월, 01/22/2018 - 21:17

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[English] An ex-JW's interpretation on "All Along the Watchtower" by Ray Ryu

Made by Bob Dylan and far-famed with the fantastic guitar playing of Jimmy Hendrix, "All Along the Watchtower" has been leaving great signatures in the Pop history.

I want to have a chance to drop my own interpretation. Reading the below, you may need to take into consideration the fact that I'm not a native speaker in English.

[All Along the Watchtower] written by Bob Dyan - Full lyrics

  • "There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
  • "There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
  • Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
  • None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.
  •  
  • No reason to get excited, the thief, he kindly spoke,
  • There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
  • But you and i, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
  • So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.
  •  
  • All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
  • While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
  • Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
  • Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

 

I always think that a great piece of art could be greater by the recreating interpretation of liberal readers, listeners and viewers. I've found that lots of interpretations have been tried by various appreciators from English or Non-English world. I read some interpretations and critics of Ivy League's English literature professors but could not find same results in one accord.

As great film directors avoid questions on their movies' meaning, as I research, Dylan thankfully didn't mention any comment on the meaning of his song.

Let us start with a supposition that Dylan was related with JW in any way, such as he studied WT or he had friends, relatives or anyone involved in JW.

I'd like to divide the poetic lyrics into 3 stanzas.

 

[the 1st stanza]

  • "There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
  • "There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
  • Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
  • None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

; In the 1st stanza, the joker is talking to the thief. Overall expressions are negative. The joker is a naive JW who recognize the situation but not know how to deal with it. The thief is a worldly JW who has led a double life but has not fixed the next step.

; Both of them are "IN" because they're talking about "OUT". Without any relief, the joker cannot help but grumble about all the confusion from JW life. Yes they are in the JW organization.

; Wine and earth symbolize Mental and Physical resource each. Their free wills based on intelligence were weakened from brainwashing and their bodies were withered from overwhelming duties. We know who are businessmen in the HQ and who are plowmen in the congregations : Governing Body and Elderly one.

; People in this organization are eager to seize a better position in the JW hegemony line while they don't know what ultimate value their struggles have. cf) In the novel of "Hope for the flowers", the two caterpillars tried to get to the top with no knowledge of it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope_for_the_Flowers

 

[The 2nd stanza]

  • No reason to get excited, the thief, he kindly spoke,
  • There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
  • But you and i, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
  • So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

; In this stanza, the joker is replied by the thief who has more understanding to be able to speak with kindness. He is a less naive guy than the joker.

; What can a joke mean in this context? First of all, a joke is not a serious thing. It's a funny thing. Comparing with the eternal life in Paradise, how trivial the present life is! To many JWs, this life is really just a joke that is nothing serious.

; These two guys have been through the course of escaping from the status of "captives of a concept". Grammatically, "ve been through" implies they are not yet complete exJws. However, at this point, the thief denies the JW fate since he saw the need of changing and got enlightened toward a different destiny.

; So he confesses that their talks on the podium were full of falsehood. No more falsehood, no more waiting for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow can hold them without disappointment because the time was way too late, mocking their reason.

 

[the 3rd stanza]

  • All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
  • While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
  • Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
  • Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

; I'd like to see the speaker in the 3rd stanza as an observer outside of the Watchtower who is not one among the joker or thief, while considering my interpretation of approaching's direction of the 4th line. The expression, "All along" usually can be applied to the space, but I'd like to interpret it as "All along the Watchtower history" by understanding it in terms of chronology. The princes, WT power-holders kept the view. They watched over and controlled them all along the WT history just like "Big brother" of "1984", the novel by George Orwell.

; Of course, JW sisters do field-service much coming and going. Ministerial servants without the shoes of Elderly title also work hard to get the title to the point that their barefoot got sweat.

; According to the WT claim, there is a Satanic force of a growling lion(1 Peter 5:8) outside which is of cat family in the zoological taxonomy. However that kind of JW's threatening cannot forever hinder them from escaping WT and looking forward to freedom and real truth.

; The howling sound of wind describes the hollowness of the successful escape. No Utopia is waiting for them. Overcoming WT doesn't guarantee all the happiness.

Two riders seem to ride not bikes but horses. Why not four horse riders like in the Revelation?

I think these riders are the two speakers of this poem, the joker and thief. "Approaching" does not have an objective destination. It is not to Watchtower itself but out to the world, real truth and freedom that they are riding horses. Yes, they did succeed!

Just like you!

 

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