See copyright notice at

Talkin' Devil With Bob Dylan

By Bert Cartwright
(The Telegraph #49, summer 1994)

In early 1963, Bob Dylan recorded a song for Broadside titled "Talkin'
Devil". He introduced it by saying: "This is all about where the Devil
is. Some people say there is no Devil." Although the song is of questionable
quality and was never performed again, it set forth a conviction about the
crucial importance of the Devil in this world to which Dylan has adhered
all his life.

The song opens by alluding to the demonic nature of the Ku Klux Klan:

  Well, sometimes you can't see him so good
  When he hides his head 'neath a snow white hood...

The second verse gives fuller dimension to the nature of the Devil:

  Well, he wants you to hate and he wants you to fear,
  Wants you to fear something that's not even there,
  He'll give you your hate and he'll give you his lies,
  He'll give you the weapons to run out and die.
  And you give him your soul [1]

Here, in these early lines, Dylan delineates the chief characteristics of
the Devil which he will go on to describe in vivid detail in his
compositions down the y ears. The Devil is the masters of deceit and
illusion who "gets you to fear something that's no even there." He is the
power of death who would delude you into trading your soul for false

That same year, Dylan composed another song about the Devil titled "Watcha
Gonna Do", which centres upon the shadow of death coming under one's
door, and he asks:

  Tell me what you're gonna do
  When the devil calls your cards.
  O Lord, O Lord,
  What shall you do?

The Devil's ultimate weapon is death - his ultimate power. The power of
the Devil is never far from Dylan's mind. It is a haunting presupposition
of all he sings. Although his fullest expression of the power and the
influence of the Devil was made most clear during Dylan's "born again"
period beginning in late 1978, these early descriptions help to illuminate
other references to the Devil and his works prior to and subsequent to
that period.

In seeking to understand how the Devil functions in Dylan's world view, it
is helpful to examine first his fulsome descriptions at the time of his
turning in faith to Jesus Christ, when accompanying his newly professed
faith in Christ was a heightened awareness of the power of the Devil.

Dylan's raps delivered as introductions to his songs performed in 1979 and
1980 serve to re-introduce us to the Devil. The thrust of his message is
that the Devil has usurped ownership of this world from its Creator God.
Quite literally, God no longer owns the world. It belongs to the Devil.
"Well, let me tell you that the Devil owns this world." Dylan declared
at Tempe on November 26, 1979. "He is called the 'god' of this world." [2]

This theme is expanded in other rap introductions during the tour. Although
the Bible in various places may make some fine distinctions between various
forms of evil powers, for Dylan, the Devil has various names which are all
roughly equivalent. In this he follows the understanding offered in the
Book of Revelations, which explains:

  And war broke out in heave; Michael and his angels fought against the
  dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated,
  and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon
  was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan,
  the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth, and his
  angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:7-9, NRSV)

In Montreal, Dylan explained: "They keys of the world were give to someone
called Lucifer. That old song about Lucifer - he's still around, the prince
of the power of the air, the serpent; he's a spiritual being. You can't
see him, but he can control you. He'll want to destroy you." [3] How did
Lucifer obtain the keys to the world? Dylan alludes to this in his song,
"Pressing On", from "Saved" (1980):

  ..Adam given the Devil reign
  Because he sinned, I got no choice
  It run in my vein

As a part of his introductory rap to this song at Buffalo on May 1, 1980,
Dylan explained: "So if you're a descendant of Adam - anybody here a
descendant of Adam? Well, Adam got those keys (to Paradise) offa you, and
Jesus Christ went to the cross to get those keys back." [4]

For Dylan, the Devil is the pre-eminent spiritual force at work in the
world perverting and distorting all existence. There is nothing beyond
the Devils' control. In matters of the world, the Devil holds absolute
sway. As Dylan says in "Talkin' Devil", the Devil works primarily though
deceit - the misrepresentation of what is real and true. This was the thrust
of Dylan's rap in Pittsburgh when, on May 15, 1980, he said in referring to
the snake in "Man Gave Names To All The Animals" (1979): "The animal there,
in case you haven't guessed, was a snake - the same snake that was in the
Garden Of Eden. The same snake that was Satan, Lucifer, god of this world,
Prince of the power of the air. That's the same snake. Just like he was
out deceiving Eve, he's out there deceiving us right now." [5] To deceive
is to mislead, delude, trick, fool, cheat, swindle, defraud. Since the
Devil is god of this world, then the world itself is misled, deluded,
tricked, fooled, cheated, swindled, defrauded.

