About the Songwriter



Verse 3:

The Royal Court

Having previously established the world he grew up in, the narrator now becomes an increasingly disillusioned observer. Bob Dylan, representing the forces of revolutionary change that are brewing in American society at this time, is this verse's primary musical figure, and is used as a symbolic challenge to the older social order represented by Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. But by the end of this verse, the Beatles—practicing in the park—are readying a revolution of their own that will sideline Dylan later in the song.

•   •   •

Now for ten years we've been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
But that's not how it used to be

Though this verse takes place between the years 1963 and 1966, these first lines look back from the year 1970—ten years or so after Holly's death. "A rolling stone gathers no moss" is an old cliché used to describe someone who never puts down roots, but here the cliché is turned on its head, reflecting how the wholesale rejection of conventional values had become commonplace by 1970—and that's not how it used to be. This line also foreshadows the uprooting anarchy that the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger symbolizes later at the song's climax in verse 5. To quote Bob Dylan: "How does it feel/To be without a home/Like a complete unknown/Like a rolling stone?"

1 more