About the Songwriter



Verse 3:

The Royal Court

Having previously established the world the narrator grew up in, he 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 could also foreshadow the anarchy that the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger symbolizes at the song's climax in verse 5. By 1970 we had lost our way, it seemed. To quote Bob Dylan:

How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a rolling stone?

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