This is the state of Dylan's world - a world in which the Devil has
distorted all reality within the scope of human time. The present world
is one of illusion. This is made most clear in Dylan's "Gates Of Eden"
(1965). Once the conniving snake has deceived Adam and Eve, they are
thrust out from the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 2:9, 17) into a world of
utter distortion where the "kingdoms of Experience" rot in "the precious
wind." Dylan concludes, "And there are no truths outside the Gates of
Eden." Life is lived East of Eden where the Devil is the god of this
illusory world.

Dylan spells out the illusory nature of the Devil in an interview with
Ron Rosenbaum in March, 1978. [6] Rosenbaum, alluding to the Devil's
ultimate weapon of death, asks, "When you're on stage, do you feel the
illusion that death can't get you?" Dylan replies: "Death can't get you
at all. Death's not here to get anybody. It's the appearance of the Devil,
and the Devil is a coward, so knowledge will overcome that." When asked to
expand on what he has said, Dylan explained: "The Devil is everything false.
The Devil will go as deep as you let the Devil go. You can leave yourself
open to that. If you understand what that whole scene is about, you can
easily step aside. But if you want the confrontation to being with, well,
there's plenty of it. But then again, if you believe you have a purpose and
a mission, and not much time to carry it out, you don't bother about those

Astutely observing that Dylan in some way relating his own "purpose and
mission" to the work of the Devil, Rosenbaum pursuingly asks: "Do you think
you have a purpose and a mission?" When Dylan answers, "Obviously," the
question is asked, "What is it?" Dylan replied: "Henry Miller said it: The
role of an artist is to inoculate the world with disillusionment."

Dylan has perceived his "purpose and mission" in life to break through
the illusory world of the Devil. To inoculate is to introduce the virus
of a disease into a system so as to immunise or cure. Dylan would restore
the world to a true self-understanding by inoculating it with
disillusionment. More specifically, Dylan saw his mission to be that of
disillusioning people - disengaging them from their illusory world.

This has been the genius of Dylan's songs. They are bent upon the task
of breaking through the illusions of society to a transcendent reality.
Fourteen years earlier, in 1964, Dylan had expressed a similar artistic
"purpose and mission" in his poem sequence "11 Outlined Epitaphs" (1964):

  "I am ragin'ly against absolutely
  everything that wants t'force nature
  t'be unnatural (be it human or otherwise)
  an' I am violently for absolutely
  everything that will fight those
  forces (be them human or otherwise)"

There is at least a hint here that the struggle has to do with supra
human powers for good or ill.

This mission becomes more explicit in a song like "It's Alright, Ma (I'm
Only Bleeding)" (1965) in which he says:

  Disillusioned words like bullets bark
  As human gods aim for their mark

He continues this purpose as with Rimbaud he seeks, in the words of John
Wells, "to achieve poetic visions which would loosen the moorings of
ordinary consciousness through the dissolution of ordinary reality." [7]
The result is viewing life as it is lived out on Highway 61 or:

  As Lady and I look out tonight
  From Desolation Row

It is a world where the Devil creates mixed-up confusion. This is how the
Devil is described in "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again"
(1966) which begins:

  Oh, the ragman draws circles
  Up and down the block

Robert Shelton quotes a conversation with Dylan in which he seems clearly
to regard "the ragman" as being Satan, the keeper of hell. [8]

As Dylan indicated to Rosenbaum, the artist's task is "confrontation." This
is consistent with Dylan's often spoken rap allusion to the Bible's dictum:
"Resist the Devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7, KJV) Since the
Devil is "a coward", Dylan believed "knowledge will overcome it."

