Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Perfect Songs - It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

It's alright ma

Last night, the country demonstrated just how divided and seemingly hopeless we are. At least half the country voted against their own self interests for a guy that cares about only himself. We can continue to tell our kids that hard work, empathy, respect and acceptance are values to live up to - that these are the true path to success - but now, more than ever, the opposite has been demonstrated on a large scale. This is not about disagreements in policy or anything so quaint. My feelings on this are way too complex to put into words. At least not my own words.

This is not just one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, but over the last 10 or so years, whenever the shit's hit the fan on a global scale, "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" is the one I always go back to. This morning on the way to work, I played it on repeat the whole way. It's both cynical and hopeful and ultimately realistic. It's prophetic and comforting in it's acceptance of disillusion with, well, everything, while at the same time suggesting, ever so slightly, that the way forward is in the small, day to day living of life (and life, only). Anyway, here are the entire lyrics and may we all find something in it to tell our kids.

It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
by Bob Dylan

 Darkness at the break of noon
 Shadows even the silver spoon
 The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
 Eclipses both the sun and moon
 To understand you know too soon
 There is no sense in trying

 Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
 Suicide remarks are torn
 From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
 Plays wasted words, proves to warn
 That he not busy being born is busy dying

 Temptation’s page flies out the door
 You follow, find yourself at war
 Watch waterfalls of pity roar
 You feel to moan but unlike before
 You discover that you’d just be one more
 Person crying

 So don’t fear if you hear
 A foreign sound to your ear
 It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing

 As some warn victory, some downfall
 Private reasons great or small
 Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
 To make all that should be killed to crawl
 While others say don’t hate nothing at all
 Except hatred

 Disillusioned words like bullets bark
 As human gods aim for their mark
 Make everything from toy guns that spark
 To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
 It’s easy to see without looking too far
 That not much is really sacred

 While preachers preach of evil fates
 Teachers teach that knowledge waits
 Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
 Goodness hides behind its gates
 But even the president of the United States
 Sometimes must have to stand naked

 An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
 It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
 And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it

 Advertising signs they con
 You into thinking you’re the one
 That can do what’s never been done
 That can win what’s never been won
 Meantime life outside goes on
 All around you

 You lose yourself, you reappear
 You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
 Alone you stand with nobody near
 When a trembling distant voice, unclear
 Startles your sleeping ears to hear
 That somebody thinks they really found you

 A question in your nerves is lit
 Yet you know there is no answer fit
 To satisfy, insure you not to quit
 To keep it in your mind and not forget
 That it is not he or she or them or it
 That you belong to

 Although the masters make the rules
 For the wise men and the fools
 I got nothing, Ma, to live up to

 For them that must obey authority
 That they do not respect in any degree
 Who despise their jobs, their destinies
 Speak jealously of them that are free
 Cultivate their flowers to be
 Nothing more than something they invest in

 While some on principles baptized
 To strict party platform ties
 Social clubs in drag disguise
 Outsiders they can freely criticize
 Tell nothing except who to idolize
 And then say God bless him

 While one who sings with his tongue on fire
 Gargles in the rat race choir
 Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
 Cares not to come up any higher
 But rather get you down in the hole
 That he’s in

 But I mean no harm nor put fault
 On anyone that lives in a vault
 But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him

 Old lady judges watch people in pairs
 Limited in sex, they dare
 To push fake morals, insult and stare
 While money doesn’t talk, it swears
 Obscenity, who really cares
 Propaganda, all is phony

 While them that defend what they cannot see
 With a killer’s pride, security
 It blows the minds most bitterly
 For them that think death’s honesty
 Won’t fall upon them naturally
 Life sometimes must get lonely

 My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
 Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
 At pettiness which plays so rough
 Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
 Kick my legs to crash it off
 Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

 And if my thought-dreams could be seen
 They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
 But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only

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