Jokerman is a song of contrasts. You have a man of great potential, yet of great failure. A man who is complacent a man who manipulates, knows the truth but he does not follow it or share it. It could be about a particular person, but I think it is more a type of person, an antichrist or a Jokerman
(Words and Music by Bob Dylan) 1983 Special Rider Music
Standing on the waters casting your bread While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing. Distant ships sailing into the mist, You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing. Freedom just around the corner for you But with the truth so far off, what good will it do? Miracles are no stranger to this fellow. Even his birth showed signs of great happenings. Freedom is in his grasp, but the truth is far off, this sets the stage and is a common thread, "truth so far off." Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune, Bird fly high by the light of the moon, Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman. This guy works at night, or in the cover of darkness. He is one who works in secret, he "dances to the nightingale tune." So swiftly the sun sets in the sky, You rise up and say goodbye to no one. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, Both of their futures, so full of dread, you don't show one. Shedding off one more layer of skin, Keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within. A man alone. No close friends or relatives to say goodbye to. He is brave, yet uncaring he knows how to help people, but does not. "Sheddin off..." He changes constantly, keeps remaking himself in a "Clinton-like" fasion. The persecutor is his conscience. Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune, Bird fly high by the light of the moon, Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman. You're a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds, Manipulator of crowds, you're a dream twister. You're going to Sodom and Gomorrah But what do you care? Ain't nobody there would want to marry your sister. Friend to the martyr, a friend to the woman of shame, You look into the fiery furnace, see the rich man without any name. This is a man of high stature. He can easily manipulate crouds and take peoples dreams and twist them to serve his own ends or increase his power. "...Marry your sister?" Who knows, rhymes with twister. "Friend to the martyr..." Pretends to be religious, pretends to be Christlike this is Dylans number one target since 79 people pretending to be religious and using it for their own power. The rich man is from the story of lazarous, in the New Testament. Maybe Jokerman sees a little of himself in that rich man. Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune, Bird fly high by the light of the moon, Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman. Well, the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers. In the smoke of the twilight on a milk-white steed, Michelangelo indeed could've carved out your features. Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space, Half asleep near the stars with a small dog licking your face. A Giant of a man, once again Dylan uses his imagery to show you this is no ordinary fellow. Contrasted with his complacency. There are problems to be solved and he is dozing in a meadow with a small dog licking his face. Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune, Bird fly high by the light of the moon, Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman. Well, the rifleman's stalking the sick and the lame, Preacherman seeks the same, who'll get there first is uncertain. Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks, Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain, False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin, Only a matter of time 'til night comes steppin' in. Epic battle between good and evil, will the hunter get to the sheep before the shepherd (Pastor and Shepherd have almost exactly the same meaning in Koine Greek) All these dangers, once again Dylan says that the end is near. "night come steppin' in. Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune, Bird fly high by the light of the moon, Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman. It's a shadowy world, skies are slippery gray, A woman just gave birth to a prince today and dressed him in scarlet. He'll put the priest in his pocket, put the blade to the heat, Take the motherless children off the street And place them at the feet of a harlot. Oh, Jokerman, you know what he wants, Oh, Jokerman, you don't show any response. Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune, Bird fly high by the light of the moon, Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman. Once again Dylan speaks of the end times. Jokerman knows what God wants. Jokerman does not respond. He is a hypocrite, a deciever, an antichrist. Try this page for simularities, It's fascinating!