Just what this "knowledge" consists of Dylan does not make clear. This is a
particularly difficult problem when "there are no truths" to be had in the
world dominated by the Devil. Dylan would seem to claim that it is the
artist who has knowledge that is uncontaminated by the Devil. Just why the
artist is exempt from the wiles of the Devil is not made clear.

That Dylan does take this mission seriously is apparent from his comments
relating to his composing the songs that appeared on the album "John Wesley
Harding" (1968). In his 1978 Rolling Stone interview, Dylan stated: "John
Wesley Harding was a fearful album - just dealing with fear (laughing), but
dealing with the devil in a fearfuI way, almost. All I wanted to do was to
get the words right. It was courageous to do it because I could have not
done it, too." [9]

These comments indicate the seriousness with which Dylan took his mission
of resisting the illusions of the Devil with a resolute determination to
"get the words right." They also reveal Dylan's own fearfulness engendered
by an eyeball confrontation with the Devil. As Dylan observed of the Devil
in Talkin' Devil:

  Well, he wants you to hate and he wants you to fear,
  Wants you to fear something that's not even there...

It is clear that in composing the songs of "John Wesley Harding", Dylan
felt himself in the grips of the Devil and struggled to overcome the Devil's
illusory fears. The album is characterised by a high level of concentration,
seeking to confront the Devil with a knowledge that will break his power.

The whole of "John Wesley Harding" is best interpreted within the context of
this struggle of Dylan with the Devil. While a detailed analysis of "John
Wesley Harding" from this perspective is beyond the scope of this essay of
how this album struggles with the Devil may be indicated.

"As I Went Out One Morning" has all the marks of the Devil working through

  ...the fairest damsel
  That ever did walk in chains.

She is a temptress through which the Devil works.

The persona of the song appears to be Dylan, himself, who could identify
with Tom Paine, the hero of the American Revolution and a voice of
enlightened intellect and radical freedom. Dylan appears to have chosen to
mention Tom Paine because shortly after the death of John F. Kennedy in
1963, he had accepted the Tom Paine Award of the Emergency Civil Liberties
Committee for his work in the civil rights campaigns. Upon his arrival he
sensed the great disjunction between the "cocktail liberals" that surrounded
him and the exploited people they professed to care about. Explaining his
repugnant feelings upon that occasion, he said: "Those people at that
dinner were the same as everybody else. They're doing their time. They're
chained to what they're doing. The only thing is, they're trying to put
morals and great deeds on their chains, but basically they don't want to
jeopardise their positions." [10]

The damsel in the song appears to represent those who claimed the name of
Tom Paine. Innocently, Dylan reached out his hand toward this woman but she
grabbed him by his arm in a threatening way. Instantly recognising the Devil
at work, Dylan, in good biblical fashion, resists that the Devil may be
forced to flee, saying:

  "Depart from me this moment."

A tug of war ensues, with further enticements by the damsel. Dylan is
ultimately rescued by Tom Paine himself, whose integrity and knowledge is
sufficient to gain Dylan's release from the damsel's grip. The song ends
with an apology by Paine for what the temptress has done in his name.

Clearly, from this song, Dylan sees the Devil at work in the world of which
he is a part. The Devil insinuates himself into even the best of causes
to give the illusion of worth when in truth the causes are perverse. One
must ever be ready to resist the Devil and to confront him with the
integrity of truth. One must not be misled.

It was out of such an experience as this that Dylan became disillusioned
with politics. In 1984, Dylan told Kurt Loder: "I think that politics is the
devil's instrument. Politics kill. Politics is dirty. Politics is corrupt. I
mean, everybody knows that..." [11]

An examination of the other songs on John Wesley Harding indicates the
struggle of Dylan with the Devil. As David Pichaske points out, the song
"The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest" "concerns itself with
temptation and death, Judas Priest (another interesting and significant
juxtaposition of names) playing the role of tempter, Frankie Lee playing his
willing victim". The Devil is personified by Judas Priest. Of particular
interest is Pichaske's interpretation of "the little neighbor boy" who
walked along "with his guilt so well concealed." He explains: "We are all
guilty, Dylan suggests, simply by virtue of being born - a rather bold
statement of the orthodox doctrine of original sin..." [12] The song
suggests Dylan's own complicity in the Devil's work.

