Bob Dylan: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue Meaning
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It's All Over Now, Baby Blue Lyrics
But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast
Yonder stands your orphan with his gun
Crying like a fire in the sun
Look out the saints are comin' through
And it's all over now,...
The song is the 1950 film noir "Gun Crazy" put to music. The plot of "Gun Crazy" is sort of "Bonnie and Clyde" in nature. In this case the character Bart Tare is an orphaned boy living in a small town and has an obsession with guns. "Yonder stands your orphan with his gun". He gets in trouble and is sent to reform school. Eventually he ends up in the Army teaching marksmanship. At a carnival he meets (and ends up marrying) a sharpshooter named Annie Laurie Starr. "Strike another match..." is in reference to a crown of stick matches she wears on her head as part of the act. Bart shoots at the matches from a distance and the bullets light each of the matches.
They go on a rampage and she kills some people. "Forget the dead you've left, they will not follow you". They travel the highways during their killing spree. "The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense". The police corner them. Bart friends Dave and Clyde show up to attempt to save their lives. That's were we get the line "Look out the saints are comin' through". Laurie was going to shoot them but Bart instead shoots and kills Laurie to save his two friends lives. At that point, "It's all over now Baby Blue". Then Bart is killed by the cops.
anonymous Jan 29th 2020 report
First verse: "You must leave now, take what you think will last." I believe this is about a breakup, maybe a divorce, but it speaks about a serious relationship that is over. Time to finally say goodbye. Divorces are ugly when the couple starts dividing up the house hold possessions. Most of the time, the female picked out all of the household items so she naturally wants to take them. Dylan questions: Is this what you think is important? These possessions? What about the love we had, the relationship we had? Next verse: "But whatever you want you better grab it fast." I think this is kind of a cheesy rhyme but the meaning is a warning. He is about fed up with her taking possessions and not caring about their lost relationship. The next verse tells more: "Yonder stands your orphan with his gun." He is watching this complete gutting of their life from possessions, to money and their relationship and he is so angry he could shoot her! What about him, his feelings, he is orphaned by her! Alone, no family! But, he makes his feelings clear in the next verse: "Crying like a fire in the sun." Dylan is so angry he could shoot her but he is so hurt that he is crying and sobbing at the loss of their relationship. Crying like a fire in the sun represents a wonderful analogy between a fire in the daytime that no one stands close to because they don't need the heat or the light as apposed to a fire at night that warms everyone around the fire and lights their faces. The next verse is back to the finality of this breakup. "Look out, the Saints are coming through!" Yes, the Saints represent the dead and this relationship is dead, over, finished. Then the next verse brings it all home: "It's all over now Baby Blue!" Dylan is Baby Blue and he is speaking to himself and he has come to the realization that this relationship is over! The next verse is a warning: "The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense!" Dylan is talking to her and explaining that you (maybe with their kids too) are heading out on your own. You need to beware and take care. Previously, Dylan's manager, accountants, bankers, lawyers and others took care of "all" of life's issues. Now she is headed out on her own with no one to advise her. That road is for gamblers so you had better use your sense or you could lose everything. Next verse states: "Take what you have gathered from coincidence." They met, they had a relationship or married and it was just the happenstance of life. Now she is taking most of the personal possessions and a whole bunch of his money because of divorce laws or just separation payment so she doesn't go public and wreck his career and life. The next verse is: "The empty handed painter from your streets, is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets." Dylan was experimenting with artwork and I believe this is a reference to himself as an artist. Your empty handed painter refers to her cleaning him out in the divorce/separation so he is empty handed but he still has his easel and her old sheets on the floor and as he paints to express some of his pain, much as Van Gough expressed, and of course, the dripping paint makes crazy patterns on the sheets. Then Dylan speaks about the end again when he says: "The sky too is folding under you!" I think Dylan is referencing the day going away as the sun folds the day under the earth. Just like with the day being at an end, so is their life together. And, once again Dylan reaches finality with the refrain by telling himself: "And it's all over now Baby Blue." Baby Blue is Dylan and he is facing the facts of the end of this relationship. He then reminisces about their life together and beliefs that they held together: "All your seasick sailors are rowing home and all your empty handed armies are going home." Dylan is referring to the anti war thinking