Dreamin’ Of You (1997) part 6: The movement on your shoulder

by Jochen Markhorst

VI         The movement on your shoulder

 From a formal point of view, the last ten-line stanza, or officially the last quatrain + sextet, is the most remarkable of the entire lyrics. And on the other two fronts, stylistically and in terms of content, it actually is too. Just as the entire text “in fact” seems to have another form than the one presented, namely ten-line stanzas in a fixed rhyme scheme, closed with a recurring refrain line, this ending also “in fact” seems to have a completely different form: in terms of stanza construction, a reversed sonnet. An inverted Petrarchan sonnet, to be precise; first the sextet, then the octave. Dylan chooses – for the time being, presumably – for a quite original mixture of classical rhyme schemes in the two quatrains of the octave (aabb and cddc) and an open, modern rhyme scheme in the opening tercets (aab and ccd).

So officially, on the site, this part of the lyrics is again formatted as ten lines, as a quatrain plus a sextet, but both content and rhyme scheme as well as Dylan’s recitation leave little doubt:

Everything in the way
is so shiny today
A queer and unusual fall

Spirals of golden haze,
here and there in a blaze
Like beams of light in the storm

Maybe you were here and maybe you weren’t
Maybe you touched somebody and got burnt
The silent sun 
has got me on the run

Burning a hole in my brain
I’m dreamin’ of you,
that’s all I do
But it’s driving me insane

… an inverted sonnet with even a neat classical chute between the sextet and the octave, as it should be. With the exposition in the opening sextet and the pointe in the concluding octave – Petrarch would have given his blessing. And probably would have tolerated the newfangled rhyme scheme of the sextet as youthful hubris. Maybe even appreciated it as a nod to McCartney’s “Hey Jude”;

So let it out and let it in, 
hey Jude, begin,
You're waiting for someone to perform with.

And don't you know that it's just you, 
hey Jude, you'll do,
The movement you need is on your shoulder.

… the second bridge, which McCartney actually only provided with filler lyrics for the time being, hence the “not right yet” rhyme scheme aabccd. But he was overruled by Lennon, as Sir Paul tells us (in Paul Gambaccini’s Paul McCartney In His Own Words, 1976):

Like “Hey Jude”, I think I’ve got that tape somewhere, where I’m going on and on with all these funny words. I remember I played it to John and Yoko and I was saying, “These words won’t be on the finished version.” Some of the words were the movement you need is on your shoulder, and John was saying, “It’s great! The movement you need is on your shoulder.” I’m saying “It’s crazy, it doesn’t make any sense at all.” He’s saying “Sure it does, it’s great.”

Considering the fate of “Dreamin’ Of You”, it seems obvious that Dylan, like McCartney, fills this part of his song with the words that come up first, words that at least approximately cover the intended content, but for the time being without worrying about rhyme or reason. “These words won’t be on the finished version,” after all. A finished version that, as we know, never came.

Removed from the complete song lyrics, the last part of “Dreamin’ Of You” seems to be an opening. Conceivable; ever since “All Along The Watchtower” (1967), or even earlier, Dylan has been resorting to a narrative technique he calls “the cycle of events working in a rather reverse order”. Though not quite conclusive here; after all, “Dreamin’ Of You” has a lyrical text, not an epic “cycle of events”, but nevertheless this closing section definitely seems to have been set up as an opening:

Everything in the way is so shiny today
A queer and unusual fall
Spirals of golden haze, here and there in a blaze
Like beams of light in the storm

A traditional opening like for instance “Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’” (1943), the opening song of the hit musical Oklahoma!, incidentally the very first Rodgers/Hammerstein song that the world gets to know:

There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye,
An' it looks like it's climbing clear up in the sky.
Oh, what a beautiful mornin',
Oh, what a beautiful day.
I got a beautiful feelin'
Ev'erything's goin' my way


… an immortal song that sets the standard for all musicals to come. In addition to the same idiom, it has exactly the same cinematic, professional quality – starting with a wide shot of carefree idyll and sunshine, to warm up the audience: this is too good, this spells disaster. Underlined by Dylan in the very last word of the sextet, storm.

The idiom, the choice of words, also suggests that the poet started with this part of the text; “queer fall”, “golden haze”, “silent sun”, “beams of light”… Dylan searches and finds archaic, elegant, nineteenth-century idiom and meanders among other things along shreds of Melville (“the golden haze that canopied this heaven,” Mardi), which the associative mind of the walking music encyclopaedia Dylan probably leads to Oklahoma!, and William Blake. “Beams of light” is most likely anchored in the poetic part of Dylan’s brain thanks to Blake’s poem “Auguries of Innocence” (1803), the same poem whose opening line To see a World in a Grain of Sand already (partly) inspired him to write the masterpiece “Every Grain Of Sand” and whose closing lines he noticed too: When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light. Just like Dylan seems to have Blake’s “Jerusalem”, from which he also drew for “Every Grain Of Sand”, on his bedside table again these days:

THEN the Divine Vision like a silent Sun appear'd above 
Albion's dark rocks: setting behind the Gardens of Kensington 
On Tyburn's River: in clouds of blood

… the clouds of blood are reserved for “Cold Irons Bound”, and the silent sun is an equally beautiful, loaded and mysterious image for the threat that the poet Dylan wants to express in the next few lines. With the nineteenth century couleur of steamboat, Mark Twain and Civil War that Dylan still strives for in this phase of Time Out Of Mind‘s genesis. Darker and more elegant than the movement on your shoulder, in any case.


To be continued. Next up Dreamin’ Of You part 7 (final): Perhaps soft-boiled egg shit


Jochen is a regular reviewer of Dylan’s work on Untold. His books, in English, Dutch and German, are available via Amazon both in paperback and on Kindle:



  1. As mentioned before, Blake’s use of the four elements of earth, wind, fire,water makes his poetry practically self-explanatory. …

    The sun is symbolized in ancient mythology as the masculine, rational , yet fiery Apollo:

    Then the Divine Vision like a silent sun appeared above
    Setting …. in clouds of blood
    (WIlliam Blake: Jerusalem)

    Counterbalanced by the symbol of Venus in the poem beneath who is asked to hold back the west wind that foretells the coming of an unpleasant Spring, of a new order bereft of innocence:

    Let thy west wind sleep on
    The lake; speak silence with thy glimmering eye
    (William Blake: To The Evening Star)

    That side of Venus appears in the song lyrics below:

    My love she speaks like silence
    Without ideals or violence
    She does’t have to say she’s faithful
    Yet she’s true, like ice, like fire
    (Bob Dylan: Love Minus Zero)

  2. Apollo is grouped by Blake with Satan and the Deists – overlooking the dark Satanic mills

  3. Dominant-seeking Venus equated by Blake in “Jerusalem” with Enitharmon.

  4. Los is a blacksmith:

    The blow of his hammer is justice
    The swing of his hammer mercy
    (William Blake: Jerusalem)

  5. Putting attempts at interpreting Blake aside, reading his poetry will drive you insane….as Dylan apparently indicates in “Dreaming of You”.

  6. There is nothing new under the sun:

    Give me the splendid silent sun
    (Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass)

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