This theme is repeated in "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine", where the person

  And I dreamed I was amongst the ones
  That put him out to death.

He concludes by putting his fingers "against the glass" as he weeps. He has
not broken through the looking glass of illusion.

In the light of Dylan's emphasis upon "John Wesley Harding" having been
composed out of a sense of fear for the Devil, it is conceivable that "Dear
Landlord" is a pact between Dylan and the Devil. Recall that Dylan declared
in 1979: "Well, let me tell you that the Devil owns this world." [13] If
this statement is taken literally then the Landlord of this world is the

According to Christian theology the Devil has put a price on each human
soul - a price that can only be paid by Christ on the cross. The result is
that life is a heavy burden. The hope of redemption lies in an apocalyptic
end beyond history. Thus, Dylan understands that when he leaves this world,
he will leave everything behind:

  When that steamboat whistle blows,
  I'm gonna give you all I got to give.

He can't take it with him. Rather slyly, Dylan hopes the Devil will receive
well what he has to give,

  Dependin' on the way you feel that you live.

The Devil can have his due, and he can determine its worth according to his
own perverted felt values.

The second stanza recognises that the Devil of hellish flames has suffered
much, but humanity suffers as well. That suffering is caused by the Devil.
The work of the Devil is to see that:

  Anyone can fill his life up
  With things he can see but he just cannot touch.

That is the nature of illusion.

The third stanza seeks to come to some accommodation with the Devil. He is
god of this world and owner of this present existence. Dylan pleads for
mercy in the recognition that as long as he lives on this earth he lives
under the Devil's domain. There is no other place to go to escape from the
Devil's control. So, he proffers a bargain with the Devil:

  And if you don't underestimate me,
  I won't underestimate you.

This is Dylan's attempt to come to terms with the reality that life is lived
in a foreign land in which the Devil rules. There seems little choice other
than to make the best of circumstances. This is something less than
collaboration with the enemy. He recognises his own dignity and "special
gift" and puts the Devil on the alert not to "underestimate" him. It is also
his bounden duty not to underestimate the Devil and all his ways.

The subject of "I Am A Lonesome Hobo" may also be the Devil. In the Book of
Job, Satan is one who travels to and fro across the earth detached from
family or friends (Job 1:7). From the perspective of the Apocalypse this
would be the beginning of new life for the believer and the end of life for
the Devil. Certainly, prime characteristics of the Devil are bribery,
blackmail and deceit. The Devil serves time which is a part of the created
order dominated by him. Time belongs to the Devil; eternity to God.

As Dylan indicates, the Devil insinuates himself inside other people. He
told Neil Spencer: "That's [the Devil] the real enemy, but he tends to shade
himself and hide himself and put it into people's minds that he's really not
there and he's really not so bad, and that he's lot a lot of good things to
offer too." [14] Stanzas two and three are expressed by one who has been
used by the Devil and who warns others of his own lonesome fate.

In "I Pity The Poor Immigrant", the final stanza says:

  I pity the poor immigrant...
  Whose visions in the final end
  Must shatter like the glass.

The immigrant, who has followed the way of the Devil and of death, must
inevitably end up disillusioned on that Final Day.

Wilfrid Mellers observes of The Wicked Messenger: "The messenger, like
Judas Priest, would seem to be a devil disguised as an angel who cannot
speak truth but only flattery." [15] Although it is difficult to conceive of
Dylan's songs as flattery, it is apparent that Dylan does regard his
compositions as bound to this world's controlling power of the Devil. When,
in the second stanza, he offers a handwritten note which reads: "The soles
of my feet, I swear they're burning," it is clear he, like Satan, has been
treading the hot corridors of hell.

Dylan has sought as best he could to confront the fearful form of the Devil.
He has sought to be as honest as he knows how to be in the hope that his
knowledge will prevail against the Devil. In truth, he acknowledges
unsuccess. The best he could come up with was a brave compact with the Devil
for both parties to take each other with utter seriousness. He recognises
with regret his own complicity and knows of no escape his side of the
Judgement Day. The revelation that does come from all his efforts is:

  If ye cannot bring good news, then don't bring any.

