Bob Dylan – When the Ship Comes In

Bob supposedly wrote this song after being treated badly by a motel manager as he was touring round with Joan Baez. It is a song of fury and vengeance.

It seems very pertinent today to put into context with the anger, fury, hatred and division in the wake of Trump and Brexit.

It looks more and more as if we are being polarised and moving towards the insanity of public unrest and violence.

People no longer believe the politicians or experts. They are being roused and directed against each other. Scapegoats of terrorists and immigrants are used to deflect the blame from the real causes.

Nobody is really addressing the real problems. The anger mounts. I think we will be having riots before long.

When the Ship Comes In – Bob Dylan

Oh the time will come up
When the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be breathin’
Like the stillness in the wind
Before the hurricane begins
The hour that the ship comes in


And the sea will split
And the ships will hit
And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking
Then the tide will sound
And the waves will pound
And the mornin’ will be a-breakin’The fishes will laugh
As they swim out of the path
And the seagulls they’ll be smilin’
And the rocks on the sand
Will proudly stand
The hour that the ship comes in

And the words that are used
For to get the ship confused
Will not be understood as they’re spoken
For the chains of the sea
Will have busted in the night
And be buried on the bottom of the ocean

A song will lift
As the mainsail shifts
And the boat drifts on to the shoreline
And the sun will respect
Every face on the deck
The hour that the ship comes in

Then the sands will roll
Out a carpet of gold
For your weary toes to be a-touchin’
And the ship’s wise men
Will remind you once again
That the whole wide world is watchin’

Oh the foes will rise
With the sleep still in their eyes
And they’ll jerk from their beds and think they’re dreamin’
But they’ll pinch themselves and squeal
And they’ll know that it’s for real
The hour that the ship comes in

And they’ll raise their hands
Sayin’ “We’ll meet all your demands”
But we’ll shout from the bow “Your days are numbered”
And like Pharoah’s tribe
They’ll be drownded in the tide
And like Goliath, they’ll be conquered

5 thoughts on “Bob Dylan – When the Ship Comes In

  1. He wasn’t treated badly, but simply refused a hotel room by the desk clerk because he looked dirty and unwashed, which was very likely the case. When Joan Baez vouched for his good character he subsequently gained entry to a room. He wasn’t in the least well known at this point, whereas, she was a national star.
    Nothing unusual really as most hotels will give you a body swerve if you look like you live under a bridge.

    1. Thanks for that. That’s pretty much in line with what I heard. But Bob thought he was treated badly and reacted to it. I think the song is evidence of that, don’t you?

      1. Thanks for that. Interesting. While this is not one of Dylan’s best it is still one that resonates with me. I like its energy and power.
        A long while back I remember an interview with Joan talking about how annoyed he was at the time. He felt he’d been belittled and the attitude of the guy was rude. I think that shed a little insight on it for me.
        His appearance at the time was very much in line with his Woody Guthrie look. He was trying to be more Woody than Woody. He progressed rapidly from there and went through a few incarnations.

  2. From the desk of Abiyda Soffer on behalf of The Society of Bob Dylan’s Universal Secrets.

    A little arrogance may be construed by the removal of contributory additional postings containing generous information provided by interested parties not normally associated with this particular domain.
    A spirit of intelligent interaction evades further discourse.

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