All Along the Watch Tower by Bob Dylan

The Meaning Behind “All Along the Watchtower”


All Along the Watch Tower is probably one of the most famous songs written by Bob Dylan. While his own version was popular it didn’t really become a hit until Jimi Hendrix covered it. In this haunting song All Along the Watchtower interpretations are as rambling as the lyrics themselves can appear to be.

All along the Watchtower meanings can be traced by reading between the lines. In the song a joker and a thief are having a conversation. The joker is dissatisfied with where he is in life. He is complaining about the businessmen drinking his wine and the plowmen tilling his earth. Society has taken what is his in a way and he is not happy.

For some All Along the Watchtower symbolism shows a loss of humanity through these things. The dominate society has taken things without any appreciation of what they have taken. To the joker these things were important but to the businessman and the plowman they were simply things to take.

Symbols in All Along the Watchtower that attribute to this train of thought continue in the next stanza. “No reason to get excited, the thief he kindly spoke, there are many here among us that feel that life’s a joke.” Society doesn’t appreciate what is there. They feel it’s all a joke, something not to be taken seriously. This stanza really attributes to All Along the Watchtower interpretations shedding light on how things are perceived by the general populace.

All Along the Watchtower’s meaning continues in the bridge of the song. “All along the watch tower, princes kept the view, all the women came and went barefoot servants too.” Again you are shown the loss of humanity. The women are considered barefoot servants to the princes who keep watch from the tower.

The princes are the dominate society that don’t appreciate the things they have taken. The women are treated as servants instead of the equals that they should be seen as. They princes don’t appreciate the things these women do for them.

With All Along the Watchtower symbols are all about the upper class, taking what isn’t theirs to take and then not appreciating what they have. In the society of jokers, princes, and thieves a prince and businessman would be above the joker and therefore could take their things. “The businessman drank my wine,” the phrase itself lends to the taking of things and the need to be the dominate personality.

Society has a tendency to lose itself this way. The dominate need to feel dominate without necessarily appreciating anything that they are dominating. They don’t appreciate the things around them, they simply have to be in control.