Monday, June 21, 2010

Every Grain of Sand

“Every Grain of Sand” by Bob Dylan (from his Shot of Love album) is one of the most beautifully poignant songs I have heard. Elvis Costello, in an essay for Vanity Fair on his pick of the top 500 albums, said it might be the best song Dylan has ever written. Emmylou Harris sang the song at Johnny Cash’s funeral. I first heard it when I bought Shot of Love back in the summer of 1982 and was taken by it. The title calls to mind the opening lines from lines from William Blake’s poem Auguries of Innocence:

"To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

Dylan uses that phrase, among other things to speak of the intimacy of the Creator with creation:

“In the fury of the moment I can see the master's hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.”
And later when he says, "...every hair is numbered like every grain of sand."

He also reveals the poet’s heartfelt connection with humanity and the world when he says,

“I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.”

While this is a song that rises to the level of poetry, it is essentially a work that must be heard for the full effect. Someone has put together some stunning visuals that wonderfully complement Dylan’s original recording of the song which you can view below. If you are one who must read the words, you can scroll down further to see the lyrics.



[Late note: The video above appears to be out of commission. In the meantime, here is another version of the same recording by Bob Dylan. Many other artists have recorded it, but none better than Dylan himself]





Every Grain of Sand
by Bob Dylan

In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There's a dying voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair.

Don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment I can see the master's hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beats down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.

I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer's dream, in the chill of a wintry light
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face.

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other time it's only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.



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1 comment:

  1. If you are interested in the first video with the "stunning visuals," here is another link: http://especialmusica.tv/videos/bob-dylan-every-grain-of-sand

    ReplyDelete

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