It is worth noting that the word "ye" is an archaic plural for you. The
message is for all.

For the most part, God is conspicuously absent from Dylan's thoughts on the
album "John Wesley Harding" as he deals "with the devil in a fearful way."
The one exception is the song "I Pity The Poor Immigrant", in which it is
clear from his biblical allusions that the "I" of the song is the Lord God
Almighty. The situation is that the immigrant is one who:

  ...turns his back on me.

This denotes the fallen and rebellious state of humanity. The result of
having fallen under the spell of the Devil is that one lives an illusory
life which shatters at the Day of Judgement. God's reaction to such rebellion
is a distant pity bereft of compassion. It is a condescending sympathy - the
pity of one above the fray. Paradoxically, the forlorn plight of the
immigrant is both the result of God's judgement and the work of the Devil.
God cannot stand idly by in the face of the world's injustice. As Dylan
later explained to a San Francisco audience on November 16, 1979: "You
know, we read in the newspaper every day what a horrible situation this
world is in. Now God chooses to do these things in this world to confound
the wise." [16] Nevertheless, at the same time this "horrible mess" is the
work of the Devil.

The last two songs of the album reflect a despairing escape from the whole
issue of struggling with the Devil. Dylan is satisfied to turn back to
thoughts of human love, which is a source of comfort in the face of a
hostile and bedevilled world.

Dylan's confession of faith in Christ beginning in 1978 served to give him
renewed energy to fight the Devil. The first cut on "Slow Train Coming"
(1979) set forth the issue in black and white terms: "Gotta Serve Somebody".
Its chorus declares:

  Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
  But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Although Christ has various meanings for Dylan, he functions primarily for
Dylan as the one who has conquered the Devil. Typical of Dylan's emphasis
upon this aspect of Christ's work is his rap given at a Syracuse concert in
1980. There, he said: "I know some of you might wonder even if there is a
Devil. No, I'm not talking about the devil that's got a pitchfork. Some of
you might have heard about a devil with a pitchfork and horns. That's not
necessarily the devil. No. We're talking about that Devil. He's a spiritual
Devil. And he's got to be overcome. And he has been overcome, by what Jesus
did at the cross. I just want to tell you that." [17]

Dylan expresses this theme in his "Ain't No Man Righteous, No Not One"
(1981) where he sings:

  When I'm gone don't wonder where I be.
  Just say that I trusted in God and that Christ was in me.
  Say He defeated the devil, He was God's chosen Son
  And that there ain't no man righteous, no not one.

Dylan does not dwell upon how this defeat took place. It centres upon
Christ's crucifixion - Christ's dying to redeem a world from the grip of the

So far as the objective world is concerned, the Devil remains god of this
world. Outwardly, nothing has changed except that it is possible for persons
to know that Christ has triumphed and will prevail at the end of time.
Those who trust in Christ will join Christ in an existence beyond history.
Dylan described to his San Francisco audience on November 16, 1979 something
of how this would happen: "Anyway, we know this world's gonna be destroyed;
we know that. Christ will set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand
years, where the lion will lie down with the lamb." [18]

But, in the meantime, the warfare with the Devil continues. In the 1979
song "Trouble In Mind", Dylan sings:

  Satan whispers to ya, "Well, I don't want to bore ya,
  But when ya get tired of the Miss So-and-so
  I got another woman for ya,"

  Here comes Satan, prince of the power of the air,
  He's gonna make you a law unto yourself, gonna build a bird's nest in
     your hair. "
  He's gonna deaden your conscience 'till you worship the work of your own
  You'll be serving strangers in a strange, forsaken land.

Within the bounds of this world there is no escaping the power of the Devil.
His grip remains solid. As John Hinchey observes: "Trouble In Mind is an
appeal to the Lord to deliver the imagination from its bondage to Satan..."

There is no human means available for changing the world for the better. In
1981, Neil Spencer asked Dylan to respond to the observation that some
people make: "People feel that fighting oppression is more important than
spiritual interests." Dylan replied with considerable force: "That's wrong.
The struggle against oppression and injustice is always going to be there,
but the Devil himself is the one who creates it." [20] As Dylan expressed it
in his song Man Of Peace of 1983:

  You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.

