odds are slim
That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him
'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he got no allies to really speak of
What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love
He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease
Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly. To hurt one they would weep
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep
He's the neighborhood bully.
Every empire that's enslaved him is gone
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon
He's made a garden of paradise in the desert sand
In bed with nobody, under no one's command
He's the neighborhood bully.

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon
No contract that he signed was worth that what it was written on
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health
He's the neighborhood bully.

What's anybody indebted to him for?
Nothing, they say. He just likes to cause war
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed
They wait for this bully like a dog waits for feed
He's the neighborhood bully.

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers? Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
Running out the clock, time standing still
Neighborhood bully.

Lyrics submitted by Philadelphia Eagles

Neighborhood Bully Lyrics as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Neighborhood Bully song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentExcelent song. One of Bob Dylans' most astute political songs. It speaks eloquently about the racist demonization of Israel so fashionable. As some of the comments here reveal, people are hostile to a proud Jew. Well done robert Zimmerman!
    Moshe55on September 29, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentBeautiful. This song is about Jews, and Israel; always being hated for being different than everybody else, with all societies they were part of projecting their own hate and violence on them (hateful people would describe Israel as the neighborhood bully, while it's actually a peaceful victim in almost every situation...)

    The people that contributed most to world culture, science, art, medicine (Dylan himself is Jewish; the cell phones and computer processors you are using were engineered by Israelis), and are being hated and demonized for racial and cultural reasons - scapegoating at its best.

    This song depicts it very well. Everybody else take their anger out on him, and he's considered a bully...
    ddeighton May 27, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentum, no. The song is a quite transparent apologia for Israel. Dylan's nutty Semitic chauvinism is at its peak here. As distasteful as I find that, I must say this song really rocks.
    DJacques75on October 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just read that. What a lame lyric. I'm not criticizing his one-sided point of view, I'm criticizing his complete lack of ...wit...depth...originality...it doesn't seem a song written by the genious of Dylan. We could be talking about his worst lyrics here - well, maybe God gave name to all the animals is even worse
    cavernon March 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah... neighborhood bully= the state of Israel. Say whatever you will, the music and words are incredibly powerful.

    To me, it brings back days of being a political college student in the days of Reaganomics... young, liberal, & full of idealism. (Hey, wait a minute... I'm still in school [grad... getting my MSW], I'm still verrrry liberal, and STILL filled with idealistic hope & plans... but I now have a daughter almost as old as I was when this album was a big part of my life. And Israel & Palestine are still in the same positions they were 20 years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
    charvanaon April 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt is about Israel, the lyrics are ironic.
    bugmenoton December 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNot just the state of Israel but Israel meaning the Jews as well..
    bugmenoton December 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcavern, some of the lyrics are a bit forced, but compared to "Property of Jesus"? or "Wiggle Wiggle"? Let's not be too hard on him here!
    DJacques75on February 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHow are these lyrics showing lack of wit or depth?

    They do just the opposite.

    Disagree with the opinions, but the lyrics show plenty of wit.

    I think the response to his lyrics here showed just how right they were.
    JCool333on February 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMay I remind you all that Bob Dylan is Jewish
    firebird17139on May 22, 2007   Link

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