Back to song list

The Band - I Shall Be Released - Lyrics Meaning

Played by the Band but written by Bob Dylan some have speculated that `I Shall Be Released' Deals with the death penalty. It is easy to see how they have drawn this conclusion with lyrics like:

`I remember ev'ry face

Of ev'ry man who put me here'

These assumptions however fitting are not actually correct. Robert Shelton shed light on the meanings of the song in his biography `No Direction Home'. Dylan was struggling with his acceptance in the music industry. After a motorcycle accident he had received bad reviews and even been booed by audiences. The `men' he talks of who put him there are the audiences members who propelled him to fame and then withdrew support carelessly.

A release is in Dylan's eyes only fulfilled upon an exit from the earth but the last question for him is whether he will be replaced? (`They say every man can be replaced') He is also questioning himself looking his own personal justification and salvation. `Standing next to me in this lonely crowd,

Is a man who swears he's not to blame' refers to himself.

Dylan was in a time of deep reflection and deep questioning and this stripped back gospel feel is conveyed in the songs smooth but bitter lyrics.

Visit Music Banter - The Internet's Top Music Community

Add your own interpretation and discuss lyrics of this song: