Subterranean Homesick Blues

Bob Dylan

About Subterranean Homesick Blues

"Subterranean Homesick Blues" is a song by Bob Dylan, recorded on January 14, 1965, and released as a single by Columbia Records, catalogue number 43242, on March 8. It was the lead track on the album Bringing It All Back Home, released some two weeks later. It was Dylan's first Top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also entered the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart. The song has subsequently been reissued on numerous compilations, the first being the 1967 singles compilation Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits. One of Dylan's first electric recordings, "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is also notable for its innovative film clip, which first appeared in D. A. Pennebaker's documentary Dont Look Back. An acoustic version of the song, recorded the day before the single, was released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991.  


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Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he's got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doing it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin' for a new friend
A man in the coonskin cap, in the pig pen
Wants eleven dollar bills, you only got ten

Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D.A. Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes
Don't tie no bows
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows

Oh, get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Hang bail, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army, if you fail
Look out kid
You're gonna get hit
But losers, cheaters
Six-time users
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin' for a new fool
Don't follow leaders, watch the parkin' meters

Oh, get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance
Learn to dance, get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin'
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don't wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals
Don't want to be a bum
You better chew gum
The pump don't work
'Cause the vandals took the handles

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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan ( /ˈdɪlən/; born Robert Allen Zimmerman; May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, poet and artist. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan's early songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'", became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving his initial base in the culture of folk music behind, Dylan's six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone" has been described as radically altering the parameters of popular music in … more »

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Written by: BOB DYLAN

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

11 facts about this song

Song Creation
"Subterranean Homesick Blues" was penned by Bob Dylan in 1965. It became one of his earliest entries into electric rock music, breaking away from his folksy, acoustic roots.
The song was heavily influenced by the beat poets of the 1950s, particularly by Jack Kerouac's novel "The Subterraneans."
Popularity Ranking
"Subterranean Homesick Blues" was Dylan’s first Top 40 hit in the United States, reaching number 39 on the Billboard charts.
Music Video
The promotional film for this track was one of the first 'music videos' ever created. It is iconic for showing Dylan holding up cue cards with the song's lyrics, as random passersby stroll behind him.
Language Innovations
Dylan’s use of the phrase “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” in the song is credited with the naming of the radical left group The Weathermen, a faction of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
Cultural Impact
"Subterranean Homesick Blues" has been referenced in numerous forms of media, such as in films like "I'm Not There" and in songs like Radiohead's "Subterranean Homesick Alien".
Cover Versions
The band "Red Hot Chili Peppers" covered "Subterranean Homesick Blues" during their Mother's Milk Tour.
Lyric Interpretation
Although it has many interpretations, the song is often perceived as a snapshot of the chaotic and increasingly political society of the 1960s.
Release Details
The song was the lead track of Dylan's album "Bringing It All Back Home", released by Columbia Records.
Billboard Achievement
According to Billboard, the song entered the Hot 100 at No. 80 on the week of April 3, 1965, and peaked at No. 39 eight weeks later, becoming his first top 40 hit.
Notable Variation
Dylan often played a significantly different live version of the song during the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975.

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    Subterranean Homesick Blues

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    Top Hot 100 Songs 1965

    Billboard #39


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