Bob Dylan’s Dream


I’m not a huge fan of Bob Dylan’s Dream: the lyrics border on the maudlin and sentimental.

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of the morn.

The tune and part of the lyrics are based on the traditional Lord Franklin. More specifically, Dylan based it on Martin McCarthy’s version of Lord Franklin. The lyrics are provided below. The similarities are obvious.

It was homeward bound one night on the deep,
Swinging in my hammock I fell asleep:
I dreamed a dream and I thought it true,
Concerning Franklin and his gallant crew.

With one hundred seamen he sailed away
To the frozen ocean in the month of May,
To seek that passage around the pole
Where we poor sailors do sometimes go.

Through cruel hardships his men did go,
His ship on mountains of ice was drove –
Where the Eskimo in his skin canoe
Was the only one who ever came through.

In Baffin Bay where the whale fish blow,
The fate of Franklin no man may know,
The fate of Franklin no tongue can tell –
Lord Franklin along with his sailors do dwell.

And now my burden it gives me pain –
For my long-lost Franklin I would cross the main,
Ten thousand pounds would I freely give,
To know on earth that my Franklin do live.

Dylan played it on a regular basis during his 1991 tour.

Skip to the 24:55 mark. Weirdly, the song morphs into It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding.  

Judy Collins with Pete Seeger, on his Rainbow Quest public TV show.

Bryan Ferry’s take.


While riding on a train goin’ west,
I fell asleep for to take my rest.
I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of the morn.

By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
Our words were told, our songs were sung,
Where we longed for nothin’ and were quite satisfied
Talkin’ and a-jokin’ about the world outside.

With haunted hearts through the heat and cold,
We never thought we could ever get old.
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one.

As easy it was to tell black from white,
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.
And our choices were few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split.

How many a year has passed and gone
And many a gamble has been lost and won
And many a road taken by many a friend
And each one I’ve never seen again

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
That we could sit simply in that room again
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that

6 thoughts on “Bob Dylan’s Dream”

  1. Like so many holy rivers some of the lines in Bob Dylan’s songs are deep. For instance, the first line in “Bob Dylan’s Dream” states that he is riding on: “…a train going West…” I don’t believe Dylan intentionally did this but when I hear the song I think of how the West (in Irish pagan culture) represents the land of death; as , certainly, the West – “the Beautiful West” – stood for The Land of the Dead in ancient Egyptian thought. In one sense the narrator of the song is riding on a train going to the physical west yet he’s poetically going towards Eternity itself and contemplating a flash of his existence…Ultimately the narrator accepts the fact that he can never go back to his past. Our life, as Marcel Proust wrote and Dylan so brilliantly expresses, is a sacred gift that we can never repeat…

  2. His name is Martin Dominic Forbes Carthy, called Martin Carthy,  according to wikipedia ‘one of the most influential figures in British traditional music’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top