Bob Dylan – “Things Have Changed” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed” is a masterful lament on the shifting sands of time. Dylan paints a picture of a world that feels unfamiliar, emphasizing the alienation and detachment he feels. The song encapsulates themes of resignation, changing values, and the bizarre nature of life. While not directly addressing a specific person, it’s a raw reflection of Dylan’s personal journey and observations on a world transforming around him. His iconic line, “I used to care, but things have changed,” serves as a testament to his evolving perspective on life.

Are you looking for a song that captures the essence of change? Dive into Dylan’s world, where every line resonates with feelings we’ve all felt.

“Things Have Changed” Lyrics Meaning

Bob Dylan has always had a knack for capturing the zeitgeist, and “Things Have Changed” is no exception. The song starts off with a man observing his own detachment and surreal existence, emphasizing the strangeness of the present moment: “A worried man with a worried mind” and his surroundings seem both opulent and threatening.

His mention of “a woman on my lap” and “white skin, got assassin’s eyes” paints a picture of decadence but also impending danger. The visuals are cryptic, potentially referencing fleeting moments of luxury and the inevitability of time.

As he moves through the song, the lines “People are crazy and times are strange” capture the essence of the changing times. There’s a sense of resignation in Dylan’s voice, particularly when he confesses, “I used to care, but things have changed.” This is more than just an acknowledgment of changing times; it’s a reflection of internal transformation.

The mention of “being in the wrong town” and thinking he “should be in Hollywood” hints at misplaced ambitions or perhaps outgrowing one’s surroundings. The quirky line about taking “dancing lessons do the jitterbug rag” and dressing “in drag” highlights the lengths one might go to fit into these changing times or escape them.

The vivid imagery of “walking forty miles of bad road” and the biblical reference, “If the bible is right, the world will explode,” is Dylan’s way of emphasizing the tumultuous journey of life and the impending sense of doom.

Dylan navigates through a world he feels disconnected from, where truth is elusive: “All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.” The recurring theme of change, both personal and external, weaves the song together, making “Things Have Changed” a profound reflection on life’s unpredictability.

The Story Behind “Things Have Changed”

“Things Have Changed” was released in 2000 for the film “Wonder Boys” and subsequently won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. But like many of Dylan’s works, it’s more than just a movie soundtrack; it offers a deep introspective into his soul. Dylan was entering his 60s, a time when many reflect on their past and grapple with the realities of aging. The song seems to echo these sentiments, portraying a man who’s seen it all and finds himself increasingly out of step with a world that’s morphing before his eyes.

Furthermore, Dylan’s career had its ups and downs. When the ’90s rolled around, many felt his golden years were behind him. However, in the late ’90s and early 2000s, there was a noticeable revival in his creativity and output, with “Things Have Changed” being a prime example.

The song might also be seen as a reflection of fame. Having spent the majority of his life in the limelight, Dylan comments on the strangeness and transience of celebrity – the opulence, the danger, and the ultimate emptiness of it all.

While Dylan has always been guarded about explaining his songs, “Things Have Changed” stands as a testament to a legendary artist’s ability to evolve, adapt, and reflect on the world around him and the changes within himself.