that was prevalent as they fell in love and how he was on the cutting edge of the peace movement. The chosen leader of the movement, whether he wanted that title or not! But, Dylan has moved on philosophically and this may have been part of the break up. She is still a very intent peace/folk person and Dylan is moving away from the Folk Music/Peace philosophy. He is telling her, we don't have to argue about these issues any longer. The army and navy can all go home now. He goes on with the next verse: "Your lover who just walked out the door, has taken all his blankets from the floor." He is her lover but it is over and he is out the door. Taking all his blankets from the floor may be a reference to then not sleeping together and all he had were blankets while sleeping on their couch and not a bed and more importantly, not her bed. And, it could also be restating that all he has left after she has taken everything are a few blankets. But, once again, it is over! The next verse: "The carpet too is moving under you." Guess what, the moving truck is there and not only has Dylan "taken all his blankets from the floor", the movers are taking the rug out from under her feet too. Dylan follows this with the refrain, "It's all over now Baby Blue", which is once again referring to himself and the end of this relationship. Next, Dylan gives words of encouragement. "Leave your stepping stones behind". She has grown through their time together and she is not the innocent young person as in the beginning of their relationship. Dylan continues: "There's something that calls to you." Dylan is talking about how unhappy she is, to the point of wanting to leave the relationship. She believes there is something better out there, away from him. It is calling to her. He adds more encouragement: "Forget the dead, they will not follow you." He is letting her know that their relationship will not come back to haunt her. He is not going to seek to damage or hurt her in any way. He did write this song about her but it is so vague and remote that people are still arguing over what it is about. Dylan continues: "The vagabond that's rapping at your door, is standing in the clothes that you once wore." Dylan is saying the relationship is already over. He is on the outside looking in. He is a vagabond because she has destroyed their home, he is gone, she has taken everything and destroyed his life. Dylan is "standing in the clothes that she once wore". Meaning: She began their relationship with nothing, now she has taken everything and he has nothing! But, Dylan ends on a positive note: "Strike another match and start anew," Dylan is striking a note of acceptance and a lilt of optimism. Start your life over with out me! And, of course, the refrain speaking to himself: "It's all over now Baby Blue!"
anonymous Jan 29th 2020 report
It's about his girlfriend leaving, while they had true love.
anonymous Jan 22nd 2020 report
I am surprised that no one thinks it is about death. Your orphan standing in the door can only mean that you are dead.
It's about the hypocrisy of the folk movement and how it was falling apart. All his words are very deliberate and related here. When says "empty handed painter from your streets, drawing patterns on your sheets" It conveys opposite lifestyles. One is a picture of a homeless artist, while the other, a picture of pampered domesticity. The painter is scrawling messages like the writing on the wall. He's saying that the protagonist lost her authenticity when her art became about making money. Which is a metaphor for the folk scene. To me, it's also about how far removed the rich kids in the folk scene were from the people they were supposedly fighting for. Maybe that's what the "yonder stands your orphan" line is about. The verse "the vagabond who's rapping at your door", is also about the lack of authenticity within the movement and how all these rich kids used to pretend to be down and out in the trenches but now they've retreated back to their comfortable domestic lifestyles. The vagabond is the metaphorical chicken who has come home to roost. It's a "put up or shut up" line. This song and Queen Jane are very much related. He's imploring Blue to jump ship now before she goes down with it. All the sailors have gone, the soldiers have gone, even her lover,(closest to her heart) has gone. He's also saying that there's something new coming so it's ok to let go of the past. When he wrote the song, the beat movement/folk movement was on it's way out and the hippie movement was on it's way in.
anonymous Jun 18th 2019 report
All about a brief interlude with heroin.
I'm new to this so forgive an amateurish attempt but I'm going through a sort of breakup of my own and I wonder...could the song be about an actual breakup with his lover who has had an abortion? The orphan with his gun crying like a fire in the sun could be the child that that is angry and never had a chance. Then the saints are coming through - taking the child's spirit away or at least adding a religious tonality. Later he tells her to leave her dead behind they will not follow you and to start over. I don't know Dylan's religious or political leanings but just thought I'd ask what people thought. BTW I'm the female in this breakup.
anonymous Oct 23rd 2016 report
To me it has always been clear. Good bye to the Folk Music that made him The Headliner at Newport in 1965 and hello to his future as a Legend in Folk-Rock.