The Devil continues to be the master of illusion.

Indeed, the power of the Devil negates history. In a most candid moment,
Dylan exclaims: "God is still the judge and the devil still rules the world,
so what's different? No matter how big you think you are, history is gonna
roll over you." [21] Most significantly, Dylan shifted the topic away from
social concerns to self-knowledge. Individualist that he is, Dylan sees
Christ serving in large part to help him to know God in a personal way so as
to remain faithful in belief till the Last Day. He says:

  "You can come to know yourself but you need help in
  doing it. The only one who can overcome all that is The
  Great Creator himself. If you can get His help, you can
  overcome it. To do that, you must know something
  about the nature of The Creator. What Jesus does for an
  ignorant man like myself is to make the qualities and
  characteristics of God more believable to me, 'cos I can't
  beat The Devil. Only God can. He already has. Satan's
  working everywhere. You're faced with him constantly.
  If you can't see him, he's inside you making you feel a
  certain way. He's feeding you envy and jealousy. He's
  feeding you oppression, hatred." (22)

The ultimate question for Dylan in regard to Satan is, Are You Ready?

  Are you ready to meet Jesus?
  Are you where you ought to be?
  Will He know you when He sees you
  Or will He say, "Depart from Me"?

  Are you ready for the judgement?
  Are you ready for that terrible swift sword?
  Are you ready for Armageddon?
  Are you ready for the day of the Lord?

As Dylan told his concert audience at Albany in April 1980: "However, Satan
is getting ready to wield his masterpiece. And you gotta have some strong
faith coming out. Even the [wise] will be deceived." [23]

Dylan confirmed his concentration upon the individual to the exclusion of
this world's affairs in his interview with Kurt Loder in 1984 when he stated
with emphasis: "I'm not really interested in governments of countries. I
think that the individual, the man alone, just him, the single being, is
what really matters. I'm in favor of the absolute freedom of the
individual." [24]

But in a world where the Devil is god of this world, freedom is elusive. It
allows for the Devil to insinuate himself into one's own very being. This is
apparent in Dylan's masterful "Jokerman" (1983). Michael A. Miller has
observed that in this song, the "Jokerman" is "the satanic, adversary
spirit" which "shows his face through the Joker element in individual human
beings." [25] It is apparent from "All Along The Watchtower" (1968) that the
Joker of that song is Bob Dylan who seeks the truth. But now, 15 years
later, Dylan recognises "that enemy within." The Devil is both the god of
the world and a perverse force lurking within one's own spirit.

Acknowledging the pervasive power of the Devil in the world, Dylan in this
song laments:

  Freedom just around the corner for you
  But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

In stanza two he expresses the source of his despair:

  Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,
  Both of their futures, so full of dread, you don't show one.

Neither Dylan nor the Devil is prepared to "show" the full horror of what
lies ahead for fools and angels alike.

Dylan then likens himself to the deceiving snake of Eden disguised as the

  Shedding off one more layer of skin,
  Keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within.

Recognising the Devil as "the persecutor within", the best he can do is try
to keep running as fast as he can before he is grabbed from behind.

With "Dark Eyes", (1985), Dylan distances himself from the Devil's grasp of
the world by declaring:

  I live in another world where life and death are memorised.

This is a world beyond this earth in which the Devil's power over death has
been finally broken through the death of Christ on a cross. So he concludes:

  But I can hear another drum beating for the dead that rise,
  Whom nature 's beast fears as they come and all I see are dark eyes.

These words encompass both Dylan's hope for life beyond this world, and
despair for existence as it is lived within the confines of human time.

Upon surveying Dylan's dialogue with the Devil throughout his public life,
it appears that, for Dylan, the Devil is a much more lively character than
Christ. The god of this world is the Devil who is the primary being with
whom one must deal. God in Christ is notably absent from the world and is
helpless to transform it. For Dylan, the chief referent in the world is the
Devil, not God. It is the Devil with whom one deals on a daily basis. An
aloof God has visited the planet in Jesus Christ to strike a telling blow
against the Devil, but the cosmic effects do not take place till the end of

As is the case with many artists through the centuries, Dylan finds the
Devil much more alive and interesting than God. The Devil has a full-blown
character and acts in history. He insinuates himself into the lives of every
human being. God is much more passive in Dylan's mind. God is the revealer
of divine knowledge.

