Dreaming about World War Three

Talkin’ World War III Blues

Bob Dylan

One time ago a crazy dream came to me
I dreamt I was walkin’ into World War Three
I went to the doctor the very next day
To see what kinda words he could say
He said it was a bad dream
I wouldn’t worry ’bout it none, though
Them old dreams are only in your head

I said, hold it, Doc, a World War passed through my brain
He said, nurse, get your pad, this boy’s insane
He grabbed my arm, I said ouch
As I landed on the psychiatric couch
He said, tell me about it

Well, the whole thing started at three o’clock fast
It was all over by quarter past
I was down in the sewer with some little lover
When I peeked out from a manhole cover
Wondering who turned the lights on

Well, I got up and walked around
And up and down the lonesome town
I stood a-wondering which way to go
I lit a cigarette on a parking meter
And walked on down the road
It was a normal day

Well, I rung the fallout shelter bell
And I leaned my head and I gave a yell
Give me a string bean, I’m a hungry man
A shotgun fired and away I ran
I don’t blame them too much though
They didn’t know me

Down at the corner by a hot-dog stand
I seen a man, I said, ‘howdy friend’
I guess there’s just us two
He screamed a bit and away he flew
Thought I was a Communist

Well, I spied a girl and before she could leave
I said, let’s go and play Adam and Eve
I took her by the hand and my heart it was thumpin’
When she said, hey man, you crazy or sumpin’
You seen what happened last time they started

Well, I seen a Cadillac window uptown
And there was nobody aroun’
I got into the driver’s seat
And I drove down 42nd Street
In my Cadillac
Good car to drive after a war

Well, I remember seein’ some ad
So I turned on my Conelrad
But I didn’t pay my Con Ed bill
So the radio didn’t work so well
Turned on my record player
It was Rock-A-Day, Johnny singin’
Tell your Ma, tell your Pa
Our loves are gonna grow ooh-wah, ooh-wah

I was feelin’ kinda lonesome and blue
I needed somebody to talk to
So I called up the operator of time
Just to hear a voice of some kind
When you hear the beep
It will be three o’clock
She said that for over an hour
And I hung up

Well, the doctor interrupted me just about then
Sayin, Hey I’ve been havin’ the same old dreams
But mine was a little different you see
I dreamt that the only person left after the war was me
I didn’t see you around

Well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody’s having them dreams
Everybody sees themselves walkin’ around with no one else
Half of the people can be part right all of the time
Some of the people can be all right part of the time
But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that
I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours
I said that


You wouldn’t want to be in my dreams

There are no survivors



Nuclear Reaction

I have lived in a nuclear age,
Through fifty years of nuclear weapons
And frantic talk of a winter
Cold enough to freeze the whole world over.

We sealed ourselves off in nuclear families,
In the airless privacy of concrete bunkers,
Seclusion of anti-social weekends,
Muffling the sound of controlled explosions.

The Berlin wall is just a memory now,
But I can hear the wild kaboom
Of atoms splitting, nuts cracking.
My dreams are filled with the flash of fireballs.

The beast creeps out from its winter lair —
Random acts of public violence,
Road rage, bomb blasts, assaults on infants —
First fruits of spring delayed too long.

What will become of us, the nuclear children,
Poking our noses from half-frozen silos,
Longing for connection, primed to go ballistic,
Fearful still of a last conflagration?

20 January 1997


i can smell the world burning

i wake up restless
in the dead of night
not for the first time
and smell the world burning

nothing to see
no-one to touch
dry birdcage mouth
and everywhere silence

then I hear the steady rumble
of spaceship earth
or just the fridges tuneless song
of life machines
and dreams of common flight

and still I can smell
this bonfire of dead trees
exhaust of motor cars
pungent and acrid
the world burning
while we sleep
4 October 1999

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