You can be both and he is. That's what inspired artists do, others should have seen it coming.
anonymous Nov 9th 2015 report
In the long paragraph above, the writer pretty well nails it, though it shouldn't take that long. This was one of several songs Dylan wrote about the time when he "moved on" from what many considered the sacred camp of "real folk music." The other two are Maggie's Farm which he sang at Newport that famous night in 1965, and also Tamborine Man. "To dance beneath the velvet sky with one hand waving free..... and but for the sky there are no fences facing." But everybody wants you too be just like them. They sing while you slave and I just get bored" Dylan was moving on, following (as always) his own muse, but I think he felt some degree of hurt at the vehemence of those who felt he was a Judas. But for that pristine and holy "real folk music" movement, it was indeed "all over now." The times were changing fast. Breaking free of outside constraints and being free are recurring themes in many Dylan songs.
anonymous Oct 7th 2010 report
This song is simple: A bad breakup, resulting in possessions being grabbed and even street people getting a hold of your sheets and clothing. Hit the highway (51 ?) ? Time to go back home like the soldiers and sailors...... leaving your previous life behind (stepping stones, your dead). Light another cigarette and move on.
To a request about this song and it's meaning, in my earlier comments I gave my thoughts on "baby blue" this is what Dylan is all about, every time you hear a Dylan song another light bulb turns on in your brain. Hearing it the other night for the zillionth time it is about leaving the hardcore folk music to expand on the next higher level. It's like a message to the old guard folk singers like Pete Seegar and all telling them to take what ever they think will last, but whatever you want to take you better grab it fast. and telling them to strike another match go start anew was a very popular way of a type of unity as they swayed back and forth with tears rolling down the female's faces and men too. This statement although honorable was quickly halted with too many people throwing the matches away after burning their fingers. It also was deemed a fire hazard, especially at indoor venues causing how many small fires the Good Lord only knows. besides matches were being frowned apon 1st from the people who opposed smoking, unless it was a joint. 2nd bic lighters were making matches obsolete. That too was replaced with little flash lights which also were frowned apon because of the dangers of shit faced members of the audience throwing them like fastballs at the stadium. So now they wave their hands over their head which will end shortly because people have more hair under their arms than on their heads and hygiene is not near the top priority to them so on a hot summer night you get a nice 90 minutes of 30,000 people's b.o. anyway back to it's all over now baby blue can also be attributed to Suzie Rotello leaving for a trip to Spain to buy him a pair of boots made of Spanish leather and her sister Carla who hated Dylan like a frenchman hates a shower again there was a song about her I believe it is ballad in plain d but could be wrong, and a few years or months later was standing at her door a success wearing expensive clothes and not the vagabond who was rapping at her door, standing in the clothes that you once wore. Meaning the tables turned and he was on top and she at the bottom which could lead to a couple of other songs where Dylan sang basically the same words eg; idiot wind that's about it for now. my brain is starting to hurt
dylan first sang this at the newport jazz festival.after doing his set with acoustic guitar, he took a break. when the curtain came up there were drums on stage and electric guitars. dylan started playing folk-rock and there was revolution in the air. afteranother short break, he came back with his harp and acoustic guitar and sang baby blue .the crowd went wild again, thinking the rock songs were a put on. he then walked off stage to cheers. it wasn't til later that they started to understand what the song really meant. it wasn't about a breakup with a girl which could be joan baez. it was really about dylan going to folk rock and was saying good bye to the old dylan and hello to the new one, actually the first lines pointed to that "you must leave now take what you want, but whatever it is you better grab it fast,"one of the songs he sang like a rolling stone redefined the world of music and it still does today. a lot of people have differing feelings about baby blue for in the years after a lot of his songs had various interpretations. which is why he remains popular today and will be for who knows how many hundreds of years to come? i mean colleges have courses on dylan.
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