In the end, the knowledge of God becomes for Dylan the knowledge by which
Satan may be "overcome". But it is knowledge from a distance, from beyond
time. God is the god of the eternal, whereas Satan is the god of this world.
As much as Dylan would like to be living outside the bounds of time, he
cannot escape. Dylan, having been "born in time", finds the Devil, god of
this world, to be the one with whom he must reckon.

For Dylan, so far as this world is concerned, the Lord God appears to be the
lesser character in the drama of existence. Yet, in the end, as Dylan
expresses it in When He Returns (1979):

  The iron hand it ain't no match for the iron rod,
  The strongest wall will crumble and fall to a mighty God.

1. Broadside 301
2. Hobo, January, 1980
3. Montreal, April 22, 1980.  Quoted by Clinton Heylin, "Saved!" The
   Telegraph, Summer 1988, p45. "The old song about Lucifer" apparently
   refers to New Pony (1978). Lucifer in literature is the light-bearing
   archangel cast from heaven for leading a revolt of the angels.
4. Clinton Heylin, "Saved!",  The Telegraph, Summer 1988, p55
5. Clinton Heylin, "Saved!",  The Telegraph, Summer 1988, p59-60. The
   scriptural phrase "ruler of this world" appears in John 12:31,14:30,
6. Ron Rosenbaum, "Playboy Interview:  Bob Dylan." Playboy, March, 1978, p80.
7. John Wells,  "Bent Out Of Shape From Society's Pliers: A Sociological
   Study Of The Grotesque In The Songs Of Bob Dylan". Popular Music In
   Society, 1979, Vol. 6 Number 1, p41.
8. Robert Shelton, No Direction Home:  The Life And Music Of Bob Dylan. New
   York: William Morrow & Company Inc, 1986, p358.
9. Rolling Stone, November 16, 1978, p60. 
10. Nat Hentoff,  "The Crackin', Shakin', Breakin' Sounds", in The New
    Yorker, October 24, 1964. Reprinted in Craig McGregor, ed. Bob Dylan:
    A Retrospective. New York. William Morrow & Company, p61.
(Use your browser's BACK button to resume reading from where you went to the footnotes.)
11. Kurt Loder,  "Rolling Stone Interview: Bob Dylan", Rolling Stone, June
    21, 1984, p17.
12. David R. Pichaske,  The Poetry Of Rock: The Golden Years. Peoria: The
    Ellis Press, 1981, p131.
13. Hobo, January, 1980. 
14. Neil Spencer,  "The Diamond Voice Within". New Musical Express, August
    15, 1981, p29.
15. Wilfrid Mellers.  A Darker Shade Of Pale: A Backdrop To Bob Dylan.
    Boston: Faber & Faber, 1984, p157.
16. Clinton Heylin, "Saved!  ", The Telegraph, Spring 1988, p37
17. Clinton Heylin, "Saved!",  The Telegraph, Summer 1988, p56
18. Clinton Heylin, "Saved!", The Telegraph, Spring 1988, p37
19. John Hinchey,  Bob Dylan's Slow Train. Bolton, England: Wanted Man, 1983,
20. Neil Spencer,  "The Diamond Voice Within". New Musical Express, August
    15, 1981, p31.
21. Notes accompanying Biograph (1985) quoting Dylan's comments on Every
    Grain Of Sand.
22. Neil Spencer,  "The Diamond Voice Within". New Musical Express, August
    15, 1981, p31.
23. Dylan concert,  Albany, New York, April 27,1980, quoted by Clinton
    Heylin, "Saved!", The Telegraph,  Summer 1988, p46
24. Kurt Loder,  "Rolling Stone Interview: Bob Dylan", Rolling Stone, June
    21, 1984, p17.
25. Michael A. Miller.  Hard Rain/Slow Train: Passages About Dylan. Denver,
    Colorado, May 1987, private printing, p128.

(Use your browser's BACK button to resume reading from where you went to the footnotes.